Skip to Content

Storax

Scientific Name(s): Liquidambar orientalis Mill., Liquidambar styraciflua L.
Common Name(s): Alligator tree, Alligator-wood, American storax, Bilsted, Red gum, Satin-walnut, Star-leaved gum, Storax, Styrax, Sweet gum tree

Clinical Overview

Use

Clinical applications are lacking for storax. Antibacterial has been demonstrated, and potential in cancer has been investigated. Storax is used as a skin protectant, as a flavoring, and in perfumes.

Dosing

There is no clinical evidence to support a dosage recommendation.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergic rhinitis has been reported.

Toxicology

Information is lacking. Storax is included in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and has been approved for food use in small concentrations (25 ppm); purified storax was previously included. Renal injury is possible from application to a large surface area of the body.

Botany

American storax is obtained from L. styraciflua, a large tree found near the Atlantic coast from New England to Central America.USDA 2015 Levant storax (L. orientalis) is obtained from a small tree native to Turkey. The bark of the tree is scaly and irregular, hence the name 'alligator tree.' The tree has star-shaped leaves and brown, ball-shaped fruits, which produce clusters of flowers and large quantities of pollen distributed by wind.USDA 2015

History

Storax has been used as an expectorant, especially in inhalation with warm air vaporizers. It has also been used to treat parasitic infections. Because the leaves are rich in tannins, they have been used to treat diarrhea and to relieve sore throat.Morton 1977 In Latin America, the gum is used as a diaphoretic and as a diuretic. It is also applied topically to sores and wounds. Storax had been used in the United States as a component of hemorrhoid preparations, but now its only use is as an ingredient in the compound tincture of benzoin as a topical protectant.Khan 2011 Storax is used in food products as a flavoring and fixative, and in soaps and perfumes.Khan 2011

Resins derived from storax have been used in perfumes and incense, and as food flavors. The reddish-brown wood of the tree, known as satin walnut, is used in furniture.Duke 2002, Morton 1977

Chemistry

Crude liquid storax is obtained from pressing the bark of the tree in cold water, then with boiling water. The crude balsam is dissolved in alcohol, filtered, and collected using a process that does not allow the loss of its volatile constituents.Storax 2010

Crude storax is a gray, thick liquid with a pleasant odor, but a bitter taste. About 85% of the crude material is alcohol soluble.Duke 1992, Khan 2011 Purified storax forms a brown, semisolid mass that is completely soluble in alcohol. Storax is high in free and combined cinnamic acid, styracin, cinnamate, and volatile oil. Major constituents of the leaf oil include limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene.El-Readi 2013 The stem oil contains germacrene D and alpha-cadinol.El-Readi 2013

Uses and Pharmacology

Animal data

Isolated triterpenoid chemicals have been studied in skin carcinogenesis in mice,Fukuda 2005 and in vitro against human cancer cell lines.Sakai 2004

In one study, a combination product containing L. orientalis demonstrated CNS activity, delaying the onset of induced convulsions in mice.Koo 2004

Antibacterial activity has been described for an ethanolic extract of storax.Khan 2011, Wyllie 1989

Clinical data

There is no clinical data regarding the use of storax for any condition.

Dosing

There is no clinical evidence to support a dosage recommendation.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

Case reports are lacking.

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited. Diarrhea from ingestion of the resin is possible.Duke 2002 Allergic rhinitis has been reported.Basak 2008

Toxicology

Information is lacking. Purified storax is included in the USP and has been approved for food use at low concentrations (25 ppm); purified storax was previously included.Khan 2011 Renal injury is possible from application to a large surface area of the body.Duke 2002

References

Basak P, Arayata R, Brensilver J. Prevalence of specific aeroallergen sensitivity on skin prick test in patients with allergic rhinitis in Westchester County. Internet J Asthma Allergy Immunol. 2008;6(2).
Duke J. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc; 1992.
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
El-Readi MZ, Eid HH, Ashour ML, et al. Variations of the chemical composition and bioactivity of essential oils from leaves and stems of Liquidambar styraciflua (Altingiaceae). J Pharm Pharmacol. 2013;65(11):1653-1663.24117424
Fukuda Y, Sakai K, Matsunaga S, Tokuda H, Tanaka R. Cancer chemopreventive activity of lupane- and oleanane-type triterpenoids from the cones of Liquidamber styraciflua. Chem Biodivers. 2005;2(3):421-428.17191990
Khan I, Abourashed EA. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2011.
Koo BS, Lee SI, Ha JH, Lee DU. Inhibitory effects of the essential oil from SuHeXiang Wan on the central nervous system after inhalation. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004;27(4):515-519.15056857
Liquidambar orientalis Mill. USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed 2015.
Morton JF. Major Medicinal Plants: Botany, Culture, and Uses. Springfield, IL: Thomas; 1977.
Sakai K, Fukuda Y, Matsunaga S, Tanaka R, Yamori T. New cytotoxic oleanane-type triterpenoids from the cones of Liquidamber styraciflua. J Nat Prod. 2004;67(7):1088-1093.15270558
Storax. In: United States Pharmacopeial Convention. The United States Pharmacopeia. The National Formulary. 28th ed. Rockville, MD: United States Pharmacopeial Convention Inc; 2010. http://www.pharmacopeia.cn/v29240/usp29nf24s0_m78290.html
Wyllie SG, Brophy JJ. The Leaf Oil of Liquidambar styraciflua. Planta Med. 1989;55(3):316-317.17262429

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Hide