Incense therapeutic properties and benefits
Incense is the secreted product, oleoresin, from various plants that grow in the Arabian Peninsula and in the Horn of Africa; the bark is incised and the yellowish resin is collected. The tradition indicates a very specific type of resin, that of the Olibano , the Boswellia Sacra , but there are several varieties ( B. Serrata, Frereana, Carteri, Papyrifera …) which, after drying, in ancient times, was burned in the braziers. The resin is selected in different qualities, depending on the purity, color and size of the grains, but also on the environment in which the plants grow.
Today the incense is identified with the sticks, which are burned, produce aroma and which, in addition to resins, use aromatic woods, leaves, flowers and berries. Myrrh is the resin obtained from Commiphora Mirra,but sandalwood, artemisia leaves or juniper berries, cardamom, or roots such as assafetida are also used.
Incense in tradition and use today
In the history of many populations there is evidence of the use of bark and fragrant woods, in religious ceremonies in temples to ingratiate the gods, but also in homes, in religious ceremonies, the smoke that rose towards the sky put in contact with the Hereafter .In the Bible and in the Quran there are references to its use as well as in many ancient cultures.
The testimonies tell us of their use in Ayurvedic medicine, among the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the American Indians and let us not forget the Incense Way, it was traded with spices and cities, on the caravan routes for the importance of flourishing trade. In ancient Egypt, a form of Kajal was prepared which combined with antiseptic qualities that prevent eye infections. .
The incense is burned in Christian ceremonies, in churches, and was one of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus of Nazareth which, since ancient times, recalls the sacred ; the fumigation (use of fumes) of the resin, also linked to the cult of the Israelites, evokes introspection, mysticism, prayer, meditation and the encounter with the Divine.
The resin of Boswellia (incense / olibanum) was used to purify the environments, this is one of the reasons for its use in the churches, but also in funeral ceremonies, the spiritual forces released accompanied the soul of the deceased in the world of the dead.
Today, as then, incense is used in Ayurvedic medicine for the preparation of ointments against sores and skin eruptions, in yoga, to promote meditation, in aromatherapy, to purify environments and for lung diseases as an antiseptic; in the West, in addition to its use in religious ceremonies, it is used in the pharmaceutical and perfume industry.
The incense fumigation is present in Traditional Chinese Medicine(moxa), in the Indian one, in almost all the spiritual and medical practices of the Eastern world and at the African and South American Shamans. From the inhalation of the released fragrance and the observation of the smoke produced, emotions and thoughts are abandoned to enter the most interior spiritual world, made of peace and encounter with the divine.
Symbolism of fumigation and use of incense
The symbolic value of incense is closely linked to purification and fumigation . Purification and fumigation in turn recall fire. Purification is inherent in creating an internal and external environment that favors a state of grace, that is the possibility of turning to the highest component of our human being, the Spirit, and entering into relationship with the universal Divine Spirit.
The Spirit, this component of Fire of our being, is specific to man, it is what differentiates it from other living forms.
For this manifestation of the spiritual presence to become possible, the corruptible aspects of the material world and of the emotional sphere, those that drag existence downwards and towards a state of disorder, agitation, conflict, mortality, or negative forces, must be away.
Fumigation is the only means that allows this internal and external purification; a burning that promotes an ascent to the sky, an elevation above the temporality and contingency of existence, a coming into contact with a universal dimension that exceeds both our attachment to the individual dimension and the temporal scanning of existence, a time that stops.
Not every burning substance produces this state. The only one to which this quality is recognized is the resin of Olibano, it is the resin that must be placed in the censer and not the essential oil. It can be accompanied by other plants that participate in the same purifying quality, to strengthen its action.
For this we find the incense present above all in religious rites, or otherwise used to promote the return to health, in the tradition of many populations. The state of health for man is a state where the visible and invisible negativities are removed and where his spiritual component finds its place of guidance for our existence.
What it contains and what are the properties of incense
The resin is composed mostly of polysaccharides and pentamyclic Boswellic acids which are responsible for the perfume.
Its anti-inflammatory properties are validated by some German studies that have shown that boswellic acids (of the Papyrifera variety) are able to block an enzyme, responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandin E2, directly involved in inflammatory processes.
Incense is antiseptic , antibacterial , antiviral and keeps insects away.
How to use incense and practical use
In the tradition together with the incense other ingredients were mixed, mixed and reduced to dust. Today, incense burners are used, sold in specialty stores or herbalist shops, in which one or more charcoals are lit on which incense is placed. Alternatively, you can use a small pan with sand on the bottom because ceramic or glass plates could break.