If you’re like me, incense lighting is a daily ritual. I come home from a exhausting day at work, make a pot of chamomile tea, and release the aromatic “Egyptian Musk” or “Amber” smoke into the air to unwind for the night. This practice is super relaxing, not to mention the scents are addictive, but coming home from the polluted air of a bustling city to a room filled with scented smoke can’t be good for respiratory health. Our lungs require fresh oxygen as much as possible. When this need isn’t met, an array of health issues can arise, from asthma flare ups to lung infections and many other annoyances you’d be wise to try and avoid.
Globally, incense burning has been practiced for thousands of years for various uses such as invoking gods, purifying the atmosphere, entering into transcendental states, and to drive away demons. With origins in Ancient Egypt, this ritual can be found today in highly spiritual places like China, India, Japan, Tibet, and even here in America.
While the exact contents of all incense aren’t fully known, most incense is made from a combination of fragrant gums, resins, wood powders, herbs and spices. This include its various forms from powder, cone, soil, and sticks. Current clinical studies have revealed many contaminants within incense smoke, including pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds, all of which wreak havoc in the body’s respiratory & nervous systems when overexposed and cause people to be at a higher risk for developing cancer in the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of overexposure include, but aren’t limited to the following: nose & throat irritation, dizziness, headaches, nausea, asthma inflammation, and weakness.
I love incense and wish to continue safely burning the herb & spice based aroma sticks for relaxation. Avoid the symptoms of chemical overexposure by opening windows up wide and turning on fans while lighting the strong smelling mixtures in your homes or sit outside while using to avoid the negative side effects, which can mimic those of inhaling second hand cigarette smoke. Practice ventilation when lighting incense and let fresh air be the main healing substance you inhale on a daily.