The Incense and Asthma Debate – What You Need to Know

Arabian incense, also known as bakhour, is one of the most common indoor smoke sources to which individuals are exposed. Burning bakhour releases toxic gases and airborne particles including particulate matter (PM), diethylene glycol (DEP) and gas products such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, isoprene, xylenes and benzene.

Household incense burning is associated with increased asthma and wheeze symptoms in GSTT1 null genotype children. These findings suggest a gene-environment interaction.

What is Incense?

Incense is an aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when it’s burned. It’s made from a variety of plant materials and essential oils and can be used for ambiance, therapy, and meditation.

It’s not uncommon for people to use incense during a religious service or other ceremonial occasion. The Bible mentions burning incense as an important part of worship. It’s also been associated with a number of health benefits, including reducing anxiety and stress.

Generally, incense is used for its aroma and may include resins like frankincense, styrax, or myrrh. They’re mixed with a variety of other natural materials like shredded wood, roots, seeds, or flowers to form the stick. These ingredients are then typically bound together with an adhesive substance. When burned, incense sticks produce a fragrant smoke that can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.

What are the Risks of Asthma from Incense Smoke?

Researchers have found that inhaling the smoke from burning certain types of incense has been linked to respiratory problems like asthma. This is mainly because the burning process of incense releases harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and oxides of nitrogen. These gases are known to cause inflammation in lung cells, triggering asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Moreover, long-term exposure to incense smoke has been linked with cardiovascular diseases as well. This is because the carbon monoxide and other chemicals released by the burning of incense can negatively affect metabolism, resulting in weight gain and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

While incense has been used for centuries, experts have only recently discovered that it can be dangerous to human health. The risk of asthma from incense isn’t as serious as that of smoking tobacco, but it can still be a problem for those with compromised airways. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the risks of incense smoke. For example, opening windows during or after incense use can help reduce the concentration of pollutants in your home’s air.

What Are the Alternatives to Incense Smoke?

Many people enjoy using incense as part of a meditation practice or simply for a pleasant, fragrant aroma. However, more research is needed into the effects of this popular daily activity on our health.

Burning incense emits air pollution that is a complex mixture of gaseous and particulate pollutants. This type of air pollution has been associated with various respiratory conditions and other health problems.

In addition to being unhealthy for us, incense smoke can also be harmful to our pets. Dogs are particularly sensitive to the toxins in smoke, which can overpower their natural sense of smell.

For those who want to avoid incense smoke, there are plenty of healthy alternatives. Try spritzing a room with diluted essential oils, or use one of these little wax warmers that can hold the scent for you. Alternatively, consider planting some houseplants that are known to reduce air pollution, such as bromeliads or dracaenas. If you’re looking for a more meditative experience, you can still try your hand at calming chanting or incense meditation with the help of some good music and a relaxing environment.

How Can I Avoid Asthma from Incense Smoke?

Inhaling incense smoke may trigger an asthma attack. It may also cause contact dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction that causes a rash. It is possible to avoid this by using natural or herbal incense that contains no chemicals.

Using an air purifier for asthma can help to reduce the amount of pollutants in the home. However, it is important to note that this does not eliminate all of the pollutants, as some of them are released when the air cools down.

A recent study found that daily exposure to incense smoke at home was associated with a decline in lung function among adolescents. This was attributed to the presence of particulate matter, gases and volatile organic compounds in incense smoke. These toxins can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, resulting in impaired lung function. Moreover, these chemicals can even change the structure of pulmonary tissues. Alternatively, using fragranced plants or dried flower potpourri can give the home a pleasant scent without causing respiratory distress.