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Essential Oils

Guaiacwood Essential Oil - A Sacred Wood

Scientifically known as Bulnesia Sarmientoi, guaiac trees grow wild in the area known as Gran Chaco, which covers regions of Paraguay and Argentina. The tree is an evergreen with lush growth that periodically sprouts tiny blue and white flowers, which then form yellow-orange fruit with a cherry-like appearance. The bark is smooth and thick, while the wood is incredibly hard and fragrant.

The oil from this tree has been used for hundreds of years to provide a range of health benefits to individuals living in this region, and eventually, to individuals around the world. Ultimately, it is the age of the trees that determines the potency of the essential oil’s scent.

The History of Guaiacwood

The fragrant guaiac tree found in the jungles of Latin America is the source of Guaiacwood essential oil. Known to be a sacred wood, it was once reserved strictly for use as a form of incense. Relied upon to ward off evil spirits and purify the environment, it has been commercially produced since the late 1890s.

However, it became so popular that populations of these trees reached dangerously depleted levels. Today, they are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates the trade of the plant." 1

Chemical Properties candle

The wood from the guaiac trees produces semi-solid oil or thick paste that has an earthy and smoky scent with a hint of rose. The oil itself is thick and varies in color from yellow to amber to olive green. It is extracted from wood and sawdust of the tree and must be warmed or liquefied for use. It can be used as a base or middle note in perfumes and appears in a number of pharmaceutical products including soaps, candles, incense, cosmetics, and even flavorings. 2

The benefits that Guaiacwood essential oil provides come from a combination of chemical components, primarily a range of sesquiterpenols, sesquiterpenes, and others. This includes:

    • Guaiol

    • Bulnesol

    • Alpha-Bulnesene

    • Beta-Bulnesene

    • Alpha-Guaiene

    • Guaioxide

    • Beta-Patchoulene

Most notable among these is alpha-bulnesene, which has been shown to be used as an anti-inflammatory agent. 3 Additionally, the Guaiacwood essential oil contains bulnesol, a sesquiterpenoid commonly found in herbs and spices.

One of the main components in Guaiacwood essential oil, guaiol, is a sesquiterpenoid alcohol, which is also found in cypress pine. Historically, it has been used for treating conditions ranging from coughs to constipation to arthritis pain because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. 4

Uses for Guaiacwood Essential Oil

As mentioned above, Guaiacwood essential oil has a long history of use for its health benefits, and today, it provides those benefits to individuals primarily through aromatherapy or massage treatments. Potential uses applications for Guaiacwood essential oil include:

    • Aromatherapy

    • Ayurvedic healing

    • Beauty and body products

    • Holistic treatments

    • Massage oil

    • Perfumes

Some of the health benefits that Guaiacwood essential oil provides are highlighted below:

    • Reduces inflammation

    • Relieves joint and muscle pain

    • Improves respiratory health

    • Contains antiseptic properties

    • Acts as an antioxidant

    • Provides lymphatic support

Guaiacwood Infographic

If you wish to blend it with other oils, its vanilla, rose, and smoky tones work best with chamomile, cinnamon, clove, elemi, frankincense, grapefruit, neroli, orange, patchouli, and ylang-ylang essential oils. Combining Guaiacwood essential oil with other essential oils will provide an even better-smelling blend with double the health benefits.

Because Guaiacwood essential oil usually comes as a thicker paste, it works best when heated to 104–122 degrees before use.

Safety and Precautions

As is the case with most essential oils, Guaiacwood essential oil does not have many side effects if used mindfully and correctly. Potential side effects from incorrect use include diarrhea or other intestinal problems.

Additionally, its potency can lead to irritation of the skin, so it is important to dilute it with a carrier oil like almond, jojoba, or coconut oil and conduct a patch skin test before applying the essential oil to larger areas of the body. Additionally, though it can be used to reduce some swelling, it is discouraged to use Guaiacwood essential oil on swelling caused by injuries such as scrapes and bone fractures. 5

Guaiacwood essential oil is a natural diuretic, and using this essential oil may decrease the body's ability to eliminate the compound lithium, so individuals taking lithium should consult with a physician before using Guaiacwood essential oil.

As with other essential oils, use of Guaiacwood essential oil is discouraged for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


You have now learned all about the many ways that Guaiacwood essential oil has been used for centuries, as well as the health benefits that it can provide as part of your daily routine today.

So, whether you opt to use it as incense, as a scent for the home, or as a topical remedy for a health issue, finding a good source of premium Guaiacwood essential oil will provide you with a safe and natural remedy for preventing or relieving a range of issues.

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