I have traveled quite extensively and every time I visit a new country I always look to find local, natural medicines and remedies that I might need to use while abroad or can bring home to my family. In Nepal, for instance, I had all manner of incense available to buy and bring home. In India, I visited Ayurvedic stores in New Delhi looking for anything to help my bout with "Delhi belly". 

Recently, I learned about Palo Santo (holy wood), a beautiful tree that is commonly grown on the South American coast, especially in Ecuador. It is known throughout the region for its fragrant wood and is said to smell like mint and citrus. How amazing is that?  Medicinally, it helps with symptoms of common colds, stress, headaches, anxiety, and inflammation. And, the essential oils are anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It reminds me a lot of tea tree products. 

The Palo Santo trees are such mainstays of the environment (living to at least forty years) and household products that a company called Ecuadorian Hands has dedicated themselves to making and manufacturing Palo Santo products like soaps, Palo Santo oils, and even hair and skin products. 

What we love most about Ecuadorian Hands is they have dedicated themselves to helping the environment and providing a living wage to local artisans who make their products through their robust reforestation program. That two-pronged approach to their business is not only admirable but truly sustainable. Sustainability and environmental integrity are more important now more than ever. In order to truly use Palo Santo to its utmost, cultivators must wait for the Palo Santo wood to fall off the tree itself. The trees cannot be cut down in order to be usable. 

A percentage of each sale of the Palo Santo products the Ecuadorian Hands sells goes directly to its reforestation program. Six years ago, this funding enabled the creation of a large greenhouse. Since then an estimated 40,000 trees have been planted. According to Ecuadorian Hands, many of these Palo Santo trees have been delivered to schools, colleges, institutions, the Municipality of Puerto Lopez and even the Machalilla National Park, while the rest have given to people in a more individual way.

Ecuadorian Hands' ultimate goal is to plant as many Palo Santo trees as possible in order to employ more people who earn a livable wage. 

We wish them the best of luck and know they can achieve it.  


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