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Does burned incense offer any properties?

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The incense it is a useful compound to burn and emit a fragrance to the pleasant environment. In fact, the origin of the word incense comes from the Latin derivation “to burn”.

This element has been around for many, many years. Already in ancient times, it was used in religious rituals, as in ancient Egypt, Greece or Babylon. As the centuries have passed to the present day, this resin is still used in various ways.

  • It continues to be used for prayer and religious practice,
  • Useful to reduce unpleasant odors in the environment.
  • It is included within the ingredients of aromatherapy.

What is incense composed of?

Incense is usually composed of aromatic type material they are capable of emitting a fragrance, in addition to a combustible element that keeps it active until it is completely consumed.

The ingredients and aromas used for manufacture it they are usually of vegetable origin and include a wide variety of bark, resins, roots, seeds and even flowers.

The most used and common, depending on the manufacturer and the region where it is produced are usually the following:

In general, the materials for the combustion of the bar are usually formed by wood or charcoal, elements as natural as possible since by burning they will be emitted into the air that we are going to breathe.

How to burn incense

Smoke from incense

To this day, we have several options to buy incense, and it is not always the well-known wooden stick.

In the market we find several versions, such as:

  • Coils
  • Cone shape
  • Powders to add to the fire
  • Sticks (the best known)

To start burning incense, the first thing is to light it gently. Once the incense has been lit, we will see how a small flame appears that we will have to extinguish with a slight blow.

From here, the incense will glow and begin to produce scented smoke. Even if we don’t see flame or the orange part of the combustion, that doesn’t mean it’s not burning. We will notice it by the aroma and smoke it gives off.

The time it takes to be fully consumed varies according to its shape and length. An incense bar lasts between 50 minutes and 1 hour and a half.

Keep in mind that burning this resin can cause a fire hazard. Even if there is no flame, it does not take away that a gust of air or vibrations makes the bar or the stick fall and burn curtains, paper or cardboard in the room.

General recommendations for those who usually used in aromatherapy are as follows:

  • Use an appropriate burner.
  • Place the censer on a surface resistant to fire and high temperatures.
  • Avoid leaving incense during combustion unattended.

Mainly, the last recommendation is the one that has the most common sense.

Does incense provide benefits for our health?

At this point in the article, we will analyze the main scientific reviews in relation to the use of incense in aromatherapy.

Any of the ingredients that may be included in this material, cause health benefits, such as cinnamon, myrrh, the plant itself Plectranthus madagascariensis, etc. However, the use of these medicinal plants by infusion or topically is not the same as through gases, by aroma.

There is little research regarding the possible health benefits it may offer. Many of these available studies only focus on the ingredients of frankincense or myrrh.

Although its burning is related to religious practice and meditation, it cannot necessarily produce benefits for problems such as anxiety, depression or airway diseases, for example.

What does science say about all this?

A scientific study conducted in 2008 and on animals, identified a substance present in the resin that could activate the same responses of the antidrepessive drugs.

Brain behavior was analyzed and areas of the brain associated with anxiety, stress states and depression were activated. [See study]

In turn, an aNor before conclusions were obtained that resins from this plant or myrrh had effects against inflammation, again evaluated in animals.

However, these studies were conducted on the resins, not on the smoke produced by burning the resins.

Therefore no conclusive reports that smoke can benefit us for health, unless it is indirectly related to the ability to calm stress thanks to forms of meditation.

Ways to burn incense

The long-term incense burning is associated with the possibility of squamous cell lung cancer. [Scientific essay]

There is no relationship between smoke production or higher prevalence at asthma or diseases of the respiratory tract. [Source of information]

A recent study in China found evidence in adults about increased hypertension with its burning. [See study]


There is no scientific evidence of the benefits of incense at the physical level on health, at least in animals. However, it can help reduce states of stress, anxiety or facilitate meditation in many people, something that benefits mental integrity.

On the other hand, the habitual and long-term consumption of this compound, given the volatile ingredients it produces after burning, can harm health and cause serious diseases.

This use is not common for the general population, which only uses it for a maximum of 1 hour and is away from the smoke it produces.

About Lela M Altman

Lela M. Altman is a distinguished biochemist dedicated to unraveling the intricacies of life at the molecular level. With a robust background in molecular biology and genetics, she has contributed significantly to our understanding of key cellular processes. Her groundbreaking research spans diverse areas, from DNA replication mechanisms to protein folding dynamics. Dr. Altman's work has led to innovative treatments for various diseases and shed light on the origins of life itself. Her unwavering commitment to scientific exploration has earned her accolades and respect in the scientific community, solidifying her status as a trailblazing figure in the field of biochemistry.

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