Palo Santo: Benefits and Properties of a Sacred Wood

Palo Santo is a sacred wood species for many peoples who have remained close to the traditions of their elders.

Traditionally used for healing, purification or energetic cleansing, the properties of palo santo go far beyond what you might think. (Don't worry, a significant part of this article will aim to describe its many virtues to you.)

With the growing circulation of information, this sacred wood which was initially only known to a few adepts and shamans living in South America quickly became a flagship product of apothecaries and herbalists around the world.

This is so true that palo santo incense is one of the most sought after today. The bark of its wood has generated such a market that the authorities of the countries concerned have had to take measures to protect the species.

Truly, the uses of palo santo wood are numerous and have been recognized for millennia by traditional healers who use it to treat ailments of the body and mind.

Contents :

History of palo santo

Where does this name “holy wood” come from?

The benefits of palo santo (the 9 best)

The place of this wood essence in meditation

And so ? How to use palo santo?

Palo Santo wood, a sun-shaped necklace from the Amazon tribes and Brazilian friendship bracelets

The power of the jungle

by Brazil, its symbols and its shamanism


History of palo santo

Maybe you've heard of palo santo before reading this.

Maybe you or someone close to you have already used it!

Pieces of palo santo such as these are found more and more often on herbalists and other therapists practicing alternative medicine.

With its characteristic woody scent and its powerful effects, this would in no case be surprising…

But basically, what do you know about its history?

Do you have any idea to what extent this plant essence could have been revered by some of the greatest pre-Columbian civilizations, such as the Incas or the Quechuas?

For centuries in fact (millennia if we count the fact that the ancestors were already using it), palo santo wood was used during rituals and religious ceremonies throughout the Amazon as well as a good part of the Andes Cordillera.

If you ask the healers and shamans of South America, they will tell you that the powers of palo santo stem from the presence of a special spirit within it.

According to their animist principles, everything has a unique spirit. The particularity of our sacred wood would in fact consist in its capacity (if it is treated correctly) to retain this spirit in itself after the death of the tree. A stick of palo santo would thus contain in some way a part of the essence of the natural world and the great Amazonian forest.

We therefore easily understand why it could be used to practice purifications , rebalancing and energetic healing for millennia now.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived on the continent during the 16th and 17th centuries, they too fell under the spell of its powerful aroma. Without giving it the same religious and sacred meaning, they nevertheless used it to attract luck, chase away the evil eye and cure certain afflictions.

It is undoubtedly for this historical reason that our wood is considered a symbol by many indigenous peoples who still live in Brazil today. If you are interested in the cultures of this region of the world, here is an entire collection dedicated to the country and its various facets.

In short, even if from an external point of view, the tree used to produce palo santo is not exceptional in itself, what it hides within it has simply extraordinary powers.

Burnt palo santo stick producing dense smoke.

Where does this name “holy wood” come from?

At the beginning of this article, we talked to you about how palo santo could be considered a sacred wood species.

This goes much further than you might think (unless you speak Spanish fluently): in fact, “palo santo” literally translates as “sacred wood”, “holy wood” or sometimes also as “the wood of the saints”. ».

Even if the Spanish colonists did not grant the same religious place to our wood, there is no doubt that they too had detected something very spiritual in it.

There are in fact several theories regarding this evocative name.

The first, and undoubtedly the least magical, explains to us that incense was complicated to transport to America. As the New World did not produce it, the colonists had to find an alternative substance to use during their masses and celebrations. Inspired by the practices of the natives, they then began to use palo santo.

Another, more poetic, tells how a group of conquistadors got lost one day in the dense jungle of the Amazon. After several days of walking and difficult survival, they lost all hope and set up their last camp, thinking that they would die in the forest.

What they didn't know was that to light their fire, they had used palo santo wood... When they woke up, one of the men suggested going north, claiming that he had saw in a dream an angel advising him in this direction. The other adventurers immediately jumped: they too had the same vision.

After only five minutes of walking, they arrived on a beach and saw an Allied boat to which they waved.

From that day on, the wood they used was called “wood of the saints,” or palo santo.

Bundles of natural sage, copal wood and herbal plant resin

Receive amazing benefits

thanks to the secrets of plants and alchemy


The benefits of palo santo (the 9 best)

Whether we give it a religious meaning, it remains undeniable that the properties and benefits of palo santo are very real.

