Burning incense can cause respiratory problems

 Incense sticks found more toxic than cigarettes! Houseplants are the best solution for indoor fragrance!

It is the time of the day the only thing you want to do is to relax. You need a detox moment to unwind from a stressful day and calm your body and mind. You light candles, burn stick incense and you are ready to relax listening to calming music and smelling the sense of sandalwood, which fills in the entire place. What an ambiance, eh?

Well, it could be better, if your lungs hadn’t absorbed the dangerous and toxic chemicals contained in the incense stick you burned! 

Burning incense is not something new. It was a common practice for the big ancient civilizations of Greece, Egypt and India to burn plant materials in their healing ceremonies or as gifts to Gods. Thousands of years later, many religions still burn incense in churches or homes to purify the place from bad vibes. They are also used in yoga practices. However, recent researches have shown that the burning of incense, no matter how “natural” it is, it can cause various problems to human’s health, from respiratory inflammation to lung cancer – tobacco plant is also ”natural” but smoking the leaves causes lung cancer!

The scientific test

The University of Technology of South China conducted a test comparing the effects of incense – smoke and cigarette smoke to body cells and their findings were tellingly. According to their report,

Incense smoke  was found to be more mutagenic, cytotoxic and genetoxic than the cigarette smoke tested in the study. This means it contains chemical properties that can change genetic material, such as DNA in cells, and therefore cause mutations…Moreover, mutagenics, genotoxins and cytotoxins have all been linked to the development of cancershttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3210400/Could-incense-toxic-cigarette-smoke-burn-sticks-release-compounds-linked-cancer.html

Other scientists made a detailed analysis of the compounds, which are released in the air while the incense stick is burning. They totally found 64 chemical compounds; three of them highlighted as the most toxic: carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde. A simple search of these chemicals on Wikipedia shows that

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may resemble other types of poisonings and infections such as headache, nauses, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and a feeling of weakness…

Sulfur dioxide is a toxic gas with a pungent, irritating smell. It is a major air pollutant and has significant impacts upon human health. Inhaling sulfur dioxide is associated with increased respiratory symptoms and disease, difficulty in breathing, and premature death.

Formaldehyde is one of the most common indoor air pollutants. At concentrations above 0.1 ppm in air, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes, resulting in watery eyes. Formaldehyde inhaled in this concentration may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, difficulty in breathing and, can trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms. A recent review of studies has shown a strong association between exposure to formaldehyde and the development of childhood asthma. Starting December 2007, the European Union  banned the use of formaldehyde due to its carcinogenic properties as a biocide.

The bottom line: Three hours of breathing incense smoke are enough to cause an inflammatory response in your lungs

Change the toxic incense sticks with fragrant houseplants

Did you know that growing houseplants is the easiest way to clean the air in the house?

Benefits from growing houseplants

  • They make breathing easier as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen
  • They prevent air dryness because they release moister vapor
  • They remove toxins from the air up to 87% according to NASA research
  • They diminish fatigue and anxiety in people, according to a research conducted in hospital rooms
  • They increase mental focus due to the oxygen circulation on the room
  • They decorate the house naturally

The Best houseplants to transform your place into a relaxing paradise

Scented Geraniums: you will find them in different colors, sizes and shapes. Each one of them also has a different scent. The geraniums spread their scent through tiny glands on the topside of the leaves. Rubbing or touching these will open them up and a scented oil will be released. Among other things, the plant has essential oils which have an anti-bacterial effect and reduce coughing!

Gardenia: a strongly scented plant wich grows up to 1 meter tall. It has broadened dark green leaves and small white flowers. It scent is more intense during the night.


Mint: is there anything more refreshing than mint? Take this superb plant at home and enjoy the fresh scent spreading all over the place. Rich, evergreen leafs cover all the plant. Remember to use its leaves for making a nice cup of tea, enhance your food with its taste or give your cold lemonade an even more fresh touch! Mint is the perfect healer for stomachaches!

Orange Blossom: the most used fragrant flower in perfume making, ever! Intense, fresh and…orange scented! Among other things, the plant is thought to bring good fortune in married couples. It is said that, in Spain people use the dry blossoms to make an aphrodisiac tea…

Madagascar Jasmin: scented and attractive blossoms are the best part of this climbing plant. You can use it either inside or outside and infuse your early mornings and late nights with an air from Madagascar!


Rose Begonia: it is easy to grow up, with beautiful ever blooming fragrant pink flowers. It is a perfect plant for hanging on the walls. It doesn’t like cold weather and during growing season needs pruning.


Can you think of anything more relaxing and  healthier than bringing nature at home?

Remember…No manufactured product can copy nature’s beauty and benefits!

Sotia Bella