In aromatherapy, benzoin incense has a calming influence on the body but can cause contact dermatitis. It is a mild stimulant and antiseptic, and it is used to treat skin irritations such as itchiness, dryness, and redness after blending it with oil.
Papyrus records from ancient Egypt indicate that benzoin resin was mixed with other aromatic resins, like pine, juniper, cypress, galbanum, and labdanum, to create an aromatic powder that Egyptian dancers applied to their heads.
Benzoin is used as a fragrance by Indonesian Muslims also. An incense of scented wood chips called Bakhoor, popular in the Middle East, contains benzoin. Bakhoor is used on coal fires to produce a powerful aroma and is part of the ancient Arabic tribal tradition of living outdoors. Benzoin is also used as incense in Orthodox Christian and Greek Christian churches.
A 2001 Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) study of Indonesian export data estimates the annual export of Sumatra benzoin at 1,000 metric tonnes. Most Styrax benzoin (the tree from which the resin is extracted) resin is used by the cosmetic and food industries.
You can learn more about the tree and its uses in history and today here.