Incense: an authentic greeting from Oman

Incense: an authentic greeting from the depths of time and Oman

The sun burns over a rocky semi-desert. The soil glows and only here and there a little green emerges. Where the low trees scatter, men stand in their native clothing. They are protected from the sun by a long white shishdash shirt and their heads are covered by a traditional turban muzzar. They expertly cut the bark of a sacred tree with long knives. These men are Bedouins and the incense harvest season has just begun.

Oman – the cradle of pure incense

We are in the southern part of the Sultanate of Oman in early April and temperatures are just starting to rise. During the day it will definitely be more than 30°C. The world-famous area of ​​the Dawkah and Dhofara Mountains is crossed by an ancient incense trail, and today four local sites are listed on the UNESCO list of cultural monuments as the Land of Frankincense. The exceptionally inhospitable region provides a specific climate for the growth of Boswellia sacra. A tree, whose fragrant resin was the first tradable raw material in the world.

Boswellia sacra is the most prized among about 20 species of incense. The trees grow exclusively in the south of the Arabian Peninsula and in the mountains of northeastern Somalia. They are more like shrubs because they have a branched trunk and intricate branches. They grow to heights of 1.5 to 8 meters, but in Oman the incense tree grows to a maximum height of 5 meters. The tree is fully adapted for life in arid, desert areas and acclimatizes to higher altitudes. We will meet him even at 1200 m above sea level. His extraordinary properties include the ability to last up to ten months without moisture.

This incense tree from the province of Dhofar is irrigated only once a year by the monsoon, which makes its resin an exceptional commodity. In the dry part of the year, sap of them highest quality accumulates in the trunk, which is rich in active substances and especially Boswellic acid.

Collection of fragrant resin

But let’s go back to our collectors. They cut a thin paper layer of the bark of a wild-growing tree to reach the reddish-brown marrow. Soon a milky white juice will flow. It freezes immediately in the air and in a few days they will be able to collect it.

Bedouins sort hard lumps of resin according to quality and have a basic rule in their little finger: the first cut into the bark will provide a minimum of fluid. In 10 days, the cut can be reopened and then releases 30-40% more fragrance. In 45 days, the tree is ready for the third cut, which is the richest, and up to 90% more resin flows out of the trunk than when it was first cut. In total, the tree can withstand up to 300 cuts per season, which lasts until the end of June. Out of a respectful understanding of nature, the incense tree is then left to rest for two to three years.

Incense: more valuable than gold

Oman is famous for collecting incense and the incense from the Boswellia sacra is the most Prized of all. Resins were allegedly obtained from the tribe by people of the Late Stone Age.

In ancient times, commercial interests managed the incense trail. Here perhaps the very first traces were imprinted by the ancient Arab tribe of the Nabitieans, who sent caravans allthe way to Europe. But the camels didn’t just carry incense; the merchants brought salt, spices and perfumes to the markets. However, lumps of resin were probably the most valuable to the inhabitants. How else could explain how quickly the Omani merchants became rich? Incense was once valued even over gold.

There are more than 50 references to incense in the Bible. And what gifts did the Wise Men from the East bring the newborn Jesus? Correct: gold, myrrh and incense.

Sweat of the gods

The use of incense in religious ceremonies reaches deep into the past. A lump of resin was most often placed on hot coals and began to give off a characteristic spicy aroma. Incense served as a smoker to clean rooms, dwellings, churches and temples. Residents also learned to make essential oils, which were used in massages or used as perfumes.

Incense was allegedly known to the founder of medicine, Hippocrates, the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun and the Emperor Nero. The earliest mention of incense as a medicine was discovered on the famous Ebers papyrus, a 20-meter-long medical scroll from Egypt dated to 1500 BC. Drops of resin were poetically nicknamed the sweat of the gods.

Boswellia in Ayurveda

Incense is also found in the Indian religious tradition. However, the resin is obtained from a different species of tree, most often Boswellia serrata – sawtooth incense. Named from the shape of the leaves, its edges resemble a saw. The sacred tree is mentioned in two of the three basic texts of Ayurveda. Contemporary doctors used incense mainly to treat asthma, dysentery, skin diseases, ulcers, blood purification and other diseases. The treatment of joint pain is also mentioned, traditional phytotherapy preventing arthritis, for example. [1]

Incense in modern medicine

The beneficial effects of Boswellia are now being rediscovered by Western medicine. Countless studies have been published in which test subjects used Boswell internally. The results showed a positive effect of incense in the treatment of rheumatic diseases (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis) and intestinal inflammation (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease).

Some research shows that the four main Boswellic acids help prevent the formation of leukotrienes, the molecules that cause inflammation in the body. They can even cause asthma symptoms. The important anti-inflammatory properties of incense have stood the test of time and remain a valuable resource.

Boswellia sacra extract from Harmony is Life®

Incense from Oman contains 216 substances and a high concentration of triterpene (Boswellic) acids. Even the highest quality resin undergoes further refinement. An important aspect is the transparency and color of the lumps. The most valuable are the bright and semi-transparent ones. The brown color no longer corresponds to the highest quality.

Harmony is Life® emphasizes the maximum freshness of incense. After collection, the resin is immediately sealed in air-tight containers to preserve the active ingredients in the highest possible concentration. The lumps of incense are immediately transported by air to Europe for processing. That is why our mixture, hidden in capsules, is whitish and fragrant. An authentic greeting from the depths of time and Oman.

Harmonise your life with sacred Boswellia!

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