Agarwood Meditation Beads

The rich, dark resinous heartwood, agarwood is valued in many cultures for its uniquely potent perfume, its purported medicinal benefits and its use in spiritual practice. For thousands of years, the smoky, woody essence of oud oil and agarwood has been used as an incense in the Middle East as well as Southeast Asia.

The aromatic wood is also used to create meditation beads, particularly to inspire a sense of mindfulness in Buddhism. In fact, Lord Buddha said that the aroma of burning agarwood, “is the scent of Nirvana”. In Buddhist scriptures it notes that burning incense is a way of casting bad luck asunder.

The precious wood, produced from a mold infecting the light-colored evergreen Aquilaria trees is also mentioned in ancient oral texts, the Vedas Sanskrit; the primary language of Hinduism. The cultural importance of agarwood and oud oil still permeates traditions today and is held in high regard.

In Christianity too, agarwood is alluded to in texts in the Old Testament in regard to the Garden of Eden. Within many religious ceremonies and rituals from Taoism to Catholicism and Islam, there are references and practices using the resin and oil.

Agarwood, which is the only wood that sinks in water, is made into malas which are meditation beads worn round the wrist or hung round the neck. Most malas have either 108 beads and a so-called guru bead at the top, and are used to recite mantras, recount deities and in chanting.

There are various explanations to account for the number of beads, from the number of energy lines in the body connecting chakras to being the number of steps on the road to enlightenment. The mala is often held in the hand, always the right hand, and the beads moved like rosary beads during meditation. As the skin warms the beads, the resin exudes a wonderfully earthy, musky perfume. This type of meditation is known as ‘japa mala’ in Sanskrit. In Hare Krishna practice, the beads represent the names of the 108 gopis or followers of Vrindavan and reciting these names is part of a sacred ceremony.  In Islamic rituals, there are typically 99 or 33 prayer beads.

Agarwood has been used to create spiritual sculptures and carvings too. Believed to be the oldest wooden statue in Taiwan, the famed Penglai Lao-tsu in Qingshui Zushi Temple is made from a single piece of agarwood.

Used to stimulate mental clarity and instil a feeling of inner peace and harmony, agarwood is utilized by Tibetan monks and many other religious figures from Muslims to Shamans. The restorative powers of the wood and oud oil are believed to inspire spiritual journeys and enlightenment; releasing negative emotions and bringing about a state of higher consciousness plus a greater feeling of connectedness.

Qi refers to life’s natural energy force underlying Traditional Chinese Medicine and religious beliefs. In Feng Shui, it is believed that agarwood can be used to energize a room’s stagnant energy flow and is a divine source of Qi. 


The Power of Relaxation with Oud Oil

Mysterious and mystical, the essence of oud oil’s potent perfume, its cultural heritage and its resonance within spiritual beliefs evokes a richly enticing and intriguing sense of wonder for this so-called ‘liquid gold’.
Renowned for its purported therapeutic properties and used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, oud oil has long-been regarded for its power to relax the mind, body and inner-being; a psychological salve that inspires calm, clarity and a sense of renewed power.

A powerful scent to stimulate and relax
Oud oil is used as a fragrance, for both men and women, as an alternative medicinal ingredient in both oil and powder form and as an incense. Agarwood chips, from which oud oil is extracted, create a heady scent that inspires a feeling of deep relaxation. It is this soothing, yet stimulating effect that makes oud oil increasingly popular in spa products; rich, luxurious and with deep layers of woody, earthy and exotic scents.

Why oud oil is a modern-day anxiety-relieving must-have
Stress levels are rising, creating health crises as well as adding a burden to the quality of lives of those affected and their ability to work and function. Relaxation is no longer considered an indulgence but a necessity to inspire balance, leading to a positive mindset and a healthy approach to life. Stress is a huge contributing factor behind a multitude of health problems. The need to unwind and let the commotion and physical, mental and emotional strains of modern-day existence dissipate is about taking positive action.

Relaxation is not about doing nothing per se, but a process to induce a less frenetic inner energy. Oud Oil is a way in which individuals can harness that priceless feeling of peace.

The potential relaxation properties of oud oil
The unique potency of oud oil is often regarded as allowing the mind to become calm and release negative emotions. Not only is this a way to instil a feeling of being at one with yourself but a way to energize consciousness levels and open the mind to greater creative thinking.

A meditative approach
A good anti-stress approach is to let go of feelings about the past and worries about the future by living in the present. One way to achieve this mindfulness is through quiet meditation with an oud oil scent permeating the atmosphere. A soothing burner of oud oil or some oil applied to the pulse points in a perfume or carrier oil instantly produces a dreamy, relaxed state in which the mind can wander and find its own sense of time and place.  From top athletes, to business leaders and those seeking spiritual solace oud oil complements meditative practices.

