Palo Santo – I Tried to Like You But I Didn’t, Sorry


Post by Suzanne R Banks


Palo Santo – I Tried to Like You But I Didn’t, Sorry

Palo Santo Bursera_graveolens WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

About this time last year, Palo Santo popped into my world. Within a week or two, a friend had asked about it and one of my readers here on the blog also mentioned it in one of her blends. I’d never used it nor had I really heard much about this oil. So my interest was sparked and I did a bit of research to find –

* it belongs to the Family “Burseraceae” of which frankincense and myrrh also belong, and it definitely shows in its form and the fact that it’s a desert dwelling tree and looks just like a frankincense or myrrh tree

* according to Wikipedia the Burseraceae family has also been called the incense tree family

* its sort of like the South American sandalwood, as the scented wood is used to make incense and of course essential oil

* it is used in the Americas more than in Europe or Asia

* it has been used for healing in communities in South American countries for many years and has a strong place in their folklore too

* spiritual and healing ceremonies often used the smoke of the burning wood to purify bad or stagnating energy (similar to indigenous Australians using tea tree branches, and Native American Indians using sage for smudging)

* my friend who studied in Thailand was told it was good for increasing sexual drive and raising kundalini

It is widely used in folk medicine for stomach ache, as sudorific, and as liniment for rheumatism. Aged heartwood is rich in terpenes such as limonene and α-terpineol.” Wikipedia

As it is very high in limonene one would expect a lemon scent (if only slightly), but the mix of molecules makes for a very deep, earthy, heady scent indeed!

I bought a couple of bottles from a small environmentally focused company in Ecuador and I was feeling very international and slightly self-important when I placed the order. I was excited to receive and smell this intriguing oil of history and healing in many South American cultures including Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, and on the Galapagos islands.

Then it arrived. It probably didn’t help that I was unwell at the time. I ripped open the bag to find a cute little wooden box. Opened the box, cracked the lid, took a huge whiff and almost vomited. It has an earthy, rich, almost truffle scent, which is pungent and warm.

I could end the story right there, but I put it away in the oil cupboard until my friend dropped in for a blend. A week or two later she came by to collect her bottle of oil (she had actually experienced this oil in a yoga teacher training place in Thailand!)

Palo Santo Lahu Village Palo Santo  Lahu Village Steven Belcher FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

She was excited. I wasn’t.

I made her oil blend and put 6 drops of Palo Santo in 150mls with a few other oils. Months later she reported that her body oil blend was beautiful, but now I’m scarred for life!

The weather is warming up and I’ve started to smell the Palo Santo wafting from my studio. It has managed to penetrate the triple bubble wrapping.


Use with caution!

Any comments on this interesting oil are welcomed.

Suzanne R Banks XXX

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5 thoughts on “Palo Santo – I Tried to Like You But I Didn’t, Sorry

  1. Thanks for this story-I bought some oil from a few places last year and got various smells, including one being quite minty! I was kind of disappointed as I spent 6 months in South America some time back and through Ecuador and Peru they burnt the wood everywhere and it was thee most incredible smell!!! I will never forget-and
    will keep searching for it. Have you access to some of the woodchips? I highly recommend trying.

    Thanks again, Ainslie


  2. Hello Suzanne,
    I tried Palo Santo oil earlier this year and loved it. I sampled it at a friend’s home and have no idea where her bottle came from. As I remember what I tried was woody and and earthy drying to something extremely sweet. I have been meaning to ask here where she got her Palo Santo oil. From Dollymixturita’s comment (thank you Dolly M) it looks like there can be a lot of difference depending on supplier. Another great post, Suzanne!
    Azar xx


  3. I’ve never smelled the stuff but not everything works for everyone. There are perfumes that people like that I find traumatizing. It’s so strange how you can smell the same thing and have a completely response to it. Sounds like you’re going to have to put another layer of bubble wrap over it.


  4. only within the Ayurvedic Blends from Floracopeia. i was initially so sensory overloading… and then completely addicting.

    a Native American Medicine Woman friend says it’s like any indigenous medicine… at one time, it was used against YOU… and then she laughs and says get over it, but to remember this is powerful stuff- physically and energetically.


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