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Palo Santo Essential Oil

by Amy Galper

palo alto oil_feature

If you are looking for an essential oil to help you connect with your spiritual side, Palo Santo oil (Bursera graveolens)  makes it easy.

Many years ago we were gifted a grocery bag full of coarsely chopped chunks of Palo Santo wood, brought to us by a friend who had recently returned from Peru, where he had been studying with a Shaman.

Roughly cut and pale in color, the chunks were surprisingly light weight. Each piece was incredibly pungent, and despite my countless concentrated sniffs, I couldn’t quite articulate the complex array of citrus edges and balsamic smokey bases. The aroma was foreign, lingering and transformative.

Once lit, the smoke circled everywhere and I felt the energy in our home shift. Like White Sage, Palo Santo can be burned to cleanse and clear spaces of negative energy and obstacles, and reset the landscape to draw in positivity and change.

In Spanish, Palo Santo means “holy wood,” and the essential oil that is steam distilled from the aged dry heartwood also has chemical components that have powerful therapeutic actions on the physical body; like providing relief from upper respiratory imbalances, bolstering immunity and quieting excessive over-thinking and worry.

A mystical tree, it is indigenous to Central and South America, specifically places like Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and grows wild amidst arid rugged terrain. The essential oil is steam distilled only from dead branches and fallen trunks that have been left lying for at least two years. The resin needs time to seep and imbue into the center part of the wood before the essential oil can be extracted via steam distillion. Official permits are required to harvest and gather the fallen wood because the trees, known for their hidden spiritual powers, are protected by the government.

It’s history as a powerful healer, reaches as far back as the time of the Incas, who were believed to have not only used the uniquely odiferous smoke from the burning wood to improve health and well-being, but also as an integral element of their ritual purification ceremonies.

Used for centuries in shamanic ceremonies, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the Palo Santo tree is from the same botanical family as Frankincense and Myrrh.  And like its middle eastern relatives, its aroma encourages us to look inward and examine the deepest part of who we are.

Palo Santo essential oil is best used with the intention of deepening the mind-body connection.  I like to blend it with other essential oils that offer grounding and clarity, calmness and peace. Essential oils like firs and pines and citruses all work well with Palo Santo, especially if exploring different approaches to improving concentration and focus.

Here’s a great blend for a meditation balm:

Palo Santo

Frankincense – for looking inward

Bergamot – clarity and positivity

Balsam Fir – deepening and opening the breath

Roman Chamomile – calming and supporting the heart energy.

And for a body or room spray, to clear space and inspire meditation try:

Palo Santo

Ginger and Spikenard – for deepening the relationship between our physical and energetic bodies

Ylang ylang –  to open the heart.

Connect with Amy @NYIofAroma

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