Elemi Essential Oil: A Lifesaver for Your Skin

Elemi essential oil is an oil that you may have never heard of, but it deserves some recognition since it is an oil with many incredible health benefits!

In this article, we will share with you about what elemi oil is, where it came from, what are its uses, and the top-recommended brands of elemi oil.

Table of Contents

What is Elemi Essential Oil?

Elemi oil is most commonly recognized and used in skincare products. The primary belief of elemi in the products is that it may heal and restore skin.

However, elemi oil is also known for possibly boosting your immune system function, reducing muscle and joint pain, speeding up the healing of external wounds along promoting a greater sense of well-being which we will get to more below!

Origination and History of Elemi Oil

Elemi oil comes from the Elemi tree (aka Pili tree) or the Canarium luzonicum tree, originally from the Philippines. It can also be found in Brazil and Asia, but elemi oil really got its start in the Middle East; historically used for a variety of purposes.

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Additionally, this tree is closely related to the Boswellia tree, which frankincense essential oil comes from, and the Commiphora tree, the origination tree of myrrh. Elemi does have similar properties as frankincense and myrrh but is a more cost-effective alternative.

Extraction Method

Elemi is extracted from the tree, much like syrup for your pancakes. A small ‘wound’ or hole is made into the tree where the sap will drain out of the tree for approximately two weeks. The sap is initially white until it hits the air and turns brown. Until it has dried into a hard resin. The resin is then collected to be processed into oil.

Once the resin has been collected, it is steam distilled to extract the oil from the resin.

Chemical Composition

Elemi oil has six noteworthy chemical components; dipentene, elemol, elemicin, limonene, phellandrene, and terpineol. While we will not go in-depth on all six elements, we believe it bears worth mentioning the terpenes that contribute to the healing properties discussed in this article.


Research has shown that limonene has antibacterial and antioxidative properties. These properties are all effective in treating infection, mood disorders, and illnesses.


Elemol is a prevalent terpene in the perfume industry used in massage oils, skin care products as well as insect repellants.

Research has shown that elemol has anti-inflammatory properties, and one study found this chemical component to have a therapeutic potential in the treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema), which is an inflammatory skin condition.

Combined, limonene and elemol create a powerhouse of healing and restoration within the body, making elemi an excellent choice for ailments requiring this type of attention.

Elemi Essential Oil Benefits

Elemi oil is noted primarily for its analgesic properties. This means it may be able to relieve pain. The reason elemi is thought to have these properties is that it contains limonene, a chemical constituent that has been noted by research as a possible pain-reliever.

However, that is not all elemi is used for. It is noted for possibly boosting the immune system, healing wounds, and restoring skin. It has stimulant properties that may encourage healing and restoration from everything from external cuts and wounds to internal viruses and bacteria.

May Boost Immune System

This benefit is all based on anecdotal evidence, but many aromatherapists swear by the oil. Particularly in Western Europe, aromatherapists use elemi oil to stimulate the thymus gland. The thymus gland is located in your chest behind your sternum and is most significant and most productive in our early years as children. Its primary function is to create T-cells that protect the body against certain viruses and infections.

As we get older, the thymus gland is slowly replaced by fatty tissue, and by the average age of 75, is nothing more than that, fat. However, before that occurs, it is possible to stimulate the thymus gland when dealing with autoimmune disorders to strengthen the immune system in the body by tapping into the thymus double duty responsibilities as an endocrine and lymphatic gland.

May Support Respiratory Health

This benefit is also based on anecdotal evidence, but it is worth trying out since most people don’t have an adverse reaction to elemi oil.

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Elemi oil may be used for congestion caused by the flu, colds, and bronchitis, which commonly come with an excessive amount of fluid and phlegm.

Inhaling elemi may help break up the mucus in the chest, nose, and sinuses providing respiratory relief.

