What are the benefits of burning incense?
7 Benefits of burning incense
Burning incense is a practice as old as humankind, though maybe not in the form we are here to talk about. Regardless of form, the tradition has been kept alive over thousands of years because the benefits are undeniable. This is not an exhaustive list, but definitely a good place to start. Let’s dive in!
Memories & nostalgia
Scent has a profound connection to the brain via the limbic system, which gives us the divine trinity of Scent, Memory & Emotions. We forge these mental pathways between our sensory perceptions and our lived experiences.
There are certain fragrances that can bring you back to a place in time, a specific memory or an overall feeling. Around the shop, we “smellmember”.
Pine may put you in the woods hiking a trail, or a festive dinner around the table with your family. Smelling Lilac will plant you in those early Spring days when the webs of winter are fully shaken off.
Light an incense stick and allow yourself to be taken back!
Relaxing & soothing
There have been a wealth of studies into the psychophysiological effects of aroma and burning incense. A common result is a general correlation with a reduced level of a stress state. Lavender is the most common fragrance associated with soothing anxiety and relaxation, though Frankincense has been studied and found to reduce anxiety and depression.
Bergamot is also found to ease stress. We are excited to have brought bergamot into our growing fragrance family and have used it for the first time, but not the last time, in our 2023 Spring limited edition fragrance.
Set a mood
Whether it’s a dinner party, a romantic evening or some down time with a book, fragrance can play a big role in setting the mood. If you want to set a warm inviting mood you may put on something comforting like Vanilla. If you are looking for something contemplative or purifying, you might put on Guidance.
Compliments routines & practices
The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic.
- David Bowie
Whatever your routines, rituals or practices, burning incense can enhance the experience. Most common pairings for incense burning would be for focused Meditation, yoga practice, prayer and religious ceremony. For Kristi and I, we have a motto which is do what you do and burn incense, too. I have found that, as above, I use it to set a mood across many of my different activities. If I am reading a book I’ll reach for something calming, like Cleansing. If I am listening to an album I try to pair what would serve the music.
Whether it’s the litter box, a bathroom visit or a fragrant dinner (that maybe you burnt? We don’t judge!) incense is a fast way to cover any unwanted lingering odors. I have 3 cats, all boys, and they seem to be in sync - they play together, eat at the same time, sleep at the same time and, well, poop on schedule. Lucky for me they are good boys and poop in the box and 2 out of 3 know to cover their business (looking at you, Nimoy). Still reaching for a incense stick of Egyptian Musk generally does the trick.
Fun fact: incense, like the hourglass and sundial, were early methods of time keeping in ancient societies. Though I don’t use it currently to keep time, I find it an interesting way to manage time. If I have an hour to get some reading in when I get home from work, I will light a stick of incense and when the fragrance is gone I know it’s time to get back to the grind.
Considerations when burning incense
It’s not hard to find studies that warn against burning incense, but there are none that conclude that incense poses any serious risk to health, and those that do are often paid for and promoted by tobacco companies looking to take the heat off of themselves. When burning incense responsibly, it should not pose a risk to one's health.
The responsible burning incense triad
- Always burn in well ventilated areas
- Never inhale smoke directly
- Always pay attention to your body
Incense is made with oils that may be personal allergens of yours. Common allergens include - but are not limited to - Patchouli, Cedar, Lemongrass & Sage.
Written by Kayte