Oudh/Agarwood oil is derived from an Agarwood tree that grows abundantly in Laos, but is found all over Southeast Asia. The highest quality Agarwood trees can be found in the former countries of Indochina, such as: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Also found in Assam a province in India, where the best distillers in the world can be found. Agarwood/Oud oil are products of infected species of trees, commonly being sought from Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees.
New methods to cultivate Agarwood in plantation grown trees by stimulating naturally occurring compounds called Sesquiterpenes and Chromones. These compounds are produced as a defense mechanism in the living tree to ward off microbial attack and are produced only under very specific circumstances within a tiny percentage of trees. The resin can now be produced in trees as young as ten years old, without adversely affecting the environment and creating jobs for some of the poorest areas in the world.
With less than one percent of wild Agarwood trees producing the resin and no way of knowing which trees have the resinous wood, indiscriminate cutting has resulted in very few old Agarwood trees remaining in the wild. Although protected by law in most countries and by international treaties, illegal cutting still occurs and old trees are endangered.
Agarwood comes in solid or liquid form. Solids are only solid at room temperature, and if warmed slightly, it turns to mobile liquid. It is an anti-asthmatic and can be applied directly to the skin as it is non-irritating. The oil is very tenacious and only the tiniest of drops is needed to fill the air with its soul evoking aroma. It is a complex aroma with many nuances, deep and ethereal. The aroma takes about 12 hours to unfold and it will last on the skin for more than a day, and if placed on any material, the scent can last for months. It can be used as a perfume, an aroma therapy and an essential oil or as an aid for the deepest meditation. It is believed that this fragrances will unlock the subconscious and allow you to go deep into your memories. The resin is also used in perfumery, Yves Saint Laurent and Amouage use Agarwood in their top perfumes as a base.
The Aquilaria tree grows up to 40 meters high and 60 centimeters in diameter. It bears sweetly-scented, snow-white flowers. These trees form resins within the heartwood that can then produce Oudh/Agarwood oils. Of the 26 species (two of them are believed to be extinct) of Aquilaria trees found in fifteen countries around the world, it is thought that 4-6 of them can produce the highly acclaimed Oudh oil resin. The trees frequently become infected with a parasite fungus or mold, Phialophora parasitica, and begin to produce an aromatic resin, in response to this attack. The results are achieved by allowing plenty of time for infection to take place, and preferably in the forest or other non-contrived settings. Eventually, this infection will cause the tree to die, and Agarwood resin can then be chipped away, in various grades of quality, and sold. For the extraction of Oudh oil, the tree has to be alive and infected, distillation has to take place within a few months of cutting for best results. Uninfected trees have no value and is used for firewood.
View countries where different types of Aquilaria trees can be found here.
The lesser quality Agarwood has a whitish color and contains less resin. They are graded, chopped, shredded, soaked, distilled, dried, and rolled into incense sticks. The uninfected Agarwood has no scented value. Oud oil has an eccentric, as well as, acquired fragrance. It is regarded as a very sophisticated and highly prized Oudh fragrance in the Arab world.
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The name of Oudh (Agarwood) in different cultures:
- It is known as Oudh and Dehnal Oudh in the Middle Eastern countries such as United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar & Bahrain; Bakhoor in Kuwait.
- Chén-xīang in Chinese; "trầm hương" in Vietnamese, and Jin-koh in Japanese; most of these mean "sinking incense" and allude to Oudh’s high density.
- In Europe it was referred to as Lignum aquila (Eagle-wood) or Agilawood because of the similarity in sound of Agila to Gaharu. Many European branded perfume companies are using Agar wood extract oil to boost the quality of their own made perfumes.
- Another name is Lignum aloes or Aloeswood. The Aloes of the Old Testament and of the Hebrew Bible (ahalim in Hebrew) are believed to be Agarwood from Aquilaria Malaccensis.
