Decoding Obscure Notes Part IX-E: Medicinal Uses of Agarwood
Uses of agarwood for medicinal purposes was also passed mostly orally through generations of practitioners of TCM, Ayurveda, Unani and more recently – aromatherapy.
In Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, agarwood is used for its warming properties. In Tibetan, Ancient Greek and Arab medicine it is used for balancing. It is mainly used for ailments of the digestive and the respiratory systems.
According to Imam Bukhari, the Prophet Muhhamed said that agarwood can treat seven
diseases: "Treat with Indian incense ('oud al-Hindi), for it has healing for seven diseases; it is to be sniffed by one having throat problems, and to be put into one side of the mouth by one suffering from pleurisy."
Tibetan medicine uses agarwood to treat emotional, nervous and psychological issues, through its effect on the mind bringing it to a deep meditative state. It is also used as a local tranquilizer. Only the highest grade of agarwood (black agarwood) is used for these purposes.
Agarwood has similar uses in Japan, for its sedative properties, detoxification and fort the stomach. It is never used alone, but always blended with other ingredients, as in the patent medicine rokushingan, or the children remedy kiougan which strengthens the heart, lungs and liver, and treat sore throat because of its analgesic properties. Agarwood is used in other Japanese remedies (i.e.: Kannougan, zui-sei), but the use of all is decreasing because Western medicine have become more widely used than the traditional medicine in Japan.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), agarwood is used to relieve spasms, treat the digestive system, relieve pain, regulate the vital organs (heart, lungs, liver…), and to lower and redirect energy levels to support he kidneys. It is used to treat tightness in the chest, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and asthma.
Ayurveda uses agarwood primarily for its warming qualities and for its profound effect on the mind when burnt as incense – centering the charkas and bringing the mind into a deep meditative state. It is also used for some skin diseases, and the powdered heartwood is given for treatment of diahorrea, dysentery, vomiting and anorexia.
In Unani (Classical Greek &Arabic medicine) it is used as a “stimulant, stomachic, laxative (purgative in large doses) and as an aphrodisiac”.
In aromatherapy, agarwood is considered “purifying and balancing, relaxant, rejuvenating, transformative, clairvoyant and transcending actions”, albeit it’s important to note that because of its high price, it is rarely used in practice.