Medical aromatherapy dates back several thousand years to Egypt, China and India, where plant essences and resins were more valuable than gold. Modern essential oil use, mostly passed down through European scholars and scientists of the Middle Ages, depends on traditional European herbs and familiar spices. But new discoveries in South America are beginning to enter the roster of essential oils used in physical healing and spiritual practices. One of the first and most popular of these is Palo Santo oil, Bursera graveolens.
Where is Palo Santo Found?
Bursera graveolens is native to much of Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as well as Colombia, Ecuador, the Galapagos, and Peru.
In Ecuador, where much (if not all) of the essential oil is being produced, palo santo trees are protected and it is illegal to cut the trees down or harvest the branches. The oil is distilled from deadfall and the remains of dead trees, and even this requires special permits.
Chemical Properties of Palo Santo Essential Oil
Analysis show that Palo Santo oil contains high levels of limonene, a monoterpene compound that has been found to have chemo-preventive and chemo-therapeutic effects against several types of cancer. It is also rich in sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes and alpha-pinene.
Studies have shown that limonene has anti-cancer effects. Limonene increases the levels of liver enzymes involved in detoxifying carcinogens. The Glutathione S-transferase (GST) is a system which eliminates carcinogens. Limonene seems to promote the GST system in the liver and small bowel, thereby decreasing the damaging effects of carcinogens. Animal studies demonstrated that dietary limonene reduced mammary tumor growth.
Using aromatherapy oils on a regular basis can help to strengthen and support your immune system. Something as simple as applying a few drops of oil to a handkerchief and carrying it with you can help to calm you down, sooth your stress, and generally give you a bit of support and resolve to get through whatever stressful situation you may find yourself facing.
Fibromyalgia is believed to be stress-related, so you can help keep the atmosphere calm, stress-free and peaceful at work and home by placing around your office or home a dish of essential oil scented wooden balls.
At the end of a really stressful day at work, taking a relaxing bath with the addition of essential oils can go a long way to help relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia, relieving stress, chilling you out and winding you down for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The use of a vaporiser or oil burner can be very beneficial, infusing the air with a large dose of soothing and calming essential oils than using scented wooden balls alone. Please exercise great care when using an oil burner because of the obvious fire risks associated with the use of candles.
A Caution About the Quality of Essential Oils
The heat, speed, and ingredients used in processing make for very different qualities of oil, ranging from perfume grade to medicinal “therapeutic-grade” oils. Even oils marketed as therapeutic-grade may have other ingredients added that are not always disclosed on the labels. Please be extremely cautious in selecting any oils that will be used on the skin or internally.