Sandalwood Essential Oil

Have you been feeling stressed lately? It’s time you gave sandalwood essential oil a try. Not only does this popular essential oil help calm your mind, but it also provides mental clarity to help you do your job better.

Sandalwood essential oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-aging, antispasmodic, astringent and emollient properties that provide it with many health and beauty benefits.

Not only does it help improve skin health, but it is also beneficial for mental health and various other ailments.

What is sandalwood essential oil?

Sandalwood essential oil is the oil extracted by steam distillation of the chips and billets that are cut from the wood of various species of sandalwood tree.

Sandalwood oil is extracted from trees that are between 40 to 80 years old. The older the tree, the better is its oil reserve and stronger is the aroma.  

The Indian Sandalwood (Santalum album) is considered the best but on the verge of extinction. The Hawaiian sandalwood (Santalum ellipticum) is expensive, and the Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) used commercially but is not too beneficial.

Sandalwood oil contains more than 90 percent sesquiterpenic alcohols of which 50 to 60 percent is tricyclic alpha-santalol and 20 to 25 percent is beta-santalol. This oil is clear with a yellow tinge and has a rich woody-floral scent.

History of sandalwood

Sandalwood has a long history of use. It was an important trade item on the silk route. Sandalwood oil is used as an ingredient in perfumes.

Sandalwood is used in the religious traditions in India. The aroma and wood of sandalwood are esteemed by the people of three major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.

In Tibet and China, sandalwood is also used herbal medicines. In ancient Egypt, sandalwood was used only by the richest and the most influential individuals. Sandalwood oil was also used for embalming.

Benefits of sandalwood oil

1. Relieves anxiety

Several studies have shown that sandalwood oil can help alleviate stress.

During one study palliative care patients were given aromatherapy massage with sandalwood oil. The results indicated that sandalwood oil is effective in reducing anxiety (1).

During another study from Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12 breast cancer patients were given aromatherapy massage with sandalwood, orange, and lavender essential oil. This massage helped lessen anxiety in these women.

2. Improves attentiveness

Sandalwood oil helps to stimulate the mind, and it supports memory, focus, concentration, and mental performance. This beneficial property of sandalwood is why it has been used for meditation and spiritual purposes.

According to a study from Austria, alpha-santalol, the main compound in East Indian sandalwood, elicited a higher rate of attentiveness and mood (2).

3. Anti-inflammatory

Sandalwood oil and sandalwood paste are very useful as anti-inflammatory agents. They help provide relief from insect bites, rashes, and other skin conditions.

According to a 2014 study from Canada, sandalwood oil suppresses the production of cytokines in the skin cells. Sandalwood oil can mimic ibuprofen and provide anti-inflammatory effects (3).

Another study published in the Journal of Herbmed Pharmacology showed that sandalwood provides relief from inflammation in the brain, digestive, nervous and excretory systems. Sandalwood oil is highly beneficial in cases of nervous and circulatory inflammation (4).

4. Strengthens gums and tightens skin

Sandalwood essential oil also has some astringent properties which are beneficial for the gums, muscles, and skin. The astringent properties of sandalwood induce contraction in the gums, which helps strengthen their hold on the teeth.

It is also helpful for skin and muscles as it strengthens the muscles and tightens the skin. Many skin toners and aftershaves contain sandalwood as it can soothe, tighten and cleanse the skin.

5. Prevents infections

Sandalwood essential oil is an excellent antiviral and antiseptic agent. When consumed internally it helps protect internal wounds and ulcers from infection. When we apply it topically, it prevents wounds, sores, boils, and pimples from developing infections.

When sandalwood essential oil was tested for antiviral activities against herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, researchers found this oil helpful in preventing replication of these viruses (5, 6).

Always mix sandalwood essential oil with a carrier oil before applying on the skin. You can add a few drops of this oil in a cup of warm water and gargle with it for relief from sore throat.

6. Treats coughs and colds

Sandalwood essential oil has expectorant properties that help in the treatment of coughs and colds. This oil eases the inflammation in the throat and even fights viral infections that cause cough and flu.

Add some drops of sandalwood oil to a cloth and inhale to reduce coughing. You can also use dilute sandalwood oil in warm water for gargling.

7. Improves skin

Sandalwood oil helps keep the skin looking fresh and youthful by reducing wrinkles, soothing skin irritations and treating skin blemishes.

Sandalwood oil is high in antioxidants which help reduce signs of aging and the damage caused by free radicals. According to a review published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, sandalwood oil has shown promise for treatment of acne, psoriasis, eczema, common warts, and molluscum contagiosum (7).

To reduce skin blemishes, mix sandalwood oil in coconut oil and massage on your face gently. Lease this mask overnight and wash it in the morning.

Mix some drops of sandalwood oil to an unscented lotion and apply it on your face to reverse aging effects.

8. Aphrodisiac

In the Indian traditional medicine system Ayurveda, sandalwood has also been used as an aphrodisiac (8). It increases libido and sexual response and can help men with impotence. Sandalwood is considered a sexual restorative as it induces a state of calmness and relieves tension.

9. Can treat UTIs

Sandalwood essential oil helps in treating infections and inflammation of the urinary tract. Sandalwood oil helps soothe the inflammation of the urinary tract and thus promotes easy passage of urine. The increased frequency and quantity of the urine helps flush out toxins.

The German Commission E also approves the internal use of sandalwood for the supportive treatment of the lower urinary tract. The German Commission E monograph suggests ¼ teaspoon of sandalwood oil for treatment of urinary tract infections.

This treatment should not exceed six weeks and should be done under the supervision of a doctor (9).

10. May treat cancer

Several studies have shown that sandalwood oil and its component alpha santalol has cancer healing effects.

According to research published in Anticancer Research, alpha santalol is a safe and promising cancer chemopreventive/therapeutic agent with the potential to target various pathways involved in carcinogenesis (10).

According to a University of Texas study published in 2016, sandalwood has cytotoxic and genotoxic effects against breast cancer cells.

11. Lