Palo Santo Benefits

Palo Santo
Latin Name

Bursera graveolens

Also Known As

Holy Wood


Amazon, Equador, Peru

Parts Used

Wood of Tree

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Also known as “Holy Wood”, the Palo Santo tree is related to Frankincense, Copal and Myrrh. This mystical tree is native to South America, where it has been used for millennia by shamans in ceremonies, rituals and prayer.

The South American equivalent of Sage, Palo Santo is used by the indigenous people in smudging rituals to alleviate negative energy and offer protection. It is also used to facilitate meditation and raise one’s vibration.

On a more practical level, the smoke of Palo Santo is used to keep away mosquitos and other biting insects in Ecuador and Peru. Traditional medicinal uses include relieving cold and flu symptoms, anxiety, depression, asthma and headaches.

Palo Santo Benefits

Immune System Support

The main active ingredient in Palo Santo is limonene, a bio-active compound that helps to stimulate the immune system, fight inflammation and protect cell walls.

There have been plenty of studies verifying the effect of limonene on immune system health. In 2012, a study was published in the journal “Cell Immunology” that reported d-limonene possesses immunomodulatory activity. Another 2005 study published in “Immunopharmacology” journal also reported that d-limonene modulates immune response with significant potential for clinical application.


Palo Santo essential oil can be highly effective to combat stress and anxiety. It is rich in aromatic compounds such as A-terpinol, a terpene thought to be responsible for its warming and uplifting effects. Carvone is another active component of the essential oil, known for its ability to promote restful sleep by alleviating stress and nervous tension.

These aromatic compounds have a calming and soothing effect on the limbic system, a part of the brain that is responsible for emotion, motivation and memory. They have also been found to oxygenate the brain which helps to calm anxiety and lift depression.

Pain Relief

Palo Santo contains high amounts of D-limonene and monoterpenes that help to relieve pain. It is especially effective for aching joints, arthritis and headaches. The essential oil can be used to create a soothing massage oil for joints, or dabbed on the temples to alleviate headaches.

Insect Repellent

Traditionally used by the indigenous people of South America as an effective insect repellent, Palo Santo contains aromatic resins and volatile oils that repel mosquitos, midges, termites and many other biting insects.

Palo Santo sticks or incense can be burned to discourage insects from invading your space and the essential oil can be used to make a spray or body moisturiser to keep them from biting.

Spiritually Cleansing and Grounding

The indigenous people of the Andes have used Palo Santo for millennia to purify energy and dispel negativity. Its uplifting scent is believed to inspire creativity, brighten one’s energy and promote feelings of positivity and love.

Burning Palo Santo is thought to raise one’s vibration, allowing a deeper connection to the divine.

Typical Use

Palo Santo Incense Powder

Sprinkly a small amount of Palo Santo Incense onto a burning charcoal disk. Relax and enjoy.

Palo Santo Stick Incense

The Incense Stick must stand in a fire-proof incense burner with an area to catch the burnt remains. Light the end of the Incense Stick, wait until the tip glows brightly then gently blow or fan the flame out. 

Palo Santo Essential Oil

Can be used in the bath, or vaporized in an oil burner. It can be added to a massage oil or cream. Use 6-8 drops per bath and 10 -18 drops per 30ml of carrier oil. See Essential Oil Dosage Chart

Palo Santo Hydrolat

This gentle and soothing herbal water is ideal for use to refresh and cleanse the skin. With antibacterial qualities, it can also be used to disinfect wounds and to calm down itchy skin.

Folklore and History

Boasting a truly ancient history, the use of Palo Santo wood can be traced back to the time of the Incan Empire and to other ancient tribes of this region. Native to tropical dry forests of Ecuador, Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula in Peru, the healing properties of Palo Santo wood and oils achieved legendary status. The priests and shamans burned the wood to attract positive energies, keep away bad spirits and promote contact with benefactor gods.

Palo Santo must be harvested in a very particular way to ensure that it is of the highest quality. If the wood is harvested too soon it it will look lighter in colour, burn much faster, and contain fewer beneficial properties.  This special wood needs time for the natural aromatic oils to develop and mature. An ideal aging process involves a naturally fallen tree, aged a minimum of three to five years, and often up to 10 years. Over time, the wood becomes more oil dense, burns more slowly, is more fragrant, and the grain of the wood takes on a darker amber appearance.

Palo Santo

None known.