Today, palo santo trees are widely grown and collected so their wood can be used to produce bottled essential oil using steam distillation. Aside from its mental health applications, palo santo offers promising benefits when it comes to raising immunity and fighting illness.
As a rich supply of antioxidants and phytochemicals called terpenes, including limonene and α-terpineol, concentrated palo santo oil is effective for fighting free radical damage (also called oxidative stress), relieving stomach aches, fighting stress, reducing pains due to arthritis and healing many other conditions. Particularly, it’s been gaining attention for being a natural cancer treatment for inflammatory diseases.
An analysis of steam-distilled palo santo oil (using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) showed that the major active constituents include: limonene (89.33 percent), α-terpineol (11 percent), menthofuran (6.6 percent) and carvone (2 percent). Other beneficial compounds in smaller quantities include germacrene D, muurolene and pulegone.
Palo santo essential oil benefits include:
Relieving muscular pains
Stimulating the immune system
Supporting a healthy nervous system
The valuable fruit of the B. graveolens tree is a small black seed covered by a red pulp that’s contained in a green capsule. The two halves of the capsule fall off when the fruit is ripe, leaving behind the fruit that’s rich in lipids (fats), which are then concentrated and used therapeutically.
The fruit emits an odor similar to fennel (anise) that’s slightly sweet, which is one reason why people like to diffuse the smell of palo santo throughout their homes or use it in natural cleansing products. The tree is also related to the citrus family and has a somewhat similar sweet note of “clean” smelling pine, mint and lemon. Because they’re related and have similar emotionally stabilizing benefits, you can use palo santo as a substitute for more-popular frankincense oil or myrrh oil.
8 Palo Santo Essential Oil Uses
1. Detoxifier and Immune Enhancer
Palo santo helps support the immune system and turns off inflammatory responses from things like a poor diet, pollution, stress and illness. Try using several drops of pure palo santo oil as a detoxification agent by combining it with hot water (not boiling) and drinking it as an herbal tea. It’s great for calming the nervous system and to recover faster from illness, chronic fatigue syndrome or emotional pain.
2. De-Stressor and Relaxant
Considered an oil that’s grounding and centering, both palo santo and frankincense oils are used for emotional and spiritual support since they work like natural anxiety remedies. Once inhaled, palo santo travels directly through the olfactory system (which controls our sense of smell) of the brain, where it helps turn on the body’s relaxation responses and reduces panic, anxiety and insomnia.
You can apply several drops mixed with a carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba oil) to your head, neck, chest or spine to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily. You can also combine palo santo with lavender oil, bergamot oil or frankincense oil for additional relaxation benefits.
3. Headache Treatment
Known to combat migraines and even stress-related headaches or bad moods, palo santo helps to lower inflammation and increase blood flow that can help turn off perceived pain. For a natural headache remedy and instant relief, dilute a few drops in water and dissolve the vapors with a diffuser whenever a headache strikes. Or try rubbing some palo santo mixed with coconut oil onto your temples and neck.
4. Cold or Flu Treatment
Palo santo is known to fight infections and viruses that can leave you with a cold or the flu. By improving blood circulation and recharging your energy levels, it can help you feel better faster and stop severity of feelings of dizziness, congestion and nausea. Apply a few drops on the chest at heart level or add some to your shower or bath to beat a cold or flu.
5. Joint and Muscle Pain Reducer
As a great way to naturally lower pain from arthritis, injuries, chronic neck or back pain, and sore muscles, apply several drops with a carrier oil three times a day directly on the point of pain. For a natural remedy for muscle, bone and joint pain, try massaging the oil mixture into the skin until the oil is absorbed or sitting in a soaking bath with palo santo and Epsom salts.
6. Bug/Mosquito Repellent
Historically, palo santo wood chips or sticks were used as incense to keep off mosquitoes. If you can find wood chips, sticks or cones, burn one or two in an incense burner for about 20 or 25 minutes. You can also use palo santo essential oil in the same way or combine it with water and spray it directly onto your skin or clothes.
7. Allergy Reducer
Because it lowers inflammation and the body’s response to histamines, palo santo has benefits for fighting seasonal allergy symptoms, digestive issues and asthma-related symptoms. Try taking it as a dietary supplement for natural allergy relief (only recommended when using a therapeutic-grade oil) or inhale it from the bottle several times daily.
8. Household Cleaner
Similar to clary sage and cedarwood essential oils, palo santo has a cleansing effect that can help reduce odors, bacteria and viruses within your home. Palo santo woodchip incense or essential oil can also be used to clean the air and surfaces in your home and prevent illnesses, contamination or even “bad energy.” Purify your kitchen, bathroom or appliances by diffusing the oil or running it through your household appliances.