Most people who never or seldom use incense often think of it simply as an air freshener or an odor eater and are unaware of the many benefits it has to the mind and body. Even many regular incense users who use it regularly may not fully appreciate all its physical and psychological benefits.
Below are outlines of why just about every religion and culture since the beginning of time has used incense for its spiritual powers, why tribal healers and physicians throughout history have used incense for its healing powers, why monks have used incense for thousands of years for its concentration powers, why artists use incense to inspire creativity, and why couples use incense to heighten sexual experiences.
Enhancing Concentration & Focus
Whether it is during study or at work, the use of specific incenses enables clear thinking and helps in developing a state of complete awareness. Monks recognized this benefit of incense long ago and use it during their meditation to clear the air as well as their thoughts. Jewelry makers and other workers who require intense concentration also often use incense to help them focus and to switch back and forth between working under the microscope and working away from it.
Similar to an enjoyable song or beautiful scenery can inspire the imagination, a pleasing aroma can get the creative energy flowing. The many botanical scents of incense can transport one’s mind away to a tropical island, a rainforest, a mountainous range, or any other earthly heaven. The scents of incense can put one in a dream like state where the imagination is set free to roam.
Incense has long been used by religious and spiritual leaders to purify the air and the soul. Certain incense smoke has antibacterial, fungicidal, and insecticidal properties and, therefore, really does purify the air. It is said that the incense increases positive energy and drives away negative energy. The pure air is like health food for the brain and the body, resulting in an increased motivation and energy level.
With increased focus, creativity, and motivation naturally comes increased confidence. When your body is relaxed and your brain is firing on all cylinders, you’re at your best, and when you’re at your best, you’re at your most confident. Burning incense before a big date, a big test, or a big presentation can really increase your confidence and, therefore, your chances of success.
Heightening Sexual Desire
Everyone knows that pheromones are nature’s aphrodisiac, which is why they are used in perfumes to attract the opposite sex. Similarly, by indulging the sense of smell, incense acts as a powerful aphrodisiac. The scents created by certain incenses stimulate sexual appetite and increase sexual attraction. Additionally, we’ve already covered that incense can boost confidence and enhance focus, and nothing attracts the opposite sex more than confidence and focus. Therefore, even if one were to use incense by himself and then meet up with his partner elsewhere, his increased confidence and focus will naturally turn his partner on. If a couple uses incense together, the smells will kick in the pheromone effect and they most likely will have a hard time keeping their hands off each other.
Many types of incense have antibacterial properties and can be used as a disinfectant to kill germs in the environment. In a recent Chinese study, incense was used to sterilize a hospital ward and was found to be just as effective as more standard means of sterilization such as using steam. By keeping your environment sterile, you can prevent infections and disease. Because many herbs, such as Myrrh, also act as antiseptics, gathering the smoke from certain types of incense and rubbing it over a wound may actually help the wound heal faster since the smoke can kill germs on the wound.
Our sense of smell is a direct path to the brain and certain odors trigger an immediate response via the Limbic System. Particular aromas stimulate the brain to produce essential chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, which cause feelings of happiness, relaxation and contentment. For headache relief, certain incense aromas can help open the nasal passages, while others can lower blood pressure.
A study from an international team of scientists has discovered how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain that alleviate anxiety or depression. Incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, was administered to mice and found to stimulate TRPV3, a protein which helps reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. The compound significantly affected brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs.
Reducing Anxiety & Tension
The calming effects of incense are well known by Monks and spiritual leaders. Certain incense aromas work to slow down the heart rate and soothe nerves. These calming effects help to relieve built up tension in the muscles, enabling incense to also be used as a muscle relaxer.
As a result of the calming effects of incense, incense can also be used to induce sleep. The sedative properties of incense make it a great natural treatment to aid insomnia. This list is not quite thorough from the complete effects of incense that can have on the body and mind. There is a wide variety of plants and different parts of the plant used in incense, and each of these plants contains many different chemicals and compounds that effect the body. Inhaling these compounds is just another way of introducing them into the body, not much different than putting them into a pill form and ingesting them. The only difference is that inhaling them via incense has been done for thousands of years and is 100% natural, safe, and non-addicting. Therefore, incense should be considered as an effective remedy in treating such ailments as headaches and depression before resorting to prescription drugs. Because of all the benefits to the mind and body, it is wise to use incense on a regular basis to maintain health and happiness.