The connection between incense, religions, medicine, and shaman practices is obvious, it would be impossible to separate them.
Incense has appeared in many forms: raw woods, chopped herbs, pastes, powders, and even liquids or oils. What most of us think of as incense today is joss-sticks or cones. Cones as we know them were an invention of the Japanese and introduced at the World's Fair in Chicago in the late 1800's.
Incense and Herbalism go hand-in-hand, and the oldest source of herbalism and incense that we know is the Indian Vedas. Examination of early Vedic texts indicates that the herbalists or healers were a second tier of Hindu priest
that emerged out of the agrarian areas.
Later, Brahmanization of certain medical texts amends the heterodox practices in light of a more orthodox medical view. From this point, incense evolves in both traditions in association with medicine and herbal remedies, becoming an even more closely guarded secret passed down primarily in the oral tradition and apprenticeship.
The ten virtues of incense as told by a Zen Monk of the XVI century
They ease communication with the beyond
They purify body and mind
They relieve from obsessive thoughts and soothe the spirit
They keep your mind alert
They accompany us in our solitude
They bring true peace & calm at times of stress
Too much of it does not cause tiredness
When resting just even a little gives satisfaction
They keep their aroma going for a long while
Using them habitually does not cause harm.
Some examples of scents and what they do:
Bamboo - Gives strength and energy to face new challenges.
Chand - This fragrance can help soothe and relax you.
Cinnamon - The warm, spicy and woody fragrance which is said to reduce stress and dispel the negative energy of illness itself. It is an extraordinarily potent masculine scent that can be used for love and romance.
Clove - The sweet spicy fragrance can also be described as hot. It is said to help overcome nervousness and mental fatigue.
Frankincense - A stimulant found in the middle-East, it is often promoted as an aid for meditation and prayer to help improve communication with God and for enhancing spiritual awareness.
Nutmegs - have a strong, peculiar and delightfully pleasant fragrance. It is generally used as a gentle stimulant.
Patchouli - Extracted from the purple-tinged white flowers, native to tropical Asia. Burn patchouli incense to bring in money energy. It is also said to act as an aphrodisiac and for this purpose it certainly ranks among the most potent.