Scents, aromas or fragrances can have profound effects on our physical health. They can trigger memories, encourage relaxation, stimulate creativity, increase motivation and heighten sexual desire.
Depending on the material and its burning, incense smoke can contain various pollutants. When inhaled, these pollutants can cause respiratory dysfunction. It is therefore important to use only high quality incense.
1. Reduces Stress
Smelling the aroma of incense is known to calm the mind and improve concentration. This is because the olfactory sense sends signals to the limbic system of the brain, which controls memory and emotions.
Many types of incense have calming fragrances, such as Lavender or Rosemary. Other scents like Sandalwood and Frankincense have been shown to increase concentration and focus.
Light an anti-stress incense stick as you settle down to meditate or read in the evening, or when you’re starting your day. The soothing fragrance will help you unwind and relax so that you can take on the day with confidence. This will help reduce stress and lead to a more restful night of sleep.
2. Reduces Anxiety
Various scents of incense can help reduce anxiety and stress by creating a sense of calm. According to research, incense can improve mood by raising serotonin levels in the brain.
It can also stimulate creativity by enhancing concentration power. Moreover, it can promote positive vibes, making it perfect for religious rituals.
For example, frankincense incense is used during meditation and yoga to create a peaceful atmosphere. The resinous fragrance helps relieve anxiety and encourages a connection with the divine. Meanwhile, palo santo incense is believed to have a grounding effect and can be burned as a spiritual cleansing ritual for homes or sacred spaces.
3. Improves Sleep
Many people think of incense as just an air freshener but it has many physical and psychological benefits to the mind and body. Using certain incense can help you relax, reduce stress and anxiety and aid sleep. Some herbs like lavender are known for their calming and sedative properties which can make it easier to fall asleep.
Some incense also contains essential oils that can help ease depression. A study showed that participants with PTSD who inhaled rose-scented incense experienced improved memory. This is because the scent stimulates the brain’s olfactory system to trigger memories associated with the smell. Choose all-natural incense that does not contain synthetic materials as the chemicals used can cause health problems.
4. Detoxifies the Body
The smoke from incense sticks is said to cleanse the body and soul, and can help you to feel more focused. It is also said that incense helps to relax the nerves and encourages good health.
However, when incense smoke pollutants are inhaled they can cause respiratory system dysfunction. It has also been shown to increase cord blood IgE, a risk factor for allergic contact dermatitis.
In comparison, cigarette smoke has been linked to lung cancer and other diseases. In general, frequent incense burning does not pose a serious health risk if it is properly used and smoked outside or with open windows.
5. Decreases Blood Pressure
A 2008 study of frankincense resin found that the compounds that it releases when burned cause a chemical response in the brain that activates receptors associated with feelings of relaxation and peace. This results in lower blood pressure.
Inhaling incense smoke can also kill germs and help wounds heal faster. In fact, one type of incense was used to sterilize a hospital ward and is currently used as an ingredient in wound cleanser. Despite these benefits, incense does have negative health effects. Several epidemiological studies have shown that domestic incense burning increases the risk of lung cancer. It has also been linked to respiratory symptoms like wheezing and asthma in children.
6. Decreases Pain
Some incense scents are calming and soothing, so they can help relieve headaches or other pains. They can also decrease anxiety. Our sense of smell is a direct path to the brain. Different scents trigger certain memories that make us feel rewarded, relaxed or comforted.
It is important to note that some studies have found that incense smoke can cause asthma, however it isn’t as clear cut as inhaling second hand smoke or smoking cigarette smoke. The key to decreasing the risk is using only reputable brands and ensuring it’s used in well ventilated areas. Also, avoiding incense with high levels of safrole and musk ketones which are linked to triggering asthma.