Gaharu (Aquilareia malaccensis) is also known as agarwood, incense wood and aloeswood. In Malaysia, the best quality of Gaharu can be found in Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia, and Kelantan and Terengganu in the Peninsular.
This intensely fragrant resinous wood is very popular as ‘the wood of the Gods’, It is because of its uses range from incense for religious ceremonies, perfume for the Arabic world, medicinal wine in Korea and ornamental functions in China. As a healthy tree the Aquilaria is worth next to nothing, but wounded its defence mechanisms produce agarwood and the tree becomes a valuable commodity. Today the range of agarwood products and their uses is seemingly endless. Natural art Solid pieces of agarwood are highly appreciated as ‘natural art’ in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Craftsmen carve raw pieces of agarwood into beautiful wooden sculptures . Agarwood is also turned into beads and bracelets. Most of the wood, however, is processed and either turned into oil which is used in perfumes and other cosmetic products, or the agarwood chips are ground into powder which is used as the raw material for incense making (and sometimes also for special cigarettes).
The oil is also used in the production of traditional medicine as anti-asthma antitoxic, antioxidant, hypertension (anti-stress), hepatitis, sirosis, diuretic, painkiller, and many other diseases.
It is because of the aromatic smell of some composition of oils as reported by some scientists there are dihydroagarofuran and isodihydroagarofuran ; sesquiterpene, agarol and a couinarinolignan, aquillochin; sesquiterpene alcohols, jinkohol II and jinkoheremol; agarospirol, jinkohol-eremol and kusenol.
This is why agarwood or gaharu so expensive. The high price of this woody species actually is corelated to the resin or so called “Gubal”. This resin looks like a dark brown to black solid lump or a chunk with a fragrant smell (if burned), which is found in the heartwood or roots of gaharu-producing trees undergoing a chemical and physical change due to fungus infection. The trees frequently become infected with a parasite fungus or mold, and begin to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. So, not all plants can produce the resin because it depends on the attack. The fungus and decomposition process continue to generate a very rich and dark resin forming within the heartwood. While the unaffected wood of the tree is relatively light in color & almost useless, the resin dramatically increases the mass and density of the affected wood, changing its color from a pale beige to dark brown or black. In natural forest only as rare as 7% of the trees are infected by the fungus in natural way. Thus, agarwood develops very, very slowly over time, typically several hundred years. However, nowadays people inpurposely develop agarwood plantation using fungi-forming gaharu injection on the hole of the trunk for fast harvest.
- Asthma, Chronic Cough, Sinus
- Chronic Fatigue
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Treats Thyroid Cancer and Lung Tumor
- Sleep Disorders (Reduces Insomnia)
For a more compelling story regarding history of Gaharu read The Hidden Story of Scented Wood