Palo Santo is one of the most important trees used in traditional ethno-botanical medicine of South America. It is widely used as an incense for repelling mosquitoes. The wood is cooked into decoction and taken for fevers, infections, and skin diseases. It is still widely used by shamans of the Andes in curing ceremonies.
Although the oil is present in young trees and saplings, the highest quality is distilled from the aged heartwood. Palo Santo oil is golden yellow, with a fresh and intense citrus aroma. Under the lemon top notes are subtle resinous wood notes and a slight medicinal pungency, which give the oil an intriguing complexity.Analysis of Palo Santo oil reveals that it contains high levels of limonene, a monoterpene compound that has been found to have chemo-preventive and chemo-therapeutic effects against several types of cancer. In medical aromatherapy the oil can be used as an anxiolytic agent that counteracts panic attacks and anxiety, a respiratory remedy for cough, colds, and asthma, for headaches and migraines, and in massage therapy for pain and inflammation of the muscles and joints. In spiritual aromatherapy it can be beneficial for meditation, concentration, and for enhancing creativity and learning.