Whether it's chasing away negativity, attracting positivity, having more luck or establishing a purifying atmosphere, we can find uses that will suit every situation. Shamans from ancient times (but also those more contemporary) have traditionally used it for this type of ability.

On a more down-to-earth level, palo santo wood can also heal the body and relieve certain types of ailments. Problems of stress, lack of energy, immunity or gloom: this type of essence could well help you.

Yes, if you are interested in medicinal plants, herbs and natural substances capable of healing, you have come to the right place. To dig deeper into the subject, here are various alchemy and herbalism ingredients that we have collected for you.

In short, we will describe all this in more detail without further delay through the 9 greatest benefits of palo santo!

1) It relieves stress and promotes positivity

More and more of us in our modern society have to manage simply gigantic levels of stress and anxiety. Depression, burn-out, nervous breakdowns: the consequences can also be very significant.

Fortunately for us, nature offers us many ways to manage our stress and, as you can imagine, palo santo is one of them.

With its soothing scent with woody and earthy touches, its smoke will bring a soothing atmosphere where it will be burned.

More than a simple perfume, our essence apparently has real properties that act on our mental anxiety and our nervous system in general.

Even if it is not the best way to get rid of stress in the long term, palo santo wood can in any case help us to relax for a few moments.

2) An ally against winter illnesses…

The people inhabiting South America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus did not face the same diseases as Europeans.

However, they knew several mild ailments similar to colds and flus for example, which they sometimes treated with palo santo.

Even if the effects are not really confirmed by recent scientific studies, many therapists around the world include it in their range of possible actions against winter illnesses of this type.

Burning palo santo incense sticks could heal us... or, failing that, create a pleasant ambient scent!

3) …and in particular against headaches

Where, on the other hand, the effects of palo santo are already more recognized, is in the fight against migraines.

Among its components are in fact certain substances capable of reducing inflammatory conditions in the body and, ultimately, increasing general blood circulation.

When we know that poor circulation is one of the main causes of headaches, the connection becomes clear.

As with the previous point, serious pain should not be neglected, and nothing beats the advice of your trusted doctor.

4) Very present spiritual powers

Here, we are talking about “spiritual powers” ​​in the first sense of the term, namely “powers linked to spirits”.

Thus, certain disorders linked to the supernatural or the sacred can find a remedy through the virtues of palo santo.

It is undoubtedly in this context that today's shamans shine the most, and that our species of wood will stand out best from other medicinal plants.

As we said, this stems from the ability of holy wood to preserve the spirit of its tree even after being separated from it.

Truly, from a spiritual point of view, it can really be powerful.

5) The energetic effects of palo santo

While many types of incense will only be used for rest and relaxation, others can bring more energy and vitality to the places where they are burned. Palo Santo incense is part of this second category.

Be careful, what we said previously about its stress and anxiety reducing abilities still holds and, when we think about it, does not come into conflict with its energizing virtues.

Why after all should vitality come into opposition with well-being? This doesn't make sense...

Thus, the essence of palo santo will bring a kind of Zen energy to the rooms where it will be burned. Many people use it during their work sessions to increase their ability to concentrate and their productivity.

Some have also reported effects on their mental clarity and emotional stability.

6) Pain reduction

We mentioned it in the paragraph dedicated to migraines but, yes, palo santo also has the ability to reduce certain types of pain.

This virtue has apparently been known for a very long time, as evidenced by the oral tradition of many indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

Many types of alternative or alternative medicine have made a place for palo santo in their range of remedies. Aromatherapy therefore recommends diffusing a few drops of its essential oil to facilitate the disappearance of tension.

Some athletes for their part use it to reduce the pain of aches and pains linked to training.

If the question of pain management concerns you, here are some tips from the site on the subject.

In short, according to many experts, this type of wood has an effect on reducing pain in general. Here again, however, nothing can replace a visit to the doctor in case of severe pain.

7) Stress, free radicals and the immune system

We have discussed the virtues of palo santo in terms of “mental” stress… but what about physical stress, that which the cells of our body undergo every day?

The phenomenon of cellular stress basically consists of attacks suffered by the molecules that make up our cells by others known as “free radicals”.

