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Botanical Name: Aquilaria malaccensis
Species: A. malaccensis
Synonym: Aquilaria agallocha roxb
Common Names:Agarwood, Oud, Oodh or Agar,Lignum Aloe, Aguru, Ch’En Hsiang, Ch’Ing Kuei Hsiang, Chan Hsiang, Chen Xiang, Chi Ku Hsiang, Huang Shu Hsiang
Bengali/Vernacular Name: Agar, Agru
Habitat : It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. It is threatened by habitat loss
Aquillaria agallocha is a moderate-size evergreen tree with a conical crown when young. Height of this plant is around 60-80 feet and leaves 5-8.7 cm long, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate. Flowers rather small, greenish on shortly peduncled umbels, arising laterally from the younger branches. Capsules 3.7-5 cm, obovate-cuneate, slightly compressed. It occurs sporadically in the forest of Hill Tracts region of India,Nepal and Bangladesh.
Cultivation method: Usually seeds of this plant are used for propagation. Aggor plants are grows well in a sloping area of Hill Tracts region.
Principal constituent of the wood is an essential oil, which contains agarospirol. Wood also contains a chromone, agarotetrol, 1,7-oxaporphine, liriodenine and two sesqiuterpenes, gmelofuran and agarol. Stem bark contains two cytotoxic compounds (Asolkar et al., 1992). The neuroleptic compounds, jinkoheremol and agarospirol have been isolated from the benzene extract of the wood (Ghani, 2003).
Wood is heating, alterative tonic, carminative, laxative, stomachic, diuretic, aphrodisiac and febrifuge; useful in diseases of ear and skin, hiccup, leucoderma, chronic diarrhoea, bronchitis, asthma. The fragrant resinous substance is prescribed in gout and rheumatism. The bark is used for heart disease in Khagrachari. Decoction of wood is used as medicine for febrifuge, stomachic, diuretic, aphrodisiac, carminative, laxative and tonic. It is also very effective in various skin disease, bronchitis, asthma and rheumatism.
Other Uses: Powdered from wood of this plant is used as perfume.
The agarwood 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 (as mentioned by Dr. Devang Pandya) . 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.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.