Both Palo Santo and CBD are all the rage in spiritual and wellness communities worldwide. Both feel clean, healthy and like they do something good to us. Like they contain a magic secret that has the power to make us feel better, more relaxed and at ease. Today, let’s uncover that secret!
What is Palo Santo?
When we speak about Palo santo, we usually speak about palo santo wood. You know these little wooden sticks, that you see in your local health shop or on half the wellness sites on the internet? Yes, that’s right. This is palo santo
The name palo santo actually comes from the palo santo tree. A tree that grows in South and Central America. Meaning “holy wood” or “holy stick” or “sacred tree” in English.
It comes as no surprise that the Palo Santo tree is from the same family as both myrrh and frankincense when we see how it is used.
Traditionally, palo santo was and still is used in Shamanic rituals. From Ayahuasca to Kambo. Palo Santo is one of the foundational ritual elements used in traditional ceremonies of South America.
And as these rituals have become very popular in our modern Western society, also Palo Santo has made its way here.
Similarly to frankincense and myrrh in Christian culture, palo santo is used to cleanse the space from all negative spirits or energies and prepare it for the ceremony.
This is why the Palo Santo tree was always considered a holy tree where it grows.
The palo santo harvest actually follows a very special procedure. The trees are allowed to grow old. And then only the top branches of the tree are used for the wood. The wood once it is dead laid for 5-10 years until it used for burning or distilling. This is how long it takes for the resin-like oil to disperse through the wood.
The recent boost in exports of the palo santo woods into the whole world has, of course, caused ignorance of the previously held sacred guidelines. And with that exploitation of woods and deforestation of these precious trees in the rainforests. This makes it important to source from ecologically sustainable suppliers.
What does Palo Santo smell like?
Because Palo santo is part of the citrus family, it has a smell that is similar to lemon, mint, tea tree and eucalyptus. The palo santo smell is distinct. it is said to be antibacterial. Using it to smudge removes bacteria out of the air.
At the same time, it is a smell that seems familiar. Like something, we have known in our childhood.
How to use palo santo?
Most of the time, we encounter palo santo in the form of wood sticks. Neatly chopped up pieces of wood that you can easily hold in your hand while smudging your friends or your home. Or when you need to eliminate that bad BO in the club or bar you go to.
Burning palo santo is easy. Just hold the tip of the piece of wood into the flame of a lighter – or more conveniently: of a gas stove.
Wait until it catches fire, then let it burn just a little bit. Blow or shake out the fire and move the smoke to any person or object that you want to cleanse.
I love seeing those videos where one can see local people burn whole chunks of the wood and you see their whole body disappearing in the smoke! Hashtag Bucketlist 😝
This is how palo santo is used most of the time – by burning it.
A modern approach is to use pure essential oil. Add it to your diffuser or oil burner and enjoy the clean mist and oil particles in the air.
There is a difference in the smell of palo santo essential oil and palo santo that you burn.
And of course, there is something to say about the cleansing feeling that covering yourself in smoke brings.
But both options bring this cleansing and soothing effect. It seems like there is wellness. Within an instant.
Depending on the place and circumstance I use both options regularly.
I have a diffuser over my bed that I like to use before going to sleep. And when we go to a party, we have a little palo santo stick with us – ready to burn. It is so convenient.
An option that we see less often is to use the oil topically – in creams or soaps. Because palo santo has antibacterial effects, it is perfect to cleanse not just your energetic but also your physical body as well.
It is also used as an insect repellent or drunk as tea. Local people in Peru and Ecuador use it widely as natural incense and mosquito deterrent.
You see, it is very easy to include palo santo in a cleansing ritual. After all, this is how it has always been used.
Palo Santo vs. Sage
Sage and Palo santo have both been used in different indigenous cultures in order to cleanse a space. People often ask me: What is the difference and when to use one rather than the other.
Here I can only repeat what my boyfriend has shared with me:
Sage is like a spiritual sterilizer or bleach. When you use it, it removes everything. On an energetic level what he meant was – everything, the good and the bad. It leaves the space empty, so you need to fill it up with something else. Maybe with some incense that you like.
Palo Santo is more gentle. In the traditional cultures that it originates from, they say that it removes “bad energy”. Only the bad energy. It leaves you with a soothed, calm, content feeling.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol, which is one of the more than 100 different Cannabinoids present in cannabis. Don’t confuse it with THC, which is a psychoactive cannabinoid.
