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There is a lot of misinformation around about the Palo Santo tree being endangered. There are two different trees, both known as Palo Santo, which means “Holy Wood”. The Bulnesia sarmientoi is also known as Palo Santo and it is the species that is endangered. The Bursera graveolens is farmed and forested sustainably and is not endangered. We source all of our Palo Santo products from companies that work directly with the farmers to make sure it is harvested using best practices for sustainability.
Bursera graveolens, known in Spanish as Palo Santo (“Holy Wood”), is a wild tree native from the Yucatán Peninsula to Peru and Venezuela.
Bursera graveolens is found in the seasonally dry tropical forests of Peru, Venezuela, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, and on the Galápagos Islands. The tree belongs to the same family (Burseraceae) as frankincense and myrrh. It is widely used in ritual purification and as folk medicine for stomach ache, as a sudorific, and as liniment for rheumatism. Aged heartwood, and the resin, is rich in terpenes such as limonene and α-terpineol.
The use of palo santo from B. graveolens is traditional in South America, especially in Peru and Ecuador. According to the local customs, it is used against the “mala energía” (bad energy) (“Palo santo para limpiar tu casa de la mala energia, palo santo para la buena suerte” or “Palo santo to clean your house of bad energy, palo santo for good luck”), which may sometimes refer to clinical disease. Its use reportedly dates back to the Inca era. Palo santo is common today as a type of incense, which gives off an aroma reminiscent of baked apples or burnt sugar.
Palo Santo Oil was used during the time of the Incas for its reputed spiritual purifying properties. Today, Palo Santo Oil may be applied to the body (such as at the base of the skull or on the spine) to increase relaxation, similar to aromatherapy.
Palo Santo may be burned, similar to incense, by lighting shavings of Palo Santo Wood. Or you can make your own incense using our Palo Santo Wood Powder. Interested in making your own incense? Read our new page on Incense & How to Make Your Own
In Peru, a shaman, or medicine man, reportedly lights palo santo sticks and the rising smoke will enter the “energy field” of ritual participants to “clear misfortune, negative thoughtprints, and ‘evil spirits’”. Peruvians harvest fallen branches and twigs of the B. graveolens tree, a practice that is regulated by the government of Peru, so trees are not cut for wood harvesting. The charcoal of palo santo sticks can also be used for ritual smudging.
When it burns, the aromatic wood releases lemon, mint, and pine notes—an invigorating, grounding fragrance that is believed to have a number of benefits. And the Resin from the Palo Santo has the same beautiful scent. It is ideal for burning as an incense.
Palo Santo is traditionally used to clear negative energy, and to purify a space, people and objects.
It’s scent is very relaxing making it ideal for preparing the mind for meditation or creative focus.
Palo santo was traditionally used as a remedy for ailments like the common cold, headaches, and stress. While clinical studies on the wood’s medicinal effects are limited, it is rich in both antioxidants and limonene, a terpene that has been extensively researched and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you don’t wish to make your own incense, you can place a small pile of Palo Santo Powder in a heat proof dish. Make a little pyramid with it and light the top. The powder will smolder release the beautiful Palo Santo scent.
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