- In Tibetan it is known as a-ga-ru. There are several varieties used in Tibetan Medicine: unique eaglewood: ar-ba-zhig; yellow eaglewood: a-ga-ru ser-po, white eaglewood: ar-skya, and black eaglewood: ar-nag.
- In Assamese it is called as "Pgoru".
- The Indonesian, Malaysia & Brunei name is "Gaharu".
- In Papua New Guinea it is called "Ghara".
- In Bangladesh & Hindi (India), it is known as "Agar", which is originally Sanskrit based.
- In Thai it is known as "Mai Kritsana or Mai Hom".
- In Laos it is known as "Mai Ketsana".
Oudh/Agarwood Oil Around the World
Aloeswood/Oudh oil is slowly making an appearance in The West where the majority of people do not know about this natural gift of nature.
The Agarwood oil termed as 'Oudh' in the Middle East is highly valued for its fragrance, it can go upto astonishingly high prices due to the level of demand that exists. It is worn on clothes and skin, mainly used by men during special occasions such as Eid and Friday prayers.
One of the most prized fragrance items in Oman is Oud, which is imported from Cambodia, India and Malaysia. It is a musky-smelling wood which may be burned or from which oil can be extracted. It is very expensive and only used on important occasions such as Eid, weddings, funerals and to celebrate the birth of a child. The Oudh oil will often be given as part of a woman's dowry, together with gold and other gifts.
Oudh is considered as a supreme fragrance in the Gulf countries. In Bahrain, Oudh is burned as a mark of respect and hospitality and is a traditional gesture of welcoming and honoring guests. In fact, Oudh is considered an important feature at most social occasions.
The wood is carved as settings for precious stones and Aloeswood is an excellent wood for sculptures and carvings In Japan, Aloeswood is used in a complex fragrance guessing game called koh-do, part of the ceremonial appreciation of incense adopted from the Chinese, who still use the expression wenxiang, "listening to the incense." Japanese Shamans use Aloeswood Oils for its psychoactive properties. They believe enhances mental clarity and opens the third eye as well as all of the upper charkas
There are many stories about Aloeswood being buried under the ground for hundreds of years. This legend comes from an old Chinese book on incense. Oudh oil is prized in China for its psychoactive properties.
Used chiefly for Incense for the Mind - during meditation, Agarwood is highly psychoactive. It is used for spiritual journey, enlightenment, clarity and grounding. Buddhists use it for transmutation of ignorance Tibetan Monks Tibetan monks use it to bring energy to the center and calm the mind and spirit.
The Sufis use Agarwood oil in their esoteric ceremonies
Practitioners Around the World
It is recommended by experienced practitioners for providing motivation and devotion to meditation. It is supposed to facilitate communication with the transcendent, refreshes the mind and body, drives away evil spirits, takes away exhaustion, removes impurities, expels negative energies, brings alertness, calms the nervous system, relieves anxiety, invokes a sense of strength and peace, creating natural order in your sacred living areas, enhances cerebral functioning, remedies nervous disorders such as neurosis, obsessive behaviour, etc., and it is a companion in solitude.
Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unanai physicians have all used Agarwood in their practice to treat various diseases as well as mental illness.
Agarwood Medicinal Uses
Stimulant, tonic, nausea, nerves, regurgitation, weakness in the elderly, aphrodisiac, diuretic, relieves epilepsy, antimicrobial, carminative (gas), smallpox, rheumatism, illness during and after childbirth, relieves spasms in digestive and respiratory systems, shortness of breath, chills, general pains, lowers fever, asthma, cancer, colic, digestive and bronchial complaints, abdominal pain, diarrhea, cirrhosis of the liver and as a director or focuser for other medicines. It has also been used as a treatment for lung and stomach tumors.
Insomnia - Valerian is a natural component of Agarwood Resin and functions to relieve insomnia and calm the nervous system before sleep, allowing one to have a deeper, longer sleep. Inhale the fragrance deeply and it will help you sleep. In some Arab cultures this is the norm before going to sleep.