When mixed with carrier oils like hemp or coconut we get CBD oil.
This oil is generally consumed in form of an alcoholic tincture, capsules or topical through creams.
Because of its reputation to have immense health benefits – from alleviating pain over relaxation, stress and anxiety relief to helping in Cancer Treatment and with Autoimmune Diseases, CBD has entered Health Shops in wellness hubs around the world.
Which is why today you can find it in all kinds of foods and drinks – from Smoothies to Chocolates and Coffee.
What brings Palo Santo and CBD together?
What brings both Palo Santo and CBD together are terpenes. And actually not just palo santo and Cannabis or hemp. But rather, terpenes are present in almost every plant and insect on the planet.
So this might not sound very exciting. If terpenes are present everywhere, why point out a connection?
The reason is that there are more than 200.000 terpenes on the planet, of which cannabis produces between 100 to 200, depending on the source.
What we are going to look at is the type of terpenes present in both plants and what effect they have on the human body.
So what are terpenes?
Terpenes are components that are part of the essential oils. Because they evaporate easily, we can smell them. This means that they interact with our brain and nervous system and that causes us to notice and respond to the smell. They are a big reason why aromatherapy exists.
Depending on whether we categorize a terpene as Sativa or Indica, they create a response that is stimulating or soothing.
The major constituents of Palo Santo are Limonene to almost 60%, Alpha terpineol 11% and Menthofuran 7% (Numbers rounded)
We can find the following terpenes in Cannabis: Pinene, Myrcene, Limonene, Humulene, Linalool, Caryophyllene, Terpinolene.
Depending on the processing methods, we can or can’t find terpenes in CBD Oil. But even if you remove terpenes, if you mix the CBD with carrier oils like hemp, this reintroduces them and we can reap their benefits.
“Terpenes have their own effects apart from their relationship with cannabinoids, including inhibiting serotonin uptake and enhancing norepinephrine activity (acting as antidepressants), increasing dopamine (regulating emotions and pleasure experiences), and augmenting GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter associated with relaxing effects)”
We can see that in both Palo Santo and Cannabis there are high concentrations of Limonene.
Scientists and Chemists connect Limonene to anxiety treatment and stress reduction while they say it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It elevates our mood and helps us absorb other terpenes through our skin.
All of which are benefits associated with palo santo and CBD.
Does this explain to us the effects that palo santo and CBD have on us?
Could we just start sniffing lemons to have a similar effect?
However what is important to note is that we can never look at one component of a plant in an isolated way. “The entourage effect” describes that the combination of all components present in a plant will cause a different effect rather than every single component.
In other words. The sum is greater than its parts.
Terpenes not only have effects on our mood and energy levels but also come with medical benefits.
The Benefits of Palo Santo
Palo Santo’s benefits are more than just soothing and cleansing.
As said, it is antibacterial but it is also anti-cancer. It fights off inflammation and infection and supports our immune system.
If you are looking for more uses of palo santo check Dr.Axe here.
What I find interesting is that we see very similar benefits in both Palo Santo and CBD.
And both are trending massively in our society.
What does that tell us about us? We are looking for relaxation and wellbeing.
For ways to be more content in our own skin and for ways to deal with the stressors that we daily encounter.
As humanity, we are constantly looking for new ways to live a better and more easeful life.
It seems like this is our sole drive.
Understanding this nature and drive that we as human beings have, can allow us to concentrate our efforts more easily on the things that we see can bring benefit to the world.
Whether this means a new discovery, a new product or just a new way of being and relating to each other.
I am very lucky to basically live in a palo santo storage facility/temple. My boyfriend’s business is selling Palo Santo and Natural Incense amongst other things.
So even while myself I would have never thought to use Palo santo to great extent, it is used on a daily basis.
Because of that, I have been able to make my own “Palo santo review”. I have come to experience for myself the cleansing and soothing while energizing properties of this refreshing smell.
I can also confirm that Milo’s temple suppliers ensure sustainable harvest of the Palo Santo, in conjunction with the local communities and Ecuadorian government, employing local people.
If you look for Palo Santo UK, Milo’s temple is the one.
I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to use the high-quality essential oils to create very special Palo Santo scented Handsoaps.
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