Legend has it that when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, they were allowed to take with them but one item.
It was a branch from an Aquilaria tree, within which lay one of the most remarkable natural substances known to man.
The resinous heartwood, variously known as agarwood, gaharu Oudh and Oud, has been revered by civilisations, religions and cultures for thousands of years – for its health-giving properties and positive psychoactive effects.
The scientific community is now waking up to what the Ancients have known for millennia – that Oud is extraordinary in its complexity; elemental in its structure, and possessing a power and potential that science is finally beginning to reveal.
Cited in the world’s oldest written texts, the Sanskrit Vedas, and mentioned on numerous occasions in the Bible (Testaments Old and New) and the Holy Quran, Oud (sometimes spelled ‘Oudh’) has been around since the beginning of time.
It can be burnt from its aromatic smoke that rises to the heavens creating an earthly-spiritual link, used as incense, carved into fragrant sculptures, or distilled into an essential oil that is one of the most precious and valuable in the world today.
Oud oil is distilled from the inner heartwood of certain species of the Aquilaria tree – a species placed on the CITES’ (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) list at the end of the 20th Century.
The Aquilaria species has been in decline for many years – due to rapacious over-logging, much of which has supplied the illegal trade in the highly-valued commodity.
The Aquilaria tree develops the resinous heartwood in response to ‘infection’ – and this could be anything from a microorganism, to a fungus, to a lightning strike. Unfortunately, only approximately 7% of trees in the wild develop the resin naturally, while infection is not superficially obvious.
This has resulted in a decimation of the species, as trees are felled indiscriminately in the unscrupulous hunt for the inner cargo, with little regard to the future stocks in the wild. Intervention was required, and CITES has stepped into the breach in efforts to protect existing stocks. All Oud and agarwood that is traded globally now requires certification and approval from CITES, although it hasn’t completely stamped out illegal, black market trade.
The situation, fortunately, is changing, with responsible, sustainable plantation management companies reintroducing the species in the wild, utilising proprietary and often patented technologies to ensure that Oud will be available for future generations.
All the Oud used in the Oud Essentials range of products is sustainably sourced, of known provenance, CITES approved and with attendant respect for the environment and the communities who work within it.