It's likely you haven't thought twice about those glistening clear-amber droplets of sticky liquid you've spotted on a tree during your nature walks. Thankfully, other people have, and they discovered natural tree resin is pretty remarkable.
What is Resin?
Healthy, thriving tree bark, flowers, shrubs and herbs contain resin. In trees, the clear liquid lifeblood found inside the bark helps heal the tree when damaged or cut, creating a hardened protective barrier over the exposed part of the tree, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. But this sticky liquid also offers benefits to humans.
In Maine, balsam fir resin is incredibly popular. Native Americans used it for centuries as a medicine for colds and rheumatism, while doctors used to recommend it (as part of a concoction) to treat smallpox, ulcers, and abscesses. World War II soldiers used the natural ingredient as "transparent cement in gun sights and other optical equipment" to waterproof ropes and seal seams in wooden ships, according to The University of Maine Cooperative Extension. It can also be used to start a fire and possibly treat a burn.
And it's not just available in Maine either. Additional trees and plants that produce resin include birch, willow, aspen, cedar, pine, redwood, spruce, gardenias, morning glories, coffee, dill, fennel, and even sunflowers.
Tree Resin Uses in Toothpaste
Sticky things are usually bad for your teeth but not here. Back in the day, pure resin was chewed much like modern day bubble gum for its breath-freshening abilities, so it's no surprise it has found its way into oral care products.
The sticky resin from various plants is processed into several ingredients you might find listed on a tube of toothpaste, including propolis cera and propolis extract, which give you a healthy-feeling mouth. Tree resin is also processed into acacia, acacia gum, and acacia senegal gum. Those are all used as flavor carriers and thus let you can enjoy a variety of toothpaste flavors.
Have you ever encountered this sticky substance while exploring nature? What's your favorite flavor of toothpaste? Does it contain tree resin? Tell us on Twitter!
This article was brought to you by Tom's of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom's of Maine.
Why It’s Good
Tree resin is a naturally occurring substance that can be harvested from live plants and is sometimes found in toothpaste. This sustainable, environmentally friendly ingredient fits with the philosophy of creating healthy products while being mindful of your impact on the planet.