Agarwood Oil, also known as Oud oil, or Aloeswood oil, is one of the rarest and expensive essential oils found on planet earth. Because of its rarity the oil has obtained a mythical status in many of the world’s religions. Buddhists use agarwood for transmutation of ignorance while Tibetan monks use it to calm the mind and spirit. The Sufis and Japanese Shaman use agarwood oil to enhance mental clarity and open the third eye. Agarwood has been said to calm the nervous system, expel negative energy, relieve anxiety, and enhance cerebral function. Non-traditional religions prize agarwood because it’s highly psychoactive allowing it to assist them in spiritual journeys, enhance awareness to enlightenment, and to bring a deep peace which is necessary for meditation. Buddha was to have said that the smell of agarwood burning “is the scent of Nirvana”.
The unique scent is particularly sought after and some believe it to be the most powerful natural aphrodisiac on earth. The odor is described as complex, deep and woody, and very pleasing, with no other comparison found in nature. There is truly nothing else that has been synthesized that compares to the scent. For thousands of years by many cultures, agarwood was the most treasured incense ingredient. Christian historians tell us that it was agarwood and Myrrh that was burned at Jesus of Nazareth’s burial ceremony.
To understand the rarity of this oil, one must understand the origins, timetable, and processes necessary to naturally produce it. There are several species of Agarwood-producing trees (Aquilara and Gyrinops) which can be found in India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The prized oil is only extracted from the darkened heartwood of those trees which have been infected by a particular type of fungus or mold known as phialophora parasitica. In uninfected trees, the heartwood, or center of the tree, is odorless and relatively light and pale in color. Infected tree however have a dark, very dense, resin embedded heart which occurs as a natural defense mechanism by the tree itself where it produces the resin in response to the attack. The fungus and tree have a battle of sorts with the decomposition process continuing over time and in the process generating a very rich and dark resin that resides within the heartwood. The very valuable agarwood develops slowly over time, typically several hundred years or more. That resin embedded wood is the prize for those seeking to make essential oils, perfumes, or incense. Because of its rarity, Agarwood oil is not well known in the West, except by connoisseurs of essential oils and very experienced practitioners of aromatherapy.
There are many grades of Agarwood, and many price tags to go along with them; Wild wood being much more valuable than cultivated wood. Prices for the very top quality product have been rumored to fetch $50,000 per pound and ranging all the way down to $50.00 per pound. The factors which make the pricing so broad have to do with the geographical location, botanical species, and age of the specific tree, cultural deposition and the section of the tree where the piece of agarwood stems from. With the primary wild source being an endangered species, the pricing on the rarest sources will remain high if not increasing.
Most of the agarwood produced is purchased by Japanese and Saudi Arabian buyers. The reasons are many, but some of the noteworthy uses are for treating sexual problems. Agarwood oil is widely believed to boost male sperm count, enhance libido, and even cure premature ejaculation problems. It also has a strong diuretic effect and is used in detoxification of the urinary system. It is also used to treat joint pain and inflammation and has a natural analgesic property which makes it extremely safe for regular use. Countless other positive things can be attributed to agarwood oil
There have been various methods employed to cheat the system and boost the price for inferior grades of oils whether through mixing oils from different origins, quality levels, or by adding other ingredients and then marketing the final product as a higher grade. Trees are deliberately damaged and opened to infection and wood samples have been adulterated by adding other resins, paints, or inserting things into the wood to make it appear heavier and more like natural agarwood. When there is a valuable and rare commodity such as this, buyer beware is a necessity.