Burning incense is a common practice used at homes in Arabian Gulf countries.
Even East and South Asian countries use it quite often.
The burning of sweet-scented incense fills the entire hallway the minute you walk in.
It is used in yoga practice room or meditation rooms to provide a relaxing feel.
When people burn incense, they only think of it as an air freshener, totally unaware of the positive physical and psychological effects it provides.
So by reading this article, you will see how the astonishing aroma of incense does more than meets the eye.
Here is a quick brief of what the topics included in the article are:
- What is an incense?
- Health benefits of using an incense
- Things to know before using an incense
What Is An Incense?
So here is the central question, what is an incense?
It’s a type of plant material, mainly grains of resins, that’s burned to produce a fragrant aroma.
Raw incense is either fresh or dried plant parts that contain the essence of the plant.
The surprising thing about incense is that ancient Egyptians used to drive away demons, manifest the presence of God and to please God .
In Asian countries especially in China, Taiwan, and Thailand, about half of its population burn incense daily when they worship God at home and temples .
Now the usage of incense has spread all over the world for a variety of purpose.
Here are some health benefits of incense if used regularly:
3 Types Of Natural Incense And Their Health Benefits
Many people love burning incense as it provides serenity and good health.
The aromatic effect of incense is not only good for the senses but also a herbal remedy for treating health problems.
Here is a list of three incense with their health benefits:
1. Sandalwood Incense
Sandalwood incense provides an aromatic, woodsy odor.
It’s considered as a better alternative to other air fresheners as it’s natural and safe.
Its aroma is so pleasant that it instantly lifts your mood providing a calming and relaxing effect.
Mainly sandalwood essential oil contains most of the benefits.
Incense sticks, obtained from the same plant, provides a benefit similar to that of the plant.
In a study conducted in 2014, found that the fragrance of sandalwood had a mild sedative and anti-anxiety effect on stressed mice, whereas such an outcome was missing in stressed mice non-treated with sandalwood .
The effect was due to the main components of the sandalwood oil such as (Z)‐α‐santalol and (Z)‐β‐santalol .
Such components provide the anxiolytic-like activity of sandalwood.
It also lowers systolic blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure helps the body to calm down, relieving you from the stress .
Moreover, sandalwood helps to improve the ability to concentrate and help with the memory.
2. Frankincense Incense
Frankincense, aromatic resin is obtained from the Boswellia tree.
Boswellia tree, found throughout Asia and Africa, was used since ancient times for ritual, healing purpose, and also as perfume for its fragrance.
In a Journal of Traditional Complement Med. Published in 2013, reports the use of Frankincense of B. carterii as a remedy for improving the blood circulation, relieving pain in leprosy, gonorrhea, and cancer patients .
The incense and candles provide this therapeutic benefits from Frankincense .
Moreover, burning incense or candles containing Frankincense is useful for the periods of labor requiring deep breathing as suggested by the American Pregnancy Association.
These health benefits in Frankincense is due to the volatile oil and other chemical components such as monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes found in it .
3. Lavender Incense
Lavender belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae, commonly used for their fragrant leaves and gorgeous flowers.
They are mainly cultivated for their essential oils whereas their dried flowers are used in baths or used in sachets to scent rooms for their breathtaking scents.
Apart from their scented usage, it also has some therapeutic effects in herbal medicine.
For people suffering from insomnia, lavender incense is of great help.
Lavender incense is noted for its ability to calm and soothe the mind with its hypnotic and sedative effects .
The hypnotic and sedative effect links to the flower’s impact on our nervous system which produces such a relaxing feel.
Moreover, burning lavender incense is even better during meditation.
It allows you to relax, open your mind, and remove the stress by inhaling its scent.
The oil extracted from lavender, when taken at various doses, has a comparable effect to that of diazepam .
Things to Know Before Using an Incense
As you have seen, there are many beneficial effects of using an incense, but using a low-quality incense can be very harmful to the health.
A study published in 2011, found that burning incense generates a large number of lung carcinogens .
Another study showed that some incense sticks was more cytotoxic and genotoxic than the cigarette.
The toxicity is due to the carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide produced once burned, all of which are toxic or harmful to us.
Buying a non-toxic, high-quality incense can prevent the chances of causing air pollution and carcinogens producing substances.
However, the health benefits provided by some incense are true only for natural incense.
Using synthetic incense may contain harsh and dangerous chemicals that can elevate health problems, such as allergies or asthma.
For such cases, having indoor ventilation and circulation is crucial to avoid such problems when using an incense.
So if you enjoy the aroma, use aromatherapy as an alternative.
Incense provides an aroma that is soothing to the mind and soul, transforming mood from a stressful condition to relaxing, peaceful, and calmer mood.
However, burning incense sticks produces many residues that could enter your lungs and cause a respiratory problem.
Synthetic incenses are made to reduce the cost of large-scale manufacturing.
So, to avoid any problem and to be on the safe side, it is advisable to use natural incense that is free from such toxics.