Breu Claro – The Brazilian Frankincense
Trees are wonderful creatures. They give us a cool and soothing shade. They give us beauty and comfort. Some give an uplifting floral fragrance. And one, in particular, gives us a sticky gooey resin that becomes a deliciously fragrant incense known as Breu Claro.
All in the Family
Breu Claro incense comes from the resin of the Amazonian Proteum heptaphyllum tree. There are quite a few species of Proteum which produce resins and these other trees’ resins are used for incense too. In fact, Breu Claro, Breu Branco, and Copal Blanco, other resin incenses, all come from trees in the Burseraceae family. And if this family ever had a reunion, Palo Santo, Frankincense and Myrrh trees would be in attendance.
Breu’s resin has some of the same therapeutic and aromatic properties as its cousins since it belongs to the same botanical family. Popularly, the tree is known as Breu, but if there is confusion as to who’s who at that family reunion, it would be with good cause. This tree is also known as Almécega, Amesla, Almécega Brava, Breuzinho, Witch Herb, White Pitch of the Field, Mescla, Brazilian Myrrh, and a few others. Identifying name tags would certainly be helpful at such a gathering.
Shades of Gray
Breu resin is widely used by the Amazonian natives, generally in Brazil, in local folk medicine and in spiritual rituals. Depending on the variety of the tree, age, and other factors, the resin can present in a few shades: a dark, grayish color, almost black, and lighter whitish. The lighter versions are Breu Claro or Breu Branco. The name of black Breu is Breu Negro.
Old & New World Resins
According to some, the oldest known use of plant resins comes from the late Middle Stone Age in Southern Africa where they were used as adhesives to apply handles to stone tools. Much later, the mention of plant resins appeared in the writings of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, especially frankincense and myrrh. These two were highly prized substances and required in some religious rites. Across the ocean in the New Americas, especially Meso and South America, it was the cousin counterparts, Breu and Copal, which were discovered and used. Both continue to be used in religious and sacred ceremonies today.
Aromatic Properties of Breu Claro
Breu Claro resin has a fresh, clean, purifying scent with hints of lemon and pine. It is a commonly referred to as “Brazilian Frankincense”. Due to its aromatic property, the essential oil is widely used in perfumes an soaps. You can carry a piece of the resin or put it in drawers for a soothing scent that lasts. Yet the uses of Breuzinho go beyond smelling good and have been used in sacred practices.
The scent of fragrant tree resins is used for spiritual and healing, aesthetic, and practical purposes. Breu Claro is no exception. According to Evan Sylliaasen, one of the co-founders of Higher Mind Incense, “Different species of copal have been burned in rituals in Mexico and Central America since the time of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. In South America, other types of copal, resin from the Palo Santo tree, and other resins [such as Breu] and plant gums have been used in shamanic and traditional healing practices for accompanying prayer, smudging or cleansing energies, spiritual purification, and many other sacred purposes.” Some say Breu is “the incense resin of choice for practitioners of the Ayahuasca ceremony. They appreciate it for how it calms the soul and opens the way for creativity and deep exploration.”
The wafting smoke from the burning resin is said to repel mosquitos and evil spirits as well. Breu is said to raise the vibrancy of both the surrounding environment and the people who breathe in its aroma. Its smoke is especially recommended for times of changes, renovations, the start of new projects or completion of cycles.
On the subtle plane, Breuzinho acts in the unconscious, in dreams and in the mystical region of the brain. The resin is also used as incense for removing negative energies and leaving the environment harmonious and healthy. Breuzinho smoke encourages a space for receptivity and reflection.
The Doctor is In
Breu Claro is associated with a raft of medicinal uses, whether from the smoke of the burned resin, as an infusion of tree bark or as a syrup. For respiratory ailments, it has a cleansing and purging effect on the lungs, and it can be used in the treatment of colds, coughs, bronchitis, pulmonary pain, asthma, sinusitis, obstructions of the pathways and rhinitis. It is said to facilitate breathing and soothe cases of flu, laryngitis and act as an expectorant.
As an analgesic, it is said to offer pain relief for twisting, bruising and banging the muscles.
It is helpful for certain gastro-protective ailments such as easing stomach aches as well as headaches. As an anti-inflammatory, it eases arthritis, bursitis, and rheumatism. And as an antiseptic, it helps in cleaning and preventing infections.
For cutaneous treatments, it is helpful in maintaining skin health by moisturizing, rejuvenating and repairing the skin. It treats skin injuries, itching, insect bites, and dermatitis. And some say Breu has hepato-protective properties, offering relief from liver malfunction.
Mindfulness and Emotional Support
For conditions associated with the mind, Breu is said to have a powerful effect on enhancing concentration, focus and organizing thoughts. It can be mentally revitalizing, easing restless states and stress, improving mental acuity and promoting calm and inner tranquility. It is said to sometimes be used as an antidepressant and a sedative.
Helpful in balancing emotions, Breu helps strengthen the nervous system and reduces anxiety and tension, increases motivation, and boosts confidence. It is also said to stimulate creativity, is grounding and calming, raising the vibrancy of both the environment and the people who breathe in its aroma. As an incense, it is especially recommended for changes, renovations, the start of new projects or completion of cycles.