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What Is Palo Santo, and How Is It Used Medicinally?

What Is Palo Santo, and How Is It Used Medicinally?

Palo santo (Bursera graveolens) is a tree that’s native to Peru, Ecuador, and other South American countries. It grows in dry tropical forests and produces very fragrant resin. In Spanish, palo santo means “holy wood.”

For thousands of years, the wood, resin, and oil have been used for medicinal purposes. It’s mainly used to treat pain and stress. It’s also said to clear negative energy.

Palo santo is available in different forms. You can use it as:

  • Wood. The wood of the palo santo tree is available as sticks, chips, or powder. It usually comes from the branches of the tree, so it’s 100 percent wood.
  • Resin. Palo santo wood contains a very aromatic resin, which can be extracted and used separately.
  • Oil. The essential oil of palo santo can be derived from the wood and fruit.

The benefits of palo santo:

1. It helps clear negative energy.

The high resin content of palo santo wood is believed to have purifying properties when it's burned, hence why it was traditionally used to clear negative energy and purify spaces, people, and objects.


2. Its scent is relaxing.

Burning palo santo as part of a calming ritual can help promote a shift in energy. The pleasing, grounding aroma of palo santo triggers the brain's olfactory system, stimulating the relaxation response and preparing the mind for meditation or creative focus.

3. It might help ease stress and pain.

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.

How to use palo santo for meditation, space clearing, and more.

Once you are equipped with some context and history, burning palo santo sticks or using palo santo essential oil is pretty straightforward. Here are a few ways to incorporate it into your spiritual practice. (One quick note: Whenever you light palo santo sticks, avoid directly inhaling the smoke and prop open a door or window.)

For meditating: 

Use a match or lighter to ignite the end of your palo santo stick, and let it burn for about 30 seconds or so before blowing it out. The smoldering end will give off a white smoke for a few minutes, and you can prop it in an incense burner in advance of your practice. The grounding aroma can help you prepare your mind and energy for meditation.

For clearing your space:

Begin with a clear, simple intention to clear the negative energy in your space and mind. Light the stick as above and move around the room, waving the wood to spread the smoke. Remember to focus your mind, and note that you may need to relight the stick once or twice.

For therapeutic benefits:

Palo santo essential oil can be diffused for aromatherapy and may reduce tension, boost mood, and calm the nervous system.

Using palo santo in your home can be a beautiful, beneficial way to clear your space and calm the mind. But you need to be sure to be mindful of the sanctity of its traditional use and responsible about where you buy.

All Palo Santo sold at Ascendant Books is GUARANTEED ethically sourced.



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