For some, it evokes only a heady scent of patchouli. It forgets that burning incense is a universal and millennial ritual. The West rediscovers its virtues and multiple varieties that provide energy or appeasement.
A little sand in a bowl. A wave drawing. A few pebbles and a stick … In the morning, Indian incense, rather strong to concentrate. In the evening, Tibetan incense, quasi-therapeutic. It burns before you arrive in the room and its fragrance calms you. Yes, this is the Frankincense, and it has many benefits.
Smoke that cures
For millennia, on all continents, men have done fumigations to honor their gods, increase their level of consciousness and heal themselves. Whether they were shamans in Asia or America, sorcerers in Africa or priests in Egypt, they had discovered that the smoke of some woods and plants could bring serenity, inner appeasement, which is the foundation of well-being. The word “health” comes from the Indian Shanti, which means inner peace.
The term “incense,” from the Latin incendere (burning), refers to the wood, plants, and gums that exude fragrances by consuming. But genuine incense, or olibanum, corresponds to the tree resins of the Boswellia family, which only grow in a few regions of Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Somalia.
When the incense is consumed, the odorous molecules, located just below the incandescent point, are stirred by heat and diffused without burning. Their path is rapid: when they arrive at the nasal cavity, they trigger a signal that the olfactory nerve will transmit directly to the limbic brain, the seat of our emotions. “This is what explains their effect on our feelings and our moods,” says Aromatherapist Suzanne Fischer-Rizzi, in her guide to incense (see “to read”). But they also act on our neuro-vegetative system and the regulation of our hormones.
Some incense possesses an antibacterial action, passing through the blood through the lungs. In ancient Egypt, Olibanum was used to treat pulmonary and hepatic diseases.
In India, in the street, even beggars have their sticks for their devotions. In Japan, we “listen” to incense with different scents depending on the season. And at home, as if one were unconsciously feeling its virtues, each one invents its rituals, revives in its way with ancient traditions. “I always take it when I travel,” says Pascale, 42 years old, journalist. I burn it even at the hotel, to rebuild my personal space. Beyond the religious or therapeutic gesture, incense remains a harmony that can be transported with oneself.
Safety: The 100% natural
The monthly that choose has regularly alerted on the incense called “traditional.” Alas, we find too many of these inexpensive bamboo sticks soaked in synthetic solvents and fragrances. It is contraindicated to burn them and they have incense only the name.
Select Natural Incense: The woods and resins should all be, the flowers make more use of the synthesis. The words “100% natural” appear on the packaging.
Japanese incense – to the powder holder of a sticky wood, the Tabu – exude much less smoke than Indian pasta mounted on bamboo sticks.
Indian incense, in a country where we live a lot outside and where incense is consumed in the street, often contain insecticides. In an apartment, two precautions: ventilate during fumigation and avoid those whose quality you do not know.
What incense for what moment?
- To purify the house: Olibanum, Myrrh, Benzoin, Sage.
- To soothe benzoin, sandalwood, and cinnamon.
- For better sleep: sandalwood, cinnamon and agar wood.
- To meditate: Olibanum, mastic, cedar, sandalwood, Myrtle, the wood of agar.