Tag Archives: incense

Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses

One of the earliest use of plant-matter was by burning it, breathing in the smoke. Some plants would help with respiratory problems, some with nausea or head-aches. Some plants would calm and relax, others were considered to open the mind for the unseen – the world of the Gods.

So of course I was not surprised when I stumbled upon this article:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520110415.htm

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THE MYSTICAL SCENT OF OUD

Oud is an oil that has fascinated me for the last 18 years. Its scent is mystical, mythical and magical, this is why I want to present this profile to you.

Oud or Agarwood or Aloeswood (Aquilaria agollocha, A. malaccensis, A. crassna) is an evergreen tree native to the forests of Northeast India, Bhutan and Southeast Asia; Viet Nam, Kambodja, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea. The tree reaches a height of about 40m with a diameter of about 60cm. It bears sweetly-scented snow-white flowers. For the oil to exist, the tree needs to be infected with a fungi; Phialophora parasitica. The tree produces this oleoresin to protect itself against the fungi by saturating the heartwood. The longer time a tree is infected, the deeper and darker the oleoresin gets. This can take up to a 100 years and inevitably ends with the tree dying. By this time the heartwood is almost black, deeply saturated and scented by the oleoresin. The heartwood of an uninfected tree is light and pale-colored.

Extraction methods:

  • Water extraction: The wood is immersed in water for about 3 months, after which it is put into stills (huge burners) where it is cooked for many hours until the resin dissolves and floats to the top of the water; Indian distillation method.
  • Steam distillation of the wood-chips; Mostly used by East Asian countries.
  • CO2 extraction: When a certain amount of pressure is applied to CO2 (carbon dioxide) this gas turns into liquid. This liquid CO2 can be used as a very inert, safe, “liquid solvent.” CO2 is the gas we all breathe out of our lungs. It is also the gas that plants themselves thrive on.

Because of the immense popularity of this plant-matter for oil, perfume and incense, the trees are now endangered species  protected world-wide under the CITES-convention (http://www.cites.org/) and by laws in the different countries. Even so a large number of trees are illegally cut down to obtain this hugely expensive material.

There are many grades of Oud; First-grade (the highest quality) is one of the most expensive natural products in the world. The pricing lies around 13 000 dollars/pound of oil. (0,453kg) The oils from wild trees (illegal) catch an even higher price, more than 27 000 dollars/pound. The whole-sale price for a decent quality oil is around 1000-1400 dollars/ounce. (30ml)

In Assam, India a few families have started plantations with Aquilaria agollocha, ensuring the survival of this precious tree and its hidden gifts. Most reputed Oud-traders today, trade with plantation-grown oils and wood. Due to the success of the plantations in Assam other countries are following suit; Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and other areas in Southeast Asia.

History

Oud has a long history of use in the eastern parts of the world; Buddhist monks use ut for meditation, saying it aids in the transmutation of ignorance. Tibetan monks use it to calm the mind and spirit. Sufis use it for esoteric ceremonies and in China it is considered to have psychoactive properties. Oud has been used as incense, aromatic oil and medicine for thousands of years. It is mentioned in the Bible (under the name of Aloewood): “Nicodemus used pounded aloewood to embalm the body of Christ”. The Prophet Muhammed of Islam mentions in the Koran 1400 years ago; “Treat with Indian Oud, for it has healing for seven diseases”. In Egypt Oud was used by the Pharaos for embalming. Buddha called it the “Scent of Nirvana“.

The Scent

Complex, balsamic, deep woody fragrance. Tenacious basenote, it lingers longer than any other known scent. The scent is rare and powerful. Blended with other precious oils such as Rose (r.centifolia, r. damascena), Jasmin (jasminus officinalis), Sandalwood (santalum album), it enhances them and creates a blend which is deeply soulful.

Uses

A well-known aphrodisiac; use it as a perfume neat on the skin (I recommend a patch-test for sensitive skin) or diluted in Jojoba-oil or alcohol. The skin will release its scent over the course of 12-15 hours. (It is tested safe to use undiluted on skin.) The oil is viscous and in room-temperature it stays thick. To make it thinner, put the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

It has been used by Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unani physicians in practice to treat various disease and mental illness.The list of ailments that can be helped by Oud oil is vast. I will not document it here, since considering the price and rarity of this oil, it is better used for higher purposes such as meditation and personal growth. During my research I have found that every eastern culture names Oud in treatment of the respiratory and digestive systems. This is interesting because these two systems are both deeply connected to life-force, and the most outstanding feature of Oud is its magical and mystical properties when used in meditation; It connects Heaven and Earth within us, creating balance, inner peace and enlightment.

ESSENTIAL OIL & SCENT HISTORY part 1

incenseThe history of essential oils is exciting, romantic and mind-boggling. The stories are everywhere; the whole bible is full of allusions to essential oils. What makes it so exciting is that this part of history is continuously here and now. Each time I smell an oil, I am smelling the whole stretch of history…I am actually part of it, and what the oil does to me, it has done to every person since the dawn of time! And knowing the oils gives me insight to why some oils were used in specific situations. Mind-boggling!

The word Perfume is derived from the Latin per fumum, meaning through smoke. Early man found that certain herbs gave a rich-scenting and healing smoke when placed on the fire. These plants were, naturally, special gifts from the Gods. Bad smells, such as rot and decay, were dangerous to health, so early man learned, by using the sense of smell, what was good and what was bad. I believe these early learnings have become part of a human hereditary trait; every person recognizes the smell of rot and bacteria infestation, even if they never smelled it before.

Queen Hatsheput templeEGYPT:

The Egyptians are the best-known when it comes to the use of aromatic substances. There are ample records on papyrus-rolls dating back to 1700 B.C of how they were used. Wealthy people wore perfumed wax-cones on their heads to melt during the day and infuse them in scent. (We need to remember that these times were stinky. People and their waste is smelly business.) The whole embalming-process was done with essential oils, resins and other scented substances. The process could take up to 6 months and would cost a fortune. This was done for royalty and very wealthy individuals. The “quickie-embalmings” for the not-so-wealthy would take as little as a day. When Tutankhamons grave was opened in the 1920:s (after being sealed for more than 2000 years) small pots were found with solidified scented matter, with the scent still discernible to the nose. Analysis showed it to be wax infused with Frankincense (boswellia carterii) and Myrrh (commiphora myrrha)

The Egyptian temples were in fact laboratories for the priests who were the connectors to God. Only the priests had the knowledge of how to create medicines and holy potions. There are records of medicine for hay-fever, youth-elixirs, and potions to prevent pregnancy. Each hour of the day had a special perfume. In Heliopolis, the city of the Sun-God Ra, Frankincense was burned at sunrise, Myrrh (commiphora myrrha) at noon and Kyphi at sunset. Kyphi is one of the first documented perfumes in history. There are 16 ingredients of which 12 are identified: Calmus, Cassia, Cinnamon, Cyperus, Frankincense, Hina, Juniper, Mastic, Myrrh, Saffron, Spikenard and Turpentine.

Kyphi

Each God had its own scent and the statues in the temples were anointed every day. Osiris had Marjoram (origanum majorana) and Ra had Frankincense.

Scented herbs, spices, flowers, barks, woods and resins were imported from Malaysia, China and India. Frankincense resin came from the Arabic peninsula. The resin comes from a small desert-tree and is to this day collected by nomadic tribes. At the time only  certain tribes knew where to find it and how to get it, and this made Frankincense a very valuable substance, even more valuable than gold.

frankincense resin