Fir Balsam Himalayan Essential Oil (Abies spectabilis)

Fir Balsam Himalayan Essential Oil
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Botanical name  Abies spectabilis

Synonym   East Himalayan fir, Himalayan silver fir

Botanical synonyms  Abies webbiana (Wall ex D. Don) Lindl., Pinus spectabilis D. Don, Pinus webbiana Wall ex D. Don

Family  Pinaceae

Source  Needles (leaves) and twigs

Origin  India

Processing Method  Steam Distillation

Color/Consistency  A medium, clear, colourless to pale yellow liquid.

Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma  A middle note of strong aroma, Fir Balsam Essential Oil has the crisp, clean scent of fir balsam needles.

Blends With  Cedar wood, Pine, Benzoin, Lavender, Patchouli, Spruce and Rosemary

Product Abstract

Like so many popular essential oils, fir needle essential is extracted through a process of steam distillation from fir needles, primarily from the species Abies balsamea. The needles are the most important part of this plant, as that is where the active ingredients and powerful chemical compounds are located. Once the essential oil is extracted, it can be used for a wide variety of applications, notably in the form of topical ointments or additives to other carrier oils that have other health properties. The combination of tricyclene, a-pinene, borneol, limonene, acetate, and myrcene all combine for these impressive health effects.


First described in 1768, balsam fir is a medium-sized tree generally reaching 40-60 feet in height and 1-1 1/2 feet in diameter. It exhibits a relatively dense, dark-green, pyramidal crown with a slender spire-like tip. The scientific name "balsamea" is an ancient word for the balsam tree, so named because of the many resinous blisters found in the bark. Balsam fir and Fraser fir have many similar characteristics, although geographic ranges of the two species do not overlap.

Dr. Wooster Beech (1794-1868), founder of the Eclectic healing movement, regarded balsam fir as a stimulant and laxative when taken internally and as an emollient and coolant when used externally.

Harvesting/Extraction Information

The antibacterial activity of the essential oil of Abies balsamea (balsam fir) was evaluated against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The essential oil of A. balsamea was found to be inactive against E. coli (>100 µg/mL) and active against S. aureus, with an MIC of 56 µg/mL. The oil composition was analysed by GC-MS and the antibacterial activity of each oil constituent was determined.

Common Usage

  • Relieves Pain
  • Detoxifies the Body
  • Improves Respiratory Function
  • Increases Metabolism
  • Eliminates Body Odor


Despite the versatility of this particular essential oil, it is important to never consume essential oils internally. Inhalation in the form of aromatherapy is safe in certain situations, but it is always better to speak with an herbalist or an aromatherapist before embarking on this sort of alternative treatment. Also, due to the high concentration of chemicals in these oils,undiluted oils can be very powerful and dangerous when your skin is directly exposed to it.

Key constituents

(þ)-Limonene  29.6%

a-Pinene 19.1%

b-Pinene 9.1%

b-Caryophyllene 5.3%

Bornyl acetate 4.7%

Calarene* 4.2%

Camphene 3.7%

b-Bourbonene 3.3%

b-Maaliene 3.3%

g-Selinene 3.3%

b-Myrcene 2.5%

-Caryophyllene 2.4%

d-Cadinene 2.1%

Quality  Fir needle oils may be adulterated with turpentine oil fractions, mixtures of camphene, ()-bornyl acetate and so on.

Safety summary
Hazards  Skin sensitization if oxidized.
Cautions  Old or oxidized oils should be avoided.

Our safety advice
Because of its (þ)-limonene and a-pinene content we recommend that oxidation of Himalayan fir needle oil is avoided by storage in a dark, airtight container in a refrigerator. The addition of an antioxidant to preparations containing it is recommended .

Regulatory guidelines
Essential oils derived from the Pinaceae family, including Pinus and Abies genera, should only be used when the level of peroxides is kept to the lowest practicable level, for example by the addition of antioxidants at the time of production.

Organ-specific effects
Reproductive toxicity  The low reproductive toxicity of (þ)- limonene, a-pinene and b-pinene suggests that Himalayan fir needle oil is not  hazardousin pregnancy.

Systemic effects
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential  No information! found for Himalayan fir needle oil, but it contains no known carcinogens. (þ)-Limonene exhibits anticarcinogenic activity.

Limited availability.

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