You may not be especially familiar with oud, or the benefits of Oud oil. After all, it doesn’t tend to rank with primrose, lily and ylang ylang as one of the most fragrant floral scents. Nor does it rank with lavender, tea tree or chamomile as the most useful. But, overlook oud and you could be missing out on one of the most complex and interesting scents available on the market today. Not to mention, an oil that is literally worth more than its weight in gold.
And while it may not be the most common, it lays a fair claim to having the richest history. Mentioned in the Bible, the Quran and Buddhist scriptures. people have been waxing lyrical about this deeply evocative scent for thousands of years. The Buddha reportedly claimed that burning oud (otherwise known as agarwood) conjured “the scent of Nirvana”. While other mythologies have suggested that agarwood was the only cutting that Adam was allowed to take from the garden of Eden. Whichever way you look at it, the scent and benefits of oud oil clearly has something rather special.
The distinct, raw and earthy scent has been likened to many things. It has a sweet yet sharp tang and has long been used by Sultans and royalty. Today though, it’s more likely to be the signature scent of actors and rock stars as it’s the main element in Giorgio Armani’s oud Royal and Tom Ford’s oud Wood.
Oud, roughly translating from Arabic as from wood is a fragrant, dark, resinous wood (agarwood). An oil that grows predominantly in South East Asia. Its origins are inauspicious but when the pale and healthy Aquilaria tree becomes infected with mould. It produces the dark, scented resin known as oud (sometimes named “liquid gold”). It is thought that fewer than 2% of Agarwood trees produce this resin making oud one of the most expensive fragrances in the world. What’s more, experts think true oud comes from only the oldest trees, making this rare phenomenon even rarer.
There are many varieties of oud, around 30 types in fact, and these can mostly be found in across Asia. Think India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. The natural reserves of this rare oil are naturally depleting. Arborists and foresters are stepping in to create a cultivated version which may lack the age but still maintains the rich and complex intensity.
Check out the map below to discover where oud is most commonly cultivated.
While cultivating oud may seem like the simplest option, these rare trees are notoriously difficult to grow. You’d need the climate of South East Asia, a nursery facility that is at least 1,000 metres above sea level and 4-5 years to allow it to mature. And that’s only what you need to do to grow a healthy Aquilaria tree. Modern forestry methods involve infecting the trees with fungus which is a notoriously unpredictable procedure. It is thought that the precious resin only occurs naturally on between 1-2% of them. In essence, the process of growing your own oud may be a step too far for most scent connoisseurs.
As you might expect from an oil this rich in history, the benefits of oud are many and varied. A staple in herbal medicines, herbal teas and incense, this intense oil is known to have a number of beneficial properties.
Thought to alleviate pain, oud is considered to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which could be beneficial to sufferers of arthritis. When diluted with a carrier oil and massaged into the skin, it can help to eliminate toxins and reduce swelling.
Thanks to its microbial and antibacterial properties, it could also be good for fresh breath and clear skin.
Used for centuries, oud is considered by some to be a natural aphrodisiac. In fact, it’s even mentioned in religious texts that it could be good for increasing libido.
Thought to be effective in meditation for bringing about peace and tranquillity. Oud is also considered a natural sedative that could ease stress and even regulate sleep patterns.
Agarwood tea is already widely used in Thailand and it’s growing in popularity across Europe, too. The naturally caffeine-free tea is thought to calm the mind, aid slimming and even assist in the removal of harmful toxins such as mercury. Studies show that it contains calcium, iron and zinc to name but a few.
In essence, oud is an incredibly precious resource. With deforestation, over-harvesting and habit loss, one that looks set to retain its rarity. Thankfully, the trees are now being carefully monitored throughout the South East Asian countries to maintain its survival. So this precious scent is likely to be around for years to come.
Thanks for reading our blog on the uses and benefits of oud oil. If you’re interested to try out oud scents for yourself, check out our dedicated range, here.