If you don’t know what Palo Santo is, keep reading here to learn about the story of this tree and some of its beneficial characteristics… if you are looking to buy you can directly jump into the store by clicking here.
We encourage you to read about its wonderful characteristics. :-)
What is Palo Santo Wood? (Bursera graveolens) has been valued for its therapeutic properties since centuries ago. The direct translation from Spanish means ‘holy stick’. It is harvested from an indigenous tree in arid areas of South America. The tree belongs to the same family as myrrh and frankincense, which are classified as Burseraceae. Palo Santo holy wood is used for a wide variety of purposes ranging from medicinal tea, incense and palo santo essential oil production, to home furniture and flooring.
The tree is easily distinguished by its bright green leaves only present in the rainy seasons and its whitish gray bark. It is a ‘half height’ tree (growing no more than 20 meters – about 65 feet).The fruit of this tree is of a dark green color, but is not used. The trunk and branches of the tree are utilized. Experts say that it is necessary for the wood to be “dead” to be able to extract the essential oils. It is essential that the tree is dead for at least four years to obtain the best quality wood.
Locals often use the wood in production of handicrafts, tea and incense sticks, mainly used for religious / spiritual, and health purposes. There are many benefits to the Palo Santo wood metaphysical properties. The spiritual significance of Palo Santo wood explains the reason why it is called `holy wood’.
Traditionally the sweet smelling aroma of the palo santo sacred wood is harnessed through the use of ‘smudging’ to drive away negative energies from one’s aura or home. It is believed that when the palo santo incense is lit it eliminates stagnant or negative energies and purifies the space, bringing uplifting positive energies, higher vibrations and good luck. The soothing aroma of the smoke is often used to give your house a sweet smelling aroma and feel. Some people harness the power of palo santo wood for homeopathic purposes. It has been attributed to have capability of assisting in healing of colds, arthritis and asthma among other diseases.
Our Palo Santo wood is 100% natural, untreated, and hand selected only from wild trees that have naturally fallen on the ground in the protected forests of Ecuador. No live trees are destroyed in collection of the palo santo wood that we provide. Our palo santo is harvested alongside a robust reforestation program that has planted around 40,000 trees, as of date. Every purchase you make with us supports the replanting of these sacred trees.
Why only naturally fallen trees? Palo Santo is an endangered tree under government protection. It is illegal to cut down or damage live Palo Santo trees. Aside from this obvious environmental factor, it is unfruitful to use fresh live palo santo wood for aromatic purposes. Here’s why…
Once a live tree naturally falls (after an average life span of 40 years), the trees go through a process of ‘curing’ which draws the essential, aromatic oils into the heartwood. If a tree is cut down and used right away it will not have the same aromatic properties. The longer a tree is cured, the more potent it’s aroma and oils become. All of our palo santo products are created from trees that have cured an average of 8 years, and are harvested in sustainable, legal practices.
When using the wood as incense, the Palo Santo wood sticks are burnt on their own. Once the stick is on fire, it will burn independently for a minute or so, then extinguish itself. The short burning period is adequate to produce smoke that will give your house a sweet smelling aroma. The slow burning nature of the wood makes it possible to use on several occasions. In some cases, the wood is often grounded into powder and used as a component of making incense mixtures. Palo Santo wood blends excellently with variety of other woods such as sandalwood, copal resins, benzoin and balsams among other kinds of woods.
The delicately sweet, warm and rosy-woodsy aroma of the wood makes it an appropriate ingredient for use in aromatherapy products and perfumes. The wood has also been utilized in culinary purposes as a food flavoring component. For medicinal purposes, the wood is antiseptic, and is often used for treatment of inflammation, tension, convulsions, dermatitis, acne and wounds.
You can also watch my video about space clearing with palo santo here and be sure to pick up some of our high quality Palo Santo incense sticks from our store!
Palo Santo oil
The incense and the essential oils come from the “heartwood”- the cortex of the tree. Leaves are also traditionally used, as they can help in the healing of different ailments. When the wood is burned, it emits a characteristic sweet smell. This is why it is used as incense. Expert perfumers say that its fragrance mixes notes of eucalyptus, peppermint, cedar, lemon and sweet grass.
One of the chemical components of the wood’s essence is “limonene”. This substance acts as a cleanser for tangible objects as well as for spiritual matters.
Many in search of this South American hardwood are specifically interested by the essential oil extracted from it. Among the properties listed above, palo santo benefits also include: ability to enhance immunity, anti-bacterial properties, bone healing, pain suppression and relaxation of the mind. With the oil from the wood, you can be assured your mind will be at peace.
Palo Santo essential oil is also rich in limonene oil, a kind of monoterpene compound that has been discovered to have chemo-therapeutic effects and chemo-preventive effects against different kinds of cancers. The wood is also used in homeopathic treatment for anxiety and panic attacks, as a respiratory treatment for asthma, cough and colds, for migraines, headaches and also in massage therapy to address pain and inflammation of joints and muscles.
This is why it is common that Palo Santo has been used to support rituals, religious ceremonies and in alternative therapies, all based on the metaphysical properties of some of its natural elements. The smoke that the lighted wood creates helps cleanse any “negativity” and at the same time purifies the room or space.
Those who wish to promote a calm and relaxing environment usually do it by burning a piece of Palo Santo wood. It is sold as “incense” but you can also find the leaves in dietetics. It is important to know that palo santo can only be ingested as tea. It is said that women use the tea as a natural contraceptive.
In terms of traditional medicinal use, palo santo oil is a powerful healer for cutaneous wounds and the bark is excellent for stomach problems. It is also commonly applied as compresses for muscle pain. The essential oil is a great anti-depressive, disinfectant and diuretic. It is even used as an insect repellent.
If we talk about esoteric purposes, Palo Santo sticks are used for meditation, space clearing, shamanic healing, yoga classes, or to simply create an intimate romantic environment. ;-) Many people use the smoke to fill rooms where there are family discussions, general living spaces, in their car, and to promote an atmosphere of calm and concentration at the office.
As for numerous archaeological excavations, today we know that Palo Santo was used by the ancient Inca culture. The priests burned the wood to attract positive energies, keep away bad spirits and promote contact with benefactor gods. Ritualistic sacred bonfires were fueled with the precious aromatic wood to protect the ceremony location. On the other hand, the rest of the people used it daily for prayers, the promotion of good moods, and for purifying of their homes.
With the discovery and conquer of America, it became known as “quebrancho” (a native word that means something like “breaker”), because the Spaniards broke their axes when trying to cut its hard wood.
According to native legends, newly married couples should plant a Palo Santo wood branch together, without being seen, to bind their lives and make the marriage become eternal.
As we can see, Palo Santo is almost a miraculous tree that can contribute greatly to enrich our lives. It doesn’t matter if we believe in its properties or not. Simply put, no one could deny that lighting a piece of this wood to smell its sweet aroma will offer a sensation of incomparable harmony and well being.
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