I Tried It: The Cleansing Powers of Palo Santo

February 10, 2016

Peaceful aromatherapy: Bring the magical aroma–and aura–of a yoga studio to your own home with Palo Santo.

Do you ever notice that calming, earthy aroma found in many a yoga studio? (No, I’m not talking about sweat.) It seems to come from a mysterious source, with no burning candles or essential oils in sight, and can sometimes result in a deeper, more satisfying practice than doing twenty sun salutations would. Most likely, that smell comes from the smoke of Palo Santo, a species of tree that is native to South America and known for its cleansing properties–hence its popularity among yogis and practitioners of meditation. And you’ll be glad to know that you don’t need to be a shaman to enjoy the lovely smell and benefits of Palo Santo in your own home or any space where negative energy tends to build up and affect your overall well-being; you can find it at stores ranging from new age boutiques to Whole Foods, or even online.

In Spanish, “palo santo” translates to “holy wood,” and it was initially used by Shamans and ancient Incan cultures during religious and healing ceremonies. Its aromatic notes include citrus and frankincense, together making a clean but strong scent. The wooden sticks are wild harvested from a sustainable forest in Ecuador, where branches fall naturally and are collected after years of drying out.

The most common way to use Palo Santo is burning the wood, but it may be made into a tea-like drink or, as an essential oil, used to relieve body pain, colds, stress, and inflammation and even alleviate symptoms of cancer. It also repels mosquitoes!

Burning the wood is easy and safe: simply light the tip of a Palo Santo stick with a match or candle and let it burn for around a minute. Blow out the flame, and set the stick in a heat-proof container like a glass or ceramic dish. Move the smoking stick around your room to purify negative energy and allow space for creativity, love, a deeper connection to higher spiritual vibrations–and maybe even a little magic–to enter. Be sure that the embers are fully extinguished before leaving the room, and never leave the flame unattended. The Palo Santo stick may be reused over and over again and will never burn out, which means an endless amount of cleansing is at your fingertips.

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Have you experienced the aromatherapeutic benefits of Palo Santo? Let us know in the comments below. 

Also by Jennifer: 3 Things You Need to Know about Grapeseed Oil

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Photos: Jennifer Kurdyla

Features Editor Jennifer Kurdyla is a New York City girl with Jersey roots and a propensity for getting lost in the urban jungle. An experienced publishing professional, yoga instructor, home chef, sometimes-runner, and writer, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in 2008 and became vegan in 2013. She has written for The Harvard Review Online, The Rumpus, and Music & Literature and maintains a wellness-based website, Be Nourished, which features original writing and recipes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @jenniferkurdyla, Twitter @jenniferkurdyla, and Pinterest.


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