Agarwood, also known as oud, oudh, agar, aloeswood, gaharu, jinko or lign-aloes, is a dark resinous heartwood that forms in Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees (large evergreens native to southeast Asia) when they become infected with a type of mould. Prior to infection, the heartwood is odourless, relatively light and pale coloured; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin in response to the attack, which results in a very dense, dark, resin embedded heartwood. The resin embedded wood is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes.
Benefits of Agarwood
The benefits that are involved with Agarwood are vast, ranging from psychoactive and spiritual, to therapeutic and medicinal.
- Agarwood calms the body, removes destructive and negative energies, provides enhanced awareness, reduces fear, invokes a feeling of vigour and harmony, and enhances mental functionality
- Agarwood is highly effective for meditation, enlightenment, bringing deep tranquility and relaxation
- Medically, agarwood is aphrodisiac, diuretic, relieves epilepsy, antimicrobial, carminative and anti-asthmatic.
- Agarwood is used in nervous disorders, digestive issues, bronchial complaints, smallpox, rheumatism, illness during and after childbirth, spasms in the digestive and respiratory systems, fevers, abdominal pain, asthma, cancer, colic, diarrhea, nausea, regurgitation, weakness in the elderly, shortness of breath, chills, general pains and cirrhosis of the liver. It has also been used as a treatment for lung and stomach tumours.
History of Agarwood
The Prophet Muhammad held the tradition of fumigation with agarwood which is still on-going in the Muslim religion up to this day. The Holy Prophet made known that agarwood is an unequivocal item of Paradise in his saying, “The first group of people who will enter Paradise, will be glittering like the full moon and those who will follow them, will glitter like the most brilliant star in the sky. They will not answer the call of nature nor spit or have any nasal secretions. Their combs will be of gold, and their sweat will smell like musk. The agarwood will be used in their centers.” The Prophet Muhammad also revealed the extensive healing qualities of agarwood, which in the particular saying, referred to Hindi Agarwood and its efficacy in treating pleurisy.
The Song of Songs describes King Solomon as “coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense” and there are countless references throughout this book of the Old Testament to “every kind of incense tree” which popular belief denotes to agarwood. Several citations of agarwood is quoted in the bible, including a section in which Jesus is said to have been scented with agarwood.
In the past, the mass affluent Chinese used to make their coffins out of agarwood while in Buddhism, the most precious Buddhist string of beads numbering to 108 is made of agarwood. One story tells of a monk’s sacrificing spirit in which whenever he met with the sick, he grinds one of his agarwood beads into powder for their consumption and even those who were seriously ill recovered.
Various reports tells us of the consummate luxurious habits of King Louis XIV of France, who had the habit of washing his clothes in rose water in which agarwood had been previously boiled in. Agarwood has also been associated with the Chinese tradition of Fengshui, a discipline of governing the flow of energy in a particular place, and agarwood has been linked with producing good luck and positive energy wherever it is placed.
In China’s medical book 《本草纲目》: a Chinese materia medica work written by Li Shizhen during the Ming dynasty, also mentioned agarwood’s benefits in healing internal organ.