Without going into too much detail, these free radicals are naturally present in living organisms, but their number and the impacts they will have will largely depend on our good world.

However, it seems that the use of palo santo helps reduce the impact of these famous free radicals. Again, studies are mixed on the issue and our main indicator is the millennia-old tradition of the ancestral peoples of America.

In short, this action would notably, among its many benefits, improve our health in general and strengthen our immune capacities.

8) It is a very powerful air freshener

Most people who are not familiar with the spiritual properties of palo santo still appreciate it for its woody scent.

Here again, if we dig into the subject, we can discover astonishing effects. Our essence makes it possible to purify the places where it will be consumed.

Please note, we are not talking here about energetic purification, but rather about very concrete “physical” purification of the air.

The next time you want to clean the air in your home, consider a natural solution of this type rather than chemicals that are themselves potentially dangerous.

If you opt for palo santo, however, you will need to ensure that your room is ventilated. As with any burned substance, you should not allow too dense smoke to clog your house.

9) Insects avoid it like the plague

This may seem a little trivial compared to the other benefits that we have just discovered together, but the fact is that palo santo wood is a powerful repellent capable of repelling certain pests.

Mosquitoes, flies or wasps: they all hate its smoke, which will protect you from bites and other inconveniences. Sometimes also, essential oils extracted from this wood can work wonders.

Some herbalists offer decoctions to apply to the skin containing palo santo (in the form of essential oil or powder for example) to protect our skin from insects.

When we see the danger of the awesome critters that live in the tropical jungles, we easily understand how useful this virtue could have been.

There are actually many natural insect repellents that allow you to avoid using chemicals that are dangerous to the environment. Here are some pretty interesting ones.

Several energy medicine stones, a soothing singing bowl and incense conducive to meditation

Calm down, relax

thanks to meditation and its tools


The place of this wood essence in meditation

This seems obvious given the properties that have just been highlighted but, yes, palo santo is a central ingredient in a whole bunch of rituals linked to meditative practices.

Many yoga schools, for example, decide to burn a little at the start of sessions to help their students relax. In addition to its fragrance and aromatic qualities, it is the spiritual effects that are sought after.

It's no secret: an atmosphere free of negative energies is an almost necessary condition for achieving certain states of modified consciousness. As we can discover in this article linking yoga and aromatology, many plants and essences can be used. For us, it’s the palo santo that interests us.

More broadly, the calm energy that palo santo wood carries is ideal for group spiritual practices where exchanges and communication between participants are central.

If you are more of a solitary type, again our saints' wood may be useful to you, particularly to purify the room where you practice.

If you're not a fan of meditations, that's no problem either: as we said, many people use them simply to enhance their concentration and attention when working. This will be all the more relevant during tasks requiring creativity and imagination.

You can obviously use palo santo to perfume your rooms with the scent of its smoke... but, as you will have understood, this would be missing out on its main benefits.

Last little tip: the effects (just like the smell) of palo santo will blend wonderfully with those of cedar, lavender and vanilla!

Example of using pieces of palo santo by smearing.

And so ? How to use palo santo?

The palo santo that you find in stores will basically come in four different forms:

  • wood (obviously)
  • oil
  • tea
  • and resin (often presented in the form of incense).

There are other forms as well, but these four are really the most common.

The oil (in reality, it will be essential oil), will be used like any other aromatherapy product. For more information on doses and ways of using them (cutaneous, oral, or respiratory), you should contact a competent therapist. For more information, here are a few words of explanation about aromatherapy.

Palo Santo incense will be used like any type of incense and will simply be lit, then burn itself to release its properties in its smoke. However, care must be taken here to ventilate the room where the incense will be burned.

Smudging (a traditional term describing the lighting of wood or plants to remove smoke) requires a little more explanation.

First, you will need to hold a piece of wood (usually in the shape of a small stick) upside down.

Then light it and let it burn with a small flame for about a minute. Of course, the flame should not be too strong.

Then shake it slowly (you should not blow directly on it) until it goes out, and place your piece of palo santo on a surface that is not likely to catch fire.

There is little risk here if you choose this surface wisely, but you will still need to take the necessary precautions to avoid any risk of fire.

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.