The Palo Santo could be one of the most mystical trees in the Amazon region. Botanically known as Bursera graveolens, this marvelous tree contributes to one of the cultural pillars of the Mexican people. It is originally found in e South America, mostly the Gran Chaco region. Fascinating enough, its name Palo Santo, means ‘holy wood’ in Spanish. It is a botanical treasure to the inhabitants of these regions as it posses both ethnobotanical and spiritual uses. It has also gained popularity in the modern world.
Spiritually, it is believed to clear of misfortunes, bad energies and driving off evil spirits. Its charcoal obtained from burning its sticks is used to make the Palo Santo smudge. The smudge is used in rituals. These rituals are done to clear or clean the energy of a person’s physical space, objects or surroundings. The Palo Santo is also burnt to perform these rituals. It gives off an aroma of mint, lemon, and pine. There are steps that are followed when burning the flints. These steps are:
- Hold your flint at 45° with your fire source.
- Let it ignite and burn for some, precisely 30 seconds to one minute.
- Gently blow away the flame and leave the embers burning.
- Move around in your surrounding in a clockwise manner while holding your smoldering flint and let the smoke infiltrate into your space.
The smoke clears your thoughts allowing you to be more relaxed and uplifts your spirit. It can also be one to clear your mind in preparation for meditation. It was also believed to infuse blessings, bring protection against evil spirits, inspiring creativity among other spiritual beliefs.
Medically, its essential oil is used to cure flu, headaches, relieve stress, cure inflammation and much more. It was also used to cure rheumatism and manage stomach problems. Its therapeutic properties are used to relieve stress and emotional trauma. When applied to the body, it relaxes tensed up muscles and can be used during massages. This is similar to aromatherapy. The oil also contains its sweet scents. The oil and flints used can only be obtained from naturally fallen branches and trees and has stayed dead for three to four years to acquire maturity.
The tree wood is used for culinary purposes. It is also used as a food additive to add flavour. Tea prepared with the tree’s extract is used as a natural contraceptive.
The tree is distinguishable and cannot be confused with other spices. It has bright green leaves present during the rainy season and has a whitish-grey bark. It grows no more than twenty meters, therefore, it’s a half-height plant. Its fruit is not used.
Due to its importance, the tree is an endangered species. The governments in the home countries are working on preserving its existence. Though traditionally it was only used when dead, commercial companies are lumbering it for sale. Therefore the governments have formulated conservation policies and there is reforestation taking place to maintain the aromatic tree existence.