Woman blowing out a burning Palo Santo stick

The Medicinal and Spiritual Power of Palo Santo

A recent resurgence in aromatherapy rituals and herbal health practices has seen a rise in the use of Palo Santo sticks.

Harvested from Palo Santo trees, it’s a wood primarily found in South American and Central American regions. A part of the citrus family (a close cousin to the religiously famous frankincense and myrrh) it has an earthy, warm, woody fragrance with hints of lemon, pine, musk and mint.

Although easily mistaken for just another trendy bouquet in beauty, skincare or social media circles, it actually has very proud and ancient roots and is a proven remedy for pain and stress.

So, with a lot of important interest sparked in taking care of our mental health as well as our physical health, Palo Santo may be of more use to you than you’d think…

A Significant & Sacred History

References to the Bursera graveolens tree date back centuries to Tiwanaku times, and later, the Incan Empire. Translated from Spanish as “holy wood” or “the wood of the saints”, the Palo Santo tree was first discovered by monks and was often used in spiritual ceremonies, prayers and offerings to the Gods.

It grows wild in the tropical dry forests of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil, and even along the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Pale grey with twisting branches and green leaves, it looks a little magical au naturel, but it’s even more so on the inside.

Healers, shamans and community elders from South America believe that Palo Santo has a strong, mystical spirit that needs to be treated with respect and sincerity. They say the spirit continues to live on in the wood long after the tree has fallen, and if it’s used properly, it will pass on its restorative powers to whoever possess part of it next.

This is one of the reasons why Palo Santo trees should never be cut down, just sustainably sourced. It’s wood, resin and oils in the fruit are only meant to be extracted three years after the natural death of the tree and when they’ve reached full maturity and intensity. However, you could be waiting a while, because although female Palo Santo trees can last for 40-50 years, male varieties can live as long as 200 years!

Palo Santo trees growing alongside a boardwalk

Health & Healing Benefits

Not only did Palo Santo provide ancient civilisations with spiritual guidance, it came with many medicinal benefits too.

Active ingredients extracted from the trunk of a Palo Santo tree have antimicrobial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve bloating, nausea and cramping, as well as headaches and stomachaches.

Palo Santo is also known to:

  • promote physical & spiritual healing
  • calm feelings of stress & anxiety
  • boost the immune system
  • fight viruses & infections
  • stimulate circulation
  • promote sleep
  • reduce muscle, joint & arthritis pain
  • increase mood & concentration
  • ease allergy symptoms & reactions

To get headache or migraine relief, mix Palo Santo oils with a carrier oil of your choice (think coconut, castor, olive, jojoba, rosehip and grapeseed) and rub small amounts into your temples. To combat cold and flu symptoms such as sore throats and congestion, pour the combination into boiling water and breathe in the steam.

Smelling the scent of burning Palo Santo sticks is a way of telling the brain and the body to tap into mindfulness and turn on its relaxation response. You’ll release dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters associated with making us feel happy and rewarded) and stimulate the production endorphins and enkephalins (the body’s natural pain killers). The overall effect is that you’ll experience feelings of mental and emotional clarity, peace and tranquility, and less physical discomfort.

Comprised mostly of limonene, the essential oils extracted were also traditionally used as a natural bug repellent against mosquitoes, ants and flies, and can still be used as such today!

Purifying Properties

After years on the forest floor, Palo Santo wood developed rich and fragrant essential oil as well as many amazing properties, including the power to remove obstacles, attract good fortune and clear negative energy.

The act of cleansing a room of negative energy is called “smudging” or burning in layman’s terms.

How to burn Palo Santo sticks:

  1. Light a stick with an electric lighter or match
  2. Hold the stick downward at a 45° angle
  3. Let the stick burn for 30 seconds
  4. Blow out the flame
  5. Wave the stick in the air and wave your free hand over it
  6. Then place it in a heatproof dish to let it burn (don’t leave it unattended)
A lit stick of Palo Santo burning next to a salt lamp and crystal on a dish

White smoke will be emitted from the smoldering stick, which can disperse around you or your space. Having a cathartic ritual like smudging is also useful for shifting unhelpful attachments and emotions. To amplify the effect, put a positive intention into the smoke before cleansing yourself and the space around you.

There are some, however, who feel uncomfortable around the aroma. If this happens to you, don’t fear – it’s all part of its purifying process! This reaction will gradually wear off the more you are exposed to the scent and the more you allow yourself to be open to its effects. If you have a severe lung condition or asthma, avoid burning as it may worsen your symptoms. It’s also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

To get the full body and mind benefits, Palo Santo is best paired with a candle, salt lamp or selenite tower in a room with no immediate distractions or physical obstacles. The best times to cleanse are before bed, after a long day around people, when you move into a new home or start a new job, before meditation and after an illness or argument.

Our Myles Gray Range

If the above benefits are sounding irresistible to you, you’re in luck! Here at Nerridah & Ross, we stock a few Palo Santo products you can try.

Myles Gray’s Cleansing and Protection Essential Oil Spray and Cleansing Kit can be used on their own or in conjunction. The spray will help you feel protected and safe, with its citrus scent and Black Tourmaline crystal infusion.

The kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions so you can become a cleansing pro in no time and rid your home of any negative or heavy energy. It contains a sage bundle, selenite wand and Palo Santo stick.

A cleansing kit bundle with Palo Santo, sage and a crystal

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