The Incredible Healing Power of Palo Santo

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It's not news that we at Holistic Spaces love to use palo santo as a space clearing tool during feng shui adjustments and in general, but what's so special about this South American material that makes it so popular for this use and others? As it turns out, palo santo isn't just a better smelling alternative to sage smudging. Its meaning and uses have rich history and have been around for centuries. 

Palo santo, scientifically called Bursera graveolens after the tree from which it is derived, is a Spanish term meaning "holy wood." The Bursera graveolens tree grows in various parts of the South American coast, including Mexico, Ecuador and Peru's Yucatan Peninsula, and one of the things I love most about this tool is that it can only be harvested from dead trees or fallen limbs. The Peruvian government even has regulations to ensure this sustainable measure!

Palo santo has been used in spiritual ceremonies for years by folk practitioners and shamans and is widely recognized for its spiritual connections. The smoke of palo santo during a space clearing ceremony is thought to enhance creativity, bring good fortune, clear negative thoughts and evil spirits, and raise vibration. In fact, it is also used with meditation for all these reasons!  

While it is often used as a space clearing technique and insect repellant, the properties of palo santo are also beneficial in essential oil form. Palo santo is from the same family as frankincense and myrrh and can be helpful in treating colds, flu symptoms, depression and even some cancer symptoms. It is known for stimulating the immune system and fighting inflammation and, in Peruvian tradition, is used as a powerful oil for mental clarity 

Burned palo santo sticks can be reused (green living, anyone?), and the essential oils can be diffused or applied to the body directly with a carrier oil and as massage oil. It seems that the perks and uses for palo santo may be near endless! Have you used the sticks or oil in your holistic spaces?

by Anjie Cho

Marble Countertops: Are They Right for You?

Crisp. Cool. Distinctive. Elegant. If those words are describing countertops, we must be talking about white marble. Marble is a timeless classic that is right at home in a wide range of décor styles and rooms. Whether you’re looking to finish off your kitchen, upgrade your bathroom or incorporate a workstation in a home office, marble should be on your list for consideration. Like any material, marble has its pros and cons. 


  • Classic beauty – Marble is the Audrey Hepburn of countertops: classic, timeless beauty that exudes sophistication. It’s the only natural stone that comes in bright, crisp white, with or without grey veins running through it.
  • It’s got personality - As a natural stone, marble offers a unique, “no-two-are-alike” style that will give your countertop its own distinctive flair. Marble doesn’t conduct heat. It’ll remain cool to the touch, a welcome feature in kitchens and spa-like bathrooms alike. With age, marble takes on a patina. If you’re intrigued by a surface that tells the story of its lifespan with you, then marble is a terrific choice. 
  • Affordable – Unless you’re selecting a more rare variety of marble, this natural stone tends to be within a price range that's comparable to other countertop options. In some cases, it’s even more affordable than other natural stones. 


  • It’s a softy – The same thing that gives aged marble a story to tell may be a turn-off for some. Simply put, marble is prone to staining and scratching. Even with regular sealing, marble may show traces of the red wine you once spilled in the kitchen or hints of your favorite shade of blush on the bathroom counter.

Tips for living with marble

If the pros outweigh the cons for you (and for so many of us they do!), take note of these general maintenance tips:

  • Seal your marble and reseal it at least once a year (or sooner in high use areas). A sealer doesn’t mitigate stains and scratches, but it does give you some time to respond. A splash of wine on a well-sealed countertop that’s wiped up in due time might never leave a clue that it was there. 
  • Be gentle when cleaning. If you wouldn’t wash your hands with it, don’t use it on your marble. Avoid acidic cleaners and abrasive cleaners or pads. Marble prefers mild soaps (such as dish detergent) and warm water with a cloth or sponge. Need something a little tougher? Look for a natural stone cleaner.
  • When you’re choosing your marble countertop, opt for polished finishes over honed. Polished is more stain resistant, whereas honed is more porous and prone to staining. 

If your idea of the perfect countertop is one that retains the pristine, glossy shine from the day you bought it, then marble isn’t the right choice. Conversely, if you are attracted to a countertop loaded with unique character and beauty, classic marble may be for you!

by Anjie Cho