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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

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 21, 2022.

Clinical Overview


In vitro studies evaluating storax have demonstrated antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities. Storax is used as a skin protectant and flavoring agent, as well as in perfumery. However, clinical trial data are lacking to recommend use for any indication.


There is no clinical evidence to support dosing recommendations.


Contraindications have not been identified.


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


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergic rhinitis has been reported.


Information is lacking. Purified storax is included in the United States Pharmacopeia and has been approved for use in food in small concentrations (up to 25 ppm). Topical application to a large surface area may lead to transdermal absorption followed by kidney damage (albuminuria or hemorrhagic nephritis).

Scientific Family

  • Hamamelidaceae (witch hazel)


American storax is obtained from the L. styraciflua tree, which is found near the Atlantic coast from New England to Central America and can reach heights of 20 m, with some growing in excess of 30 m.Lingbeck 2015, USDA 2020 Levant storax (L. orientalis) is a smaller 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 that are distributed by wind.USDA 2020


Storax has been used as an expectorant, especially for inhalation with warm air vaporizers. It has also been used as a topical parasiticide.Duru 2002 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 diuretic. It is also applied topically to sores and wounds. Antimicrobial natural preparations involving storax have long been used topically for treating infections. The antituberculosis effect of cinnamic acid may explain the traditional use of storax (L. orientalis) and cinnamon for treating tuberculosis in the 19th century.Guzman 2014 Storax was once used in the United States as a component of hemorrhoid preparations, but more recently has been used as an ingredient in the compound benzoin tincture for use as a topical protectant.Khan 2010 Storax is used in food products as a flavoring and fixative, as well as in soaps and perfumes.Khan 2010 Resins derived from storax have been used in perfumes and incense and as food flavoring. The species of Liquidambar are known for their balsamic exudations.Duru 2002 The reddish-brown wood of the tree, known as satin walnut, is used in furniture.Duke 2002, Morton 1977


Crude liquid storax is obtained by 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 prevents the loss of its volatile constituents, according to the United States Pharmacopoeia.USP 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 2010 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 oils. Following hydrodistillation of L. styraciflua dried leaves, the main compounds of the essential oil were alpha-pinene (43.7%), beta-pinene (10.7%), d-limonene (35.3%), and terpinen-4-ol (10.3%).Mancarz 2019 The stem oil contains germacrene D and alpha-cadinol.El-Readi 2013 Other volatile oils include terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, sabinene, and viridiflorene.Duru 2002 Cinnamic acids and related molecules are partly responsible for the therapeutic effects observed with storax preparations. Most of the cinnamic acids, as well as their esters, amides, aldehydes, and alcohols, show growth inhibition against one or several bacterial and fungal species.Guzman 2014

Uses and Pharmacology

Antibacterial effects

In vitro data

Antibacterial activity has been described for ethanolic extracts of storax.Khan 2010, Wyllie 1989 Natural cinnamic acids from storax have demonstrated in vitro antimicrobial activity against a variety of human pathogens, including multidrug-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.Guzman 2014, Lingbeck 2015, Sağdiç 2005 Both genotoxic and cytotoxic effects were noted for L. orientalis balsam.Karadeniz 2013 The synergy between L. styraciflua plant extracts and ciprofloxacin and tetracycline was studied using the checkerboard assay method against 8 bacterial strains. The study concluded that L. styraciflua demonstrates potentially synergistic interactions with antibiotics against bacteria.Mancarz 2019

Anti-inflammatory effects

In vitro data

The anti-inflammatory activity of L. styraciflua was tested using a hyaluronidase enzyme inhibition assay, and cytotoxic activities were tested by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2 yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. This study concluded that L. styraciflua may possess high anti-inflammatory activity.Mancarz 2019, Mancarz 2019

Antioxidant activity

In vitro data

L. orientalis methanolic extracts have shown strong antioxidant activity in vitro (trolox equivalent=2.23 mM).Okmen 2014


Animal and in vitro data

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


There is no clinical evidence to support dosing recommendations.

Pregnancy / Lactation

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


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

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


Information is lacking. Purified storax is included in the United States Pharmacopeia and has been approved for use in food at low concentrations (up to 25 ppm).Khan 2010, USP 2010 Topical application to a large surface area may lead to transdermal absorption followed by kidney damage (albuminuria or hemorrhagic nephritis).Duke 2002



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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.

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Duru ME, Cakir A, Harmandar M. Composition of the volatile oils isolated from the leaves of Liquidambar orientalis Mill. var. orientalis and L. orientalis var. integriloba from Turkey. Flavour Fragr J. 2002;17:95-98.
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
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Liquidambar orientalis Mill. USDA, NRCS. 2020. The PLANTS Database (, 20 August 2020). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Mancarz GFF, Laba LC, da Silva ECP, et al. Liquidambar styraciflua L.: a new potential source for therapeutic uses. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2019;174:422-431. doi:10.1016/j.jpba.2019.06.00331220700
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Morton JF. Major Medicinal Plants: Botany, Culture, and Uses. Thomas; 1977.
Okmen G, Turkcan O, Ceylan O, Gork G. The antimicrobial activity of Liquidambar orientalis Mill. against food pathogens and antioxidant capacity of leaf extracts. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2014;11(5):28-32. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v11i5.425395700
Sağdiç O, Ozkan G, Ozcan M, Ozçelik S. A study on inhibitory effects of Siğla tree (Liquidambar orientalis Mill. var. orientalis) storax against several bacteria. Phytother Res. 2005;19(6):549-551. doi:10.1002/ptr.165416114094
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
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Wyllie SG, Brophy JJ. The leaf oil of Liquidambar styraciflua. Planta Med. 1989;55(3):316-317.17262429

Further information

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