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How is Ambergris used

Ambergris is mostly recognised for the renowned and unique qualities it can contribute when used in the production of perfume and fragrance (much like musk). It is collected at sea and on beaches and originates from the Sperm Whale; a consequence of the digestive formation created by the whale’s intestines to protect its digestive tract from the sharp, indigestible squid beaks that it consumes on a daily basis. Ambergris itself is legal for import, export and trade in most countries.

Ancient Egyptians burned ambergris as incense, while in modern Egypt ambergris is used for scenting and flavouring cigarettes. In recent history – the Tobacco Industry was the largest consumer of Ambergris, and it is still used in high end pipe tobacco and natural cigarette tobaccos.

The ancient Chinese called the substance "Dragon's Spittle Fragrance" or Lóng Xián Xiang. It is highly valued for both its fragrance, as well as its medical value.

During the Black Death in Europe, people believed that carrying a ball of ambergris mixed with herbs and spices (called a ‘Pomander’) could help prevent them from getting the plague. This was because the fragrance covered the smell of the air, which was believed to be responsible for the outbreak.

Ambergris is used prolifically in the Gulf , primarily as incense, as Attar, and also for its use as a sexual performance enhancer.

The Japanese make copious use of ambergris in their highly refined art of Kodo and diversified cultural practice of incense making, particularly in high-end Agarwood-based Senkoh and Nerikoh styles of incense use. It is also valued for its medicinal properties in Japan

It was the Japanese who first identified the origin of ambergris to be specifically from Sperm Whales. Prior to their discovery, it was hypothesized that it was made from bees living near the ocean, or possibly from fossilized tree resin, as it has a semblance to Fossilized Amber (hence the name, Amber Gris – French for Grey Amber).

This substance has also been used historically as a flavouring for food and is considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures. During the Middle Ages, Europeans used ambergris as a medication for headaches, colds, epilepsy, and other ailments.

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