Palo Santo Essential Oil (Bursera Graveolens)

Palo Santo Essential Oil
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Botanical name   Bursera Graveolens

Family   Burseraceae

Source   Wood

Origin   Ecuador

Processing Method   Steam distilled

Color/Consistency   A thin, clear, pale yellow to light brown liquid.

Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma     A top note with a medium aroma, Palo Santo Essential Oil has a fresh, intense woody aroma with a slight hint of citrus.

Blends with   Cedar Wood, Sandalwood and other wood oils.

Product Abstract

Palo Santo oil is a true aromatic treasure and a Floracopeia staple. It is renowned for its distinctive uplifting fragrance and its pronounced healing powers. Palo Santo Essential Oil is rich in limonene. A natural purifier, use it in your diffuser to keep you and your family healthy through the winter months. Palo Santo oil is among the best oils to use via direct palm inhalation for its clearing and inspiring properties. It has settling, calming and grounding qualities, thus making it a great ally for maintaining emotional equanimity, as well as a superb oil for spiritual upliftment.


Palo Santo, a name now more popular in medicine than in history. A sacred tree used by Shaman’s and in ancestral medicinal practices, known to have cleansing and healing properties. It is used in meditation for creating a deeper bond with the creation. The Shaman of Peru used to burn Palo Santo to ward off evil spirits, thoughts and misfortune with its aroma.

Harvesting/Extraction Information

The essential oil is distilled from the heartwood of the Palo Santo tree. It is fascinating that the heartwood must be at least two years old and be from the red wood to produce the higher quality oil. I have also read that the longer the tree has been dead, the more powerful the oil. This also holds true for frankincense essential oil.

Common Usage

  • Cold or Flu Treatment
  • Headache Treatment
  • De-Stressor and Relaxant
  • Detoxifier and Immune Enhancer
  • Joint and Muscle Pain Reducer
  • Bug/Mosquito Repellent
  • Allergy Reducer
  • Household Cleaner


Dilute well before use; for external use only. A dermal irritant, it may cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.

Key constituents

(þ)-Limonene 58.6–63.3%

(þ)-Menthofuran 6.6–11.8%

a-Terpineol 7.1–10.9%

Carvone 1.6–2.0%

Germacrene D 1.7%

b-Pulegone 1.1–1.2%

g-Muurolene 0.7–1.2%

(E)-Carveol 0.4–1.1%

Safety summary
Hazards Skin sensitization if oxidized; hepatotoxicity.
Cautions Old or oxidized oils should be avoided.    94 mg
Maximum dermal use level  3.4%

Our safety advice
Our oral and dermal restrictions are based on 11.8% menthofuran and 1.2% pulegone content, with limits of 0.2 mg/kg/ day and 0.5% for menthofuran, and of 0.5 mg/kg/day and 1.2% for pulegone. Because of its (þ)-limonene content, we recommend that oxidation of palo santo oil is avoided by storage in a dark, airtight container in a refrigerator. The addition of an antioxidant to preparations containing it is recommended.

Regulatory guidelines
IFRA recommends that essential oils rich in limonene should only be used when the level of peroxides is kept to the lowest practical level, for instance by adding antioxidants at the time of production.

Organ-specific effects
Adverse skin reactions  No information found.
Hepatotoxicity  Menthofuran is toxic to both liver and lung tissue in mice. In rats, high oral doses of menthofuran caused hepatotoxicity, detected as changes in blood levels of liver enzyme markers for liver disease. b-Pulegone is also hepatotoxic.

Systemic effects
Acute toxicity  No information found.
Carcinogenic potential  No information found. (þ)-Limonene displays anticarcinogenic activity.

Bursera graveolens is a wild-growing small tree. It is regarded as a critically endangered species in Peru. The essential oil is mainly produced in Ecuador, where the plant is unofficially also endangered.

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