10 Agarwood Oil Benefits That Prove It Is The “Wood of Gods”
Did you know that Malaysians use agarwood essential oil as a natural liniment (an embrocation that is rubbed on the body to get rid of pain)? Yes, you heard that right. Even Chinese & Indians used it in their traditional medicines to treat skin diseases. But the agarwood oil benefits aren’t limited to just treating skin issues.
There is much more that agarwood can do, but not many are aware of them. It can treat rheumatism, jaundice, pleurisy, abdominal pain, stomach tumors, abdominal pain, and small pox.So, let’s understand agarwood in detail.
What is Agarwood Oil?
To extract Agarwood essential oil, the tree has to be at least 8 to 12 years old because it tends to have a higher resin content. Also, this resin gets better as it ages, more like wine. The process of extraction is carried out via steam or water distillation.
This resin is infected by a mould. The mould that infects agarwood is Phialophora parasitica. As the infection progresses, the tree produces dark, dense, and an aromatic resin called aloes or agar. This resin embedded wood is often used in scents.
In the initial stage of the distillation process, the wood of Agarwood is chopped into tiny pieces and fully immersed in water for 1-3 months. The soaked wood is then placed in big boilers. This is when the water evaporates with the resin. Then, it is collected in a condenser. The method of steam extraction is popular in East-Asian countries. (1)
Agarwood essential is always high in demand. It is used for religious purposes, as incense, and in perfumes.
In the middle east, these scents are still the symbol of wealth.
Kanankoh oil is reported to be the highest quality agarwood oil whereas Jinkoh is reported to be of the lowest quality. (2)
Agarwood is also known as oud, gharuwood, or aloeswood.
Agarwood or Oud essential oil comes with high price tags based on its purity.
Premium-grade agarwood is reported to be one of the world’s most expensive raw materials with prices as high as 100,000 USD/kg. However, the ones with solvents can be as low as 100 USD/kg. (3)
Scientific Name of Agarwood Oil
The botanical name of agarwood is Aquilaria malaccensis.
History of Agarwood Oil
Agarwood has great cultural significance for decades. The use of agarwood scents is not new. In fact, it dates back to 1400 BC in Vedas (the root books of Hinduism). Vedas are the oldest scripture available in the world.
It is also known as the "wood of Gods". Its scents or sweet-smelling aromatic compounds have always captured human attention for eras. It is also documented that the scents of agarwood were used by the Pharaohs of Egypt.
Agarwood tree and its uses are highly reserved in the seminal texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Dioscorides, a well-known botanist, physician, and pharmacologist, described the medicinal uses of agarwood oil in his book Materia Medica in 65 CE.
Dioscorides described the astringent and bitter taste of agarwood oil. He mentioned that when agarwood is chewed or consumed as a decoction, it helps in freshening your breath. (4) Its roots are helpful in treating dysentery, lung pain, and liver disorders.
Color, Consistency, and Smell of Agarwood Oil
- The color of agarwood oil is light orange or greenish-brown or dark brown.
- The consistency of agarwood oil is thick.
- The smell of agarwood oil is Smokey, sweet, and woody.
Properties of Agarwood Essential Oil
The key properties of agarwood oil include:
- Antiasthmatic - Prevents asthma & eosinophilia
- Antioxidant - Scavenges free radicals
- Antitoxic - Works as an anti-venom and helps nullify the toxicity
- Hepatoprotective – Protects the liver cells
- Diuretic - Increases urination
- Analgesic – Natural pain reliever
- Antipyretic - Fights against endopyrogens and lowers high body temperature or fever
- Antisirosis – Fights against liver disease and leg pain due to cirrhosis
- Aphrodisiac - Increases sexual urge
- Antidiabetic – Controls diabetes
- Cardioprotective - Protects your heart
Chemical Compounds in Agarwood Oil
The active compound in agarwood oil is agrosperol. A premium quality agarwood oil is a rich source of resin. It has sesquiterpenes and chromone derivatives in abundance.
Health Benefits of Agarwood Oil
Though agarwood oil benefits are abundant, the most noteworthy ones proved by different studies in recent years include:
- Treats rheumatism
- Helps cure jaundice
- Relieves abdominal pain
- Works as a nervine tonic
- Protects the kidneys
- Well-known antiasthmatic
- Eases muscle spasms
- Helps prevent cancer
- Treats bacterial & fungal infections
- Increases sexual urge
1. Treats rheumatism
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease associated with deposition of urea in joints. Due to this, the urea crystals form like a liquid between the joints, which is responsible for joint pain.
However, agarwood is a great diuretic. This property ensures that you have healthy urination and when you pass urine, the excess urea excretes out of the body, and thus, preventing further deposition in joints. (7)
It also has analgesic property, which culminates the pain. This property is mainly attributed to the presence of sesquiterpenes and phenolic compounds.
2. Helps cure jaundice
Agarwood or aloeswood helps treat jaundice. This is due to its hepaprotective properties. It protects the liver cells from damage and inhibits the breakdown of RBC (Red Blood Corpuscles).
It increases the AST, ALP, ALT, LDH, Bilirubin, and good Cholesterol levels and decreases the ALB & TP levels. (8) Thanks to its natural phytochemicals.
3. Relieves abdominal pain
The sesquiterpenes in agarwood essential oil are responsible for increase in appetite and relieving abdominal pain. It has a carminative property and due to this, it nullifies the effect of pain in the stomach.
It also inhibits gastric ulcer, improves peristalsis, and enhances or increase gastric emptying. Agarwood is also helpful in preventing constipation. (9)
4. Work as a nervine tonic
Agarwood is helpful in treating nervous system disorders. It reduces spontaneous motility, prolonged hexobarbiturate, and decreases rectal temperature.
Agarwood has a sedative hypotonic effect. It helps in improving memory loss. The terpenoids present in agarwood enhances your sleeping time and relaxes your mind. When both these factors are under control, it in turn, prevents hypertension. (10)
Therefore, it can be used as an effective remedy for hypertension patients. Besides relaxing them, its diuretic properties remove excess salt from the blood via urination and control high blood pressure.
5. Protects the kidneys
Agarwood or Indian aloeswood is an effective remedy for renal protection (or kidney protection).
Kidneys help in purifying the blood and removes impurities from it. These impurities are usually the waste products generated by your body during the process of metabolism. Even excess salt, uric acid, and creatinine are filtered.
Due to the presence of terpenoids, agarwood can enhance the filtration process and eliminate excess uric acid and other excretory products naturally. (11)
Being an excellent diuretic, it increases urination and removes uric acid, protecting renal cells as well as neutralizing increased blood pressure.
6. Well-known antiasthmatic
Indian aloeswood is a strong antiasthmatic, meaning that it works against asthma and further, protects the lungs. (12)
Aloeswood is a rich source of terpenoids and flavonoids. These flavonoids help reduce the effects of asthma. It is also an admired anti-inflammatory. It prevents swelling in the respiratory tract due to allergens.
Allergens can cause irritation and swelling in the respiratory tract when inhaled. They cause blockage in the respiratory tract, which can cause difficulties when you breathe.
When the respiratory path narrows down from swelling, the patient suffers from a low oxygen supply to the lungs, and this, in turn, causes an asthmatic problem.
The anti-inflammatory property of aloeswood helps in reducing inflammation, widening of the respiratory tract, and eases inhalation. It can also be said that it nullifies the effect of allergens. It also protects the lungs from infections and other microbial growth.
7. Eases muscle spasms
Spasms are a contraction of the involuntary muscles. These spasms can turn out to be risky in the case of pregnancy. They can risk childbirth and cause trauma conditions.
However, Agarwood is a wonderful herb to ease spasms, especially before and after childbirth. (13)
8. Helps prevent cancer
Agarwood has potent anti-cancerous properties too. The antioxidants in it are pretty helpful in fighting against cancerous cells. It eliminates the free radicals generated in the body.
Free radicals are the result of metabolism and other activities inside the body. They rupture the cell walls and cause cell death or apoptosis.
Apoptosis is a medical term for cell death. It indicates the death of cells due to internal factors. However, the antioxidants in agarwood protect the healthy cells from dying and trigger apoptosis, especially in cancerous cells.
During a study, when β-Caryophyllene was isolated from A. crassna essential oil, it exhibited selective anti-proliferative properties against colorectal cancerous cells. Hence, being a potent source of antioxidants, agarwood is quite helpful in the treatment of cancer.
9. Treats bacterial & fungal infections
Agarwood has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. The natural agarwood showed inhibitive activities towards Bacillus subtilis & Staphylococcus aureus. Agarwood oil does not allow any fungal and bacterial growth.
The alcohol integrated with phenyl group break the cell wall and rupture the structure of the microbes. When the structure is ruptured or broken, the microbial cells disintegrate or die. It can also be formulated as an oral drug to cure the effect of microbial growth in the body.
10. Increases sexual urge
It is also helpful in sublimating other problems of sexual dysfunction, mainly related to decreased sexual potential. No wonder they are often used in seductive perfumes.
Being a rich source of flavonoids, it regulates the level of NO (Nitric Oxide) in penile muscles. The increased level of NO in penile arteries causes proper erectile function.
Also, the antioxidants in agarwood control the free radical and ensure proper erectile function.
What Blends with Agarwood Oil?
- Sandalwood oil
- Neroli oil
- Frankincense oil
- Myrrh oil
- Jasmine oil
- Rose Otto oil
- Lemon oil
- Bergamot oil
- Vetiver oil
- Patchouli oil
- Orris Root oil
- Lime oil
- Ylang ylang oil
How To Use Agarwood Oil?
Like any other essential oil, even agarwood oil is potent in its concentrated form. Hence, it has to be mixed with a suitable carrier oil before applying it on the skin.
- Massage: Mix 2-5 drops of agarwood oil in 2-3 tablespoons of jojoba oil, coconut oil, or sweet almond oil. Use this mixture to massage your body.
- Aromatherapy: Diffuse a few drops of agarwood essential oil and inhale its aromatic compounds for a few minutes to reap its benefits.
Side Effects of Agarwood Oil
Thought the scents of agarwood oil has been used for thousands of years, an overdose can cause problems.
On excess inhalation, it can cause:
When applied topically without diluting it with a carrier oil, it may cause swelling, redness, irritation, and increased pain.
On oral administration, it may cause vomiting, nausea, and heartburn. To neutralize this effect intake of water and cucumber is recommended.