Raw oud, which is wood from the oud tree, is used as incense and its oil, called dehn al-oud,is used as a perfume. Oud takes 300 years to form in the trunks of trees contaminated by a certain bacteria.
Since the oud tree is not grown anywhere except in limited parts of Asia, the price of the wood and its oil extracts has remained high. Traditionally, India has been one of the largest producers of oud.
The best quality oud breaks easily and contains water. This variety will give off the best fragrance when burned and can be recognized by the bubbles that appear. When burned over hot coal, solid oud releases a stronger, but pleasing fragrance.
Saudi Arabia is the principle importer of Oud but the oil is prized throughout south Asia. Oud is also used as part of the celebrations following Ramadan and the Hajj.
During Ramadan (the Muslim holy month of fasting), some Saudi families burn oud each night after breaking their fast and washing, and before going to the mosque to perform the evening prayer.
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Pure Essential Oils
The term oil in "essential oils" is not truly accurate but a traditional term. Essential oils are very volatile fragrances that easily evaporate and very different in character from oils such as olive oil or safflower oil.
Essential oils are complex mixtures of plant produced chemicals - essential lavender oil has more than 50 plant chemicals.
Pure essential oils are expensive and must be obtained from reputable sources. Adulteration of essential oils is very common since a product like rose oil yields just 0.2% essential oil.
While the finest natural French lavender oils harvested in the Haute Provence are up to 70% linalyl acetate, many lavender oils from France have higher levels of linalyl acetate but such oil is fortified with synthetic products and may have no traces of natural lavender. Sandalwood oil can be adulterated with diverse oils such as caster, palm and linseed.
Essential oils are remarkably free of side effects - which is reflected by their long use by humans. Some persons may have allergies to oils such as cinnamon oil and juniper berry oil but we do not use these oils.
The best pheromone products consist of essential oils.
Skin Health and Essential Oils
Surprisingly, many of the traditional mood altering essential oils also have been historically used for skin care.
Patchouli has also been used as an anti-inflammatory and an aid for dry, cracked skin.
Oil of lavender has soothing effects on the skin and was used on wounds in ancient Greece and Rome and still is today.
Sandalwood has been used for skin regeneration, and to treat acne, dry skin, rashes, chapped skin, eczema, itching and sensitive skin.
Ylang Ylang has been used to treat eczema, acne, oily skin, and irritation associated with insect stings or bites.
Auguste Galopin in "The Perfume of Women and the Sense of Smell in Love"
Culter WB, Friedmann E, & McCoy NL, Pheromonal influences on sociosexual behavior in men, Archives of Sexual Behavior. 1997;27(1):1-13.
Cohn BA, In search of human skin pheromones, Arch Dermatol. 1994;130(8):1048-51.
Singer AG, A chemistry of mammalian pheromones, J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1991; 39(4B):627-32.
Nicoli RM & Nicoli JM, Biochimie de l'Eros, Contracept Fertil Sex. 1995;23(2):137-44.
Sobel N, Prabhakaran V, Hartley CA, Desmond JE, Glover GH, Sullivan EV, & Gabrieli JD, Blind smell: brain activation induced by an undetected air-borne chemical, Brain. 1999;122( Pt 2):209-17.
Porter RH & Winberg J, Unique salience of maternal breast odors for newborn infants, Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999;23(3):439-49.
Winberg J & Porter RH, Olfaction and human neonatal behavior: clinical implications, Acta Paediatr 1998;87(1):6-10.
Kohl JV & Franceour RT, The Scent of Eros (Continuum Publishing) 1995. This is a very excellent book for the general public on pheromones and behavior.