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Palo Santo Essential Oil, Bursera Graveolens - Uses and Benefits

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Palo Santo Bursera graveolens, known in Spanish as palo santo ("sacred wood") is a tree that inhabits the dry forest Ecuador. The tree belongs to the same family (Burseraceae) as frankincense and myrrh. It is widely used in folk medicine. Palo santo is rich in terpenes such as limonene and α-terpineol. The Palo Santo, which was used by shamans to cure many diseases, and for this reason the Spanish called it "Santo".

Although Palo Santo has just recently become an essential oil of interest it has been used for many years. The Incas used it as a remedy for spiritual cleansing and purifying. The Shamans used it in ceremonies to dispel bad spirits, clear bad energy and to cure various diseases. Palo Santo essential oil is significantly anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With such a high limonene content that is not found in other trees. Palo Santo is helpful in cases of skin infection and acne.

The tree has a life time of approximately 30 to 40 years and then dies. We only process wood that has been found dead naturally in the forest, as in order to retain its special properties,  the palo Santo tree must die on its own and remain in the ground for 2 to 4 years before being processed.

  • Botanical Name: Bursera Graveolens
  • Family: Bursereace
  • Part used: Wood
  • Collection: From June to January
  • Warnings: None
  • Common Method of Extraction: Steam Distilled
  • Color: Clear - Pale Yellow
  • Consistency: Thin
  • Perfumery Note: Middle
  • Strength of Initial Aroma: Medium

The process of producing oil will begin after the tree has been on the ground for some time. The oil will develop gradually in the trunk and the longer the tree remains on the ground, the higher the quality of essential oil that it will contain.  As the wood matures, after the tree has died, chemical changes occur which make it a very powerful oil.

Palo Santo grows wildy in the forest. However, we are replanting palo santo trees that we will not get to process. This is our contribution to the future generations to come.

Through a distillation process by vapor steam (no chemicals) we obtain an essential oil which is used for Aromatherapy, massages and for manufacturing cosmetics, such as palo santo soap.

Properties of Monoterpene D-Limonene in Cancer Prevention: The characteristic aroma of Palo Santo comes from its natural monoterpenes. The properties of the solvent monoterpenes were used to chemically dissolve gallstones, the monoterpenes are also the focus of much research in the area of cancer prevention. Cancer prevention, inhibition and regression are the greatest powers of D-limonene (DL) that was shown to be chemopreventive against tumors: breast, liver, lungs, skin (UV-induced) and quemioterapeutica against the tumors: breast and pancreas. Palo Santo by their shape and natural components has enormous potential in preventing cancer without any contraindication.

Steam distillation

Each plant has its distinct perfume. The perfume and aromatic essences are the "soul" of the plant. The Essential Oil of Palo Santo comes from the extraction of the oily glands of the plant.

Using a specific distiller for essential oils; the dried wood is passed through a steam stream so the oily glands open up, allowing in this way that its content mixes with the steam; the same that enters through a cooling system which leads to the condensation of essential oil and the water to then separate naturally. 

This type of distillation does not use any kind of chemical solvents, that is, the essential oil of Palo Santo is 100% natural. Distilling the dry wood of the Palo Santo with the method through the steam current, you get to get an essential oil of the yellow-gold color, that emanates an intense citrus smell; with the following active ingredients:

  • Limonene 89.33%
  • a-Terpineol 10.9%
  • Menthofuran 6.6%
  • Carvone 2.0%
  • Germacrene D 1.7%
  • y-Muurolene 1.2%
  • trans-Carveol 1.1%
  • Pulegone 1.1%


What is Palo santo oil used for?

The essential oil of palo santo has great benefits that you can obtain if you use it properly, pay attention and learn how to properly use essential oils.


  • Flu, allergies, asthma, migraine and bad mood: Dilute a few drops in water and dissolved vapors to the atmosphere with a diffuser of essences.
  • Meditation and relaxation psychophysical: Dilute a few drops in water and dissolved vapors to the atmosphere with a diffuser of essences.
  • Prevention of stomach tumors, liver, lung, breast and skin: Apply three drops under the tongue 3 times daily for 6 days a week.


  • Flu, allergies, asthma, migraine and bad mood: Apply a few drops on the chest at heart level, nose, sides of the head (temple) and the neck.
  • Massages: Reactive blood circulation and recharge the energy level.

  • Arthritis, arthrosis, neck pain and muscle aches: only when there is pain, apply 3 times a day a few drops directly on the point of pain and massage until oil is absorbed. Protect the affected area with a red bandage because this color increases the body energy flow.
  • Dizziness: Apply a few drops on the chest at heart level.
  • Panic, stress and laboral anxiety: Apply a few drops on the chest at heart level, nose and the neck.
  • Direct Palm Inhalation: Place a drop of this uplifting and clarifying oil in the palm of your hand, gently rub the palms together, bring them towards your face and take a deep inhalation. Exhale slowly... enjoy!

Safety and Precautions of the palo santo oil

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid using Palo Santo essential oil.
  • Keep Palo Santo essential oil out of reach of children.
  • The essential oil of Palo Santo is safe for topical applications (dilute it in a carrier oil) and aromatic.
  • Store in a cool, dry place in a glass container.
  • The essential oil of Palo Santo has a shelf life of approximately three to four years.

(Note: Ecuadorianhands website does not contain medical advice. The contents of this website, are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. The contents of this website are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice.)

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