Are Dhoop and Agarbattis harmful for health?
Lighting an agarbatti or a dhoop stick at evening post sundown has been a ritual in my Grandmother’s house for years now. I don’t think there ever goes an evening where she or my grandfather don’t light a lamp and a dhoop stick in their dining room where they have a shelf with idols of their gods. We always spent our summer vacations at their place and enjoy with our cousins. The evening time used to be exciting as every day, my Aji would light a different dhoop stick with a different flavour. Sometimes sandalwood, sometimes floral. The entire room would be filled with the beautiful aroma of the dhoop. Even today, my grandparents light a dhoop stick or an agarbatti in the evening. My mother also follows the same practice.
As a kid, I never really understood the importance of this practice. Besides, many articles and reviews on the internet mentioned that there are harmful chemicals in the incense sticks which are causing a burning sensation in the eyes and making it difficult for people to breathe in a room with incense. Things just didn’t add up. What was different in the dhoop that my grandmother used and the one which most other people were using?
Traditionally, dhoop sticks and agarbattis contain zero chemicals. Yes, they are made using many natural ingredients like cow dung, camphor, resins, etc. In the past few years, our markets are flooded with dhoop and incense sticks which contain harmful chemicals which are used to form the base or binding. Cowdung based incense sticks and dhoop sticks were almost forgotten. But recent studies and researches have confirmed that cow dung based dhoop battis are actually good for the atmosphere.
Benefits of burning incense sticks and dhoop sticks
#1 Reduces stress and anxiety
Some fragrances are known to have a soothing and calming effect on our mind and body. Agarbattis and dhoop have natural ingredients like Guggul and Sandalwood which are good for relaxing. Even the fragrance of flowers is very popular when it comes to relaxation.
#2 Prevents diseases
Cow dung is known to be a part of the treatment of infectious diseases in Northern Nigeria and Cameroun: Source. Even in India, people have been burning dhoop sticks in case of any infectious diseases or virals being prevalent in the house. The best way to include cow dung in the atmosphere is to light the dhoop stick or agarbatti.
#3 Room Freshener
Agarbattis are the best air fresheners. Chemical-free agarbattis also come in different flavours like sandalwood, guggul, floral, agnihotra, etc. There is no gas, no harmful chemical compounds like the ones in liquid air fresheners.
#4 Cleans the air
In a recent study, with an aim to minimize the usage of chemicals or disinfectants to cleanse the environment, efforts were made to devise a herbal dhoop using cow dung, cow ghee, cow milk, camphor and various other herbs having an appreciable fragrance. The current work focuses on the preparation and evaluation of natural and herbal dhoop formulation for cleansing the environment. The antimicrobial activity of the prepared dhoop was checked and it was found that it can be a potential source for disinfection in various hospitals, hotels, labs. etc.
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