May Initiate Healing

It is hard to heal skin that is still infected, so we deal with the infection first by using an antiseptic. Once the infection is under control, we can still be left with pain. Whether it is pain from an incision or pain from cystic acne, pain is pain, and everyone wants relief from it.

To control pain, we reach for an analgesic. Analgesics come in topical or oral form. Most of us are accustomed to reaching for acetaminophen or naproxen-sodium (Tylenol and Aleve). Elemi is an excellent natural alternative for pain relief compared to non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Once the healing process has taken place with the infection under control and pain is being managed or having dissipated, we can move into the restoration process.

May Restore Skin

As mentioned above, there is some scientific evidence of elemi oil having potential therapeutic or healing properties when it comes to treating eczema, but these healing properties extend to possibly treating other skin conditions and aiding in anti-aging.

In fact, research has shown that elemi oil has been used in the field of dermatology for cuts, wounds, inflammation, fine lines, wrinkles, and more.

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Elemi can be found in almost every major player in the skincare market. Take a look at your ingredients list and see if “pili” is an ingredient. If it is, you can be sure elemi is part of your daily regimen.

In some skincare products, you may see an ingredient that says “parfum“. This means elemi oil may be in your cream but is used only as a fragrance and not as an active ingredient.

Top Brands of Elemi Essential Oil

Edens Garden

Edens Garden essential oils are always on our favorites list. Again and again, Edens Garden delivers on the quality and affordability of their essential oils and their elemi oil is no exception.

Elemi Oil Edens Garden - Elemi Essential Oil

This oil is very fragrant, and half the price of other popular essential oil brands like Young Living.

Plant Therapy

Plant Therapy is also a well-known and loved brand by many essential oil users. Their essential oils are high quality, affordable, and easily accessible.

Elemi Oil Pt - Elemi Essential Oil

This is true for their elemi oil as well. This oil has a very fragrant citrusy and peppery scent that is the classic elemi oil scent.

How to Use Elemi Oil

How you will use elemi oil largely depends on what you are treating. Including elemi oil will look a little different if you are treating a chest or head cold as opposed to a wound or skin treatment.


If you are suffering from a head cold, bronchitis, or allergies diffusing is the way to go. You can take this a step further by plugging your diffuser in your bathroom, closing the door, and allowing the oil to condense in the air of a small space.

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Another alternative to diffusing is to boil a pot of water, put one to two drops of elemi oil in the pot and put a towel over your head with your face over the pot for a more concentrated effect for about five to ten minutes.

This recommendation does not apply to children because of the possibility of burning the skin. Be very mindful when using this method at all times.


Merely inhaling the oil from the bottle works well on the go. Also, sitting with a hot towel over your head or in the bathroom is not an option.


Massage works best for sore muscles and aching joints. Elemi oil has been reported to cause mild skin irritations at best, so it is safe to apply directly to the skin. However, you will be using more of the oil than is necessary if you start rubbing it on straight from the bottle.

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Instead, take a ¼ cup of your preferred carrier oil and add four to five drops of elemi oil and blend. Keep in a glass container out of sunlight, and you will have a rub ready for whenever your muscles need it. You can also use this rub on your chest if you are suffering from allergies or a cold.


To make a compress, you have one of two options. You can either place a couple of drops directly on the affected area and cover it with a warm or cold cloth. Or you can apply some of the massage oil you made and cover it with an ice pack or a heating pad. Be mindful when using ice packs and heating pads; make sure to place something like a hand towel or washcloth between the warm/cold compress and your skin for protection.

Essential Oil Safety

As always, check with your doctor first if you want to try any essential oil for any type of condition.

Also, it is vital to dilute elemi oil with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil before topical application. If you are new to this oil or have sensitive skin, perform a small patch test before applying it all over the desired area to make sure you don’t experience an adverse reaction to this oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does elemi oil smell like?

Elemi oil has a citrus scent with a bit of peppery and earthy tones.

What blends well with elemi essential oil?

Elemi oil blends well with frankincense, myrrh, lavender, rosemary, and clary sage.

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