Oud oil and the mind

With a reputation for easing neuroses in favor of harmony, agarwood is used widely in the power of prayer with a belief that the incense rises along with the words to another spiritual level; connecting thought with feelings and energy with moods; calming the spirit and balancing the whole being. 


Healthy Eating for a Happy Working Life

Treedom is encouraging employees in Thailand to eat well to work well and to live well; following a healthier diet and lifestyle to enjoy your working life more and be part of a strong, energized team.

A bad diet can not only negatively impact your work, it can seriously impact your health and the health of the company you work for. What you eat, how, and when is interrelated to every aspect of your life and a good diet can greatly improve your quality of life too.

 It is estimated that unhealthy eating, whether too much of the wrong foods or too little of the right foods, costs around 20% in lost productivity globally. Companies with unhealthy staff are more than 2.5 times more likely to have a high absenteeism rate through unplanned sick leave.

With today’s busy lifestyles, it is easy to skip meals, load up on sugary snacks and high-fat bites as well as binge eat at your desk. Lack of exercise with sedentary jobs only add to the problem.

The temptation to not eat healthily is huge in Thailand, with stalls selling deep-fried and sugary snacks available all day, pretty much every day on every street in Bangkok. With the climate so hot, it is also easy to fill up on sugar and calories with chilled drinks alone.

The negative effects of an unhealthy diet
You only have to take a look around to see that growth of fast foods is having a dramatic impact on the waistlines of those who overindulge in Thailand. Did you know that Thailand is ranked second in Southeast Asia for levels of obesity? The issue is not about how you look, but what is happening inside and the increased risk of diet-related illness.

At work, a bad diet can be part of many problems including performance, stress, morale and safety, not to mention your long-term health. Think about that awful sugar-crash in the afternoon and how the day slows down and work becomes more difficult.

The reality is that your attitude to food can be the solution.

Bad diet excuses – don’t use them!
It is easy to find reasons to justify, at least to yourself internally, why you cannot or do not eat more healthily. If you are using these bad diet excuses then STOP.

·         I’m too busy to eat properly!
Everyone is busy, you need to make time for meal break and don’t just sit in front of a screen and quickly eat whatever is nearby without thinking.

·         I’m young with a high metabolism so it is okay to eat junk food!
You could still be damaging your health and you are creating bad habits that may be difficult to break as you get older.

·         I’m on a diet so I prefer snacks to big meals!
Snacking can lead to weight gain, especially if you are starving your body and then binge eating.

·         Everyone else is eating the same foods!
There are also many people who choose grilled rather than deep-fried foods and who are health-conscious.

·         I don’t know what is healthy and what isn’t!
Educate yourself!

How to eat healthily

Many foods in Thailand have hidden sugars and are saturated with oil too. To kickstart your ‘eat well, work well and live well’ lifestyle for a healthier Treedom Team follow these top healthy diet tips:

·         Less sugary drinks. Stay refreshed with water and iced Chinese tea rather than iced coffees, lemon teas and red sodas that are packed with sugar. If you do want to treat yourself then ask for less sugar.

·         Say no to MSG and cut back on sugar and oil. Request foods without MSG and also ask for less oil and less sugar. Next time you order a Pad Thai look at how much sugar and oil is added. A good tip is to opt for freshly cooked foods or look for a source of healthy clean foods.

·         Healthy Team snacks only. Cut back on snacks and come to work armed with healthy goodies – fruit, nuts and raw carrot sticks. Make a rule as a Team that together you will stop snacking and create a healthier work environment.

·         Think about portion size. Remember the golden rule that vegetables should make up half your plate with protein making up a quarter and carbs the final quarter. Rice is a high GI (Glycaemic Index) food and so releases large amounts of sugar into the bloodstream – giving a sugar high. The problem with this is after a high comes a massive dip in energy!

·         Explore new foods. There is a lot of food on the streets and in small restaurants in Bangkok so don’t just stick to the same choices. Steamed fish and soups with white radish could be healthier than your usual go-to choices.

·         Look at other lifestyle choices. Other decisions you make in life can impact your diet. Be active, cut out bad habits and start to take control of what you eat, how you work and the way in which you live your life!

With clean food a real trend in Bangkok, there is a growing interest and awareness, especially amongst the city’s young workers in eating a better diet too.


