What is Smudging?
Smudging is an ancient ritual and practice that originated across a number of indigenous cultures around the world. It involves burning sacred herbs or resins for the purposes of spiritual healing, cleansing and blessing rituals, and mental well-being. Substances used for smudging are numerous and derive from natural resources from unique geographical locations around the world.
Frankincense is resin harvested from Boswellia trees. Boswellia resin is tree sap that has been cured into a solid substance. When burned with charcoal or other combustibles, Frankincense resin produces a unique and identifiable aroma. There are over 24 known species of frankincense that have different properties, chemical compounds and scents based on the diversity of the environments from which they derive.
Frankincense is revered for both its medicinal properties and its’ incredible aroma. In its resin form it can be burned for purposes ranging from; air purity, reducing anxiety, spiritual clarity and religious ceremony. Top grade frankincense resin is also used for dental care due to its antimicrobial properties and is distilled in tea for its anti-inflammatory and general health properties. Frankincense is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and in athletic recovery supplements due to its high anti-inflammatory benefits. Once distilled into essential oil it is used in beauty product manufacturing and aromatherapy. The scent of frankincense, either when burned as resin or used in oil form, is known for its anti-anxiety and anti-depressant benefits. This is due to a chemical compound found in Boswellia called incensole acetate that has been linked in studies with emotional regulation.
Frankincense Trade, Then and Now
The largest portion of frankincense originates from sub-Saharan Africa and is among the first traded commodities in history distributed on the Incense Trade Route, dating back to 7th century B.C. Other areas of significance that grow and harvest frankincense are Oman and India. Frankincense and Myrrh (which is resin that derives from Commiphora Myrrha trees) was gifted to the infant Jesus alongside gold by the Three Kings.
The frankincense trade in Africa today is part of a poverty cycle that exploits trees, landowners and harvesting communities due to a lack of regulation and unethical trade practices. Although frankincense holds a high value, it is often purchased from harvesting communities severely under market value and sold at a significantly higher price to essential oil producers, thereby disproportionately benefitting very few middlemen. The low price of a yield or harvest forces many communities to over tap trees (tapping before they have regenerated) which damages the longevity of the trees over time and dilutes the quality of the resin. Without intervention it is estimated that some species of Boswellia trees could face extinction in as little as 20 years.
Efforts are being made by scientists, landowners, and ethical trade partners to restore the trees and redirect fair economic benefit to the harvesting communities. Every species of resin and essential oil that we sell is traceable, harvested sustainably and traded ethically. Small harvesting communities are not always able to afford the investment required to obtain “Organic” or “Fair Trade” certification, however the resins and oils we sell are 100% pure, of the highest quality available in the market, and directly benefit people and trees. This is our commitment to you.