Palo santo, which translates literally to “holy wood” in Spanish, is the harvested wood from palo santo trees which are found primarily in South America and in some regions of Central America. They're part of the citrus family, with a relation to frankincense and myrrh, explains Dr. Amy Chadwick, a naturopath at Four Moons Spa in California. It has a woody scent with hints of pine, lemon, and mint.

Shamans and healers, often known as Curanderos, traditionally used the energizing and healing properties of palo santo to purify air, dispel evil spirits, and cleanse negative energy. The wood has also long been used therapeutically to soothe cold and flu symptoms, depression, emotional pain, and other ailments. It's said that the uplifting aroma of palo santo is conducive to meditation and relaxation and that it both enhances creativity and brings good fortune.

 

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.

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  • 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.