Oud Oil Hair Care

Whilst in the West perfumes may be dabbed onto pulse points such as the wrists, the art of applying fragrance in the Middle East is far more layered and all encompassing. Oud Oil, with its musky scent is not only used in perfumes and colognes for the skin but the hair and even beards are infused with the aroma.  In many ways, this is similar to a body mist that is often sprayed and then ‘walked into’ covering the whole body, including the hair.

Bakhoor for the body and hair
Agarwood incense chips are often burnt so that the smoky aroma permeates the whole body, from head to toe. This so-called ‘bakhoor’ is a cultural ritual and perfume is then added to the body too. Scents on the hair and also the clothes may not be as heavy or as heavily applied as on the body. The idea is that the aromas complement rather than battle against each other. 

Oud Oil perfumes, colognes and spa products
Oud Oil is fast-becoming popular with mainstream perfumers to add an exotic, complex note to men’s, women’s and unisex scents. It is also becoming more widely used in spa products such as Australian brand Sodashi and this extends to toiletries such as haircare ranges.

Beautiful beards
Agadir MEN brought out their first line for men incorporating the heady notes of oud wood to, “emit and aura of attraction and success”, which reflects the powerful, masculine aroma of the oil. It is based in a hair wash and a beard oil that aims to moisturize and soften whiskers. Other brands of beard oil containing oud include Tom Ford and Hamilton Jackson.

Glossy locks
PHILIP B Forever Shine Shampoo and Forever Shine Conditioner also contain the, “light, seductive scent of pure Oud”, as do curl-enhancer, styling and heat-protection products. The warm notes of Oud Oil really add an element of exotic luxury to any product and with smooth, glossy locks it seems natural that hair should be scented too.

Holistic scent for hair and mind
Fragrances are not only about creating a scent for others but also for yourself. The calming, anti-stress qualities of Oud Oil can be soothing and whilst the aroma is powerful it can also be incredibly soft on the senses too rather than overpowering.

Oud Oil is also used therapeutically and in Traditional Chinese Medicine with one of its properties being its antiseptic quality. This makes it an ideal ingredient in cosmetics and haircare products, especially those that use organic or natural ingredients and not alcohol and lots of chemicals. The antiseptic is beneficial to the health of the scalp and can also help clean the hair that inevitably gets full of pollutant and irritants from the modern world.

Oud Oil is long lasting and hydrates the hair as well as acting like a serum to inspire soft, velvety tresses rather than frizzy, dried out hair that can not only look bad but can be incredibly aging too. 


Time for Agarwood Tea

A cup of tea is refreshing and can do you the world of good, especially if it is made from the leaves of one of Asia’s healing trees. The Agarwood tree truly is a wonder of nature; from its heady Oud Oil resinous scent popular in perfumes and colognes to shavings and tinctures used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the incredible healing properties of Agarwood are well reported and are being continuously scientifically explored.
Agarwood tea is an elixir of wellness and a brew of bountiful goodness that inspires wellbeing. Every element of Agarwood and Oud Oil seems to beckon further investigation and the deep heritage of therapeutic use provides an incredible amount of evidence about many purported health benefits.
Modern lifestyles and pollutants attack the body and indeed the mind, creating disease and health problems along the way. Alongside the spectacular advancements of medicine, there has been a growing interest in the power of plants and natural ingredients, many of which, like Agarwood, have been used for thousands of years in complementary health therapies.

Agarwood tea is a natural antioxidant and detoxifier
Oxidants can lead to age-related illnesses as well as aging the skin. The use of Agarwood in the fight to prevent diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s is being investigated while the antioxidant agent found within Agarwood has been proven.

Diet and environment lead to the build-up of toxins and this can negatively impact your health, how you feel and indeed, how you look. Agarwood tea hydrates, is used to stimulate metabolism and aides in the reduction of body weight and potentially fat too. The brew is also used to treat constipation and there is study evidence that the tea can reduce blood glucose levels and help in the fight against diabetes.
Alongside this, the antibacterial agents and diuretic properties within the tea cleanse the body; flushing out and eliminating harmful toxins. It is purported that agarwood tea can help get rid of mercury in the body, a poisonous element that is not expelled naturally and which can cause many neurological problems if levels become high.
Alcohol is also eliminated by the tea, making agarwood a natural instant hangover cure or for longer use as part of a lifestyle choice. The overall impact is to increase energy levels and this can also play a part in combating chronic fatigue and give the body a boost to recuperate after an illness.

Agarwood tea is a feel-good pain and fever reliever
Analgesic and antipyretic properties of agarwood tea help reduce discomfort and high temperatures naturally. The smooth taste and wonderfully gentle aroma of agarwood tea calms the senses and induces a feeling of calm that instantly reduces stress and anxiety levels.

Caffeine-free and with no sugar, the tea is known for increasing circulation and can be a great nightcap to help promote a restful sleep and combat insomnia. Headaches are also helped due to the pain-relief effect too.
Reducing inflammation, relieving pain and having a good night’s sleep creates a feeling of balance within and this is further stimulated by Agarospirol in the Agarwood leaves which acts as a mood enhancer. The anti-anxiety properties of the tea and Agarwood in general are well-documented and in many cultures Agarwood is a natural treatment for depression.

It is because of the impact on the whole body and the mind, which is so intrinsically linked to physical health, that gives Agarwood tea its special quality as a truly holistic brew. Sipping several Agarwood teas a day as a general habit is believed to support the digestive system, immune system, circulatory system and the central nervous system; a cup brimming full of wellness and natural wonder. 


Agarwood in Traditional Chinese Medicine

For thousands of years, agarwood, known as chen xiang (沉香) and Oud Oil have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); a physical and mental curative ingredient rated extremely highly for its holistic effects on the body and mind.  The sheer number of ailments that are increasingly treated with the use of agarwood resin and oud oil is impressive and the wood is highly revered within Chinese medicine.

So deeply ingrained is agarwood as a potent, almost magical ingredient into the psyche of traditional Chinese culture that it is believed that Samurais would use the perfume on their armor to bring good luck before going to battle.

As well as TCM, agarwood is valued by many alternative medicinal practitioners in ayurvedic, Tibetan and Arabic medicine.

From Damage Comes Healing
Interestingly, the healing properties of agarwood derive from a fungus or mold infection of the aquilaria tree. Without this attack, the trees are virtually worthless but once invaded they produce a rich resin as a defense in the heartwood of the tree. This dense resinous wood which is dark brown is transformed into an incredibly valued and valuable commodity.  

In nature only a small percentage of trees are infected and only a percentage of those produce the resin. However, demand can be met with the growth of plantations such as Treedom’s trees in Thailand, with a ready market within China and beyond.

The Qi Connection
In traditional Chinese culture, Qi (pronounced ‘Chi’) is the life flow of energy through the body and in TCM is regarded as the vital energy that relates to the function of the organs and the meridians. The meridian system denotes the path through which Qi flows and it is believed that agarwood enhances Qi by penetrating and stimulating the senses and has a spiritual quality. In Feng Shui, the art of controlling and directing the flow of energy and the fragrance of agarwood is believed to energize stagnant Qi within buildings and rooms too.

By promoting the circulation of QI, TCM uses agarwood to treat a number of different symptoms which particularly relate to the meridians that are connected to the stomach, spleen and kidneys.

Medicinal Properties
Oud oil is used in traditional medicine in China as a tonic, stimulant and even an aphrodisiac as well as a treatment for impotence. Many abdominal conditions are treated using agarwood including indigestion problems and even stomach tumors.

 Agarwood is used as an anti-asthma medicine and pleurisy antidote as well as being valued as a pain and stress reliever along with an aid in treating neuro-muscular conditions. As a tonic, agarwood is used to address blood impurities and has been used to tackle hepatitis and anemia too.

Skin complaints, common colds and urine problems such as bed wedding and urine infections can also be helped with the use of agarwood according to TCM. Agarwood remedies are prescribed for issues as diverse as fatigue, hypertension and cirrhosis of the liver and for various ailments the agarwood is combined with herbs to target specific illnesses and diseases.

Much research has looked into the antibacterial properties of agarwood and how it could help target mycobacterium tuberculosis, for example. Whilst on a psychological level, the oil extracted from agarwood is believed to be a rescue remedy that can influence brainwaves with a soothing, harmonizing effect.

Chinese Market
Within China, Oud Oil as a fragrance is attracting huge attention and agarwood, which is some 35 times more expensive than gold per gram, is fast-becoming an investment for the luxury Chinese market.  Wood shavings and particularly wood powder as well as the oil are used in TCM and this is extending into more modern Chinese pharmacopeia.

As a luxury item, high-profile attention has promoted the fragrance and agarwood too. Well-known Chinese TV host Wang Yinan who is the director of the national Chen Xiang Research Association has pushed agarwood into the limelight and under the noses of China’s elite and they are certainly following the heady scent.

Wealthy Gen Y buyers who value experiences rather than merely accruing assets and within Chinese culture there is an ingrained understanding and appreciation of less traditional medicines and of natural ingredients. The scent from fragrances and the resin burnt as incense along with the special properties of agarwood have captivated the Chinese market. Add to this a progressive acceptance into mainstream medicine of TCM and China is set to become an agarwood capital, not only within Southeast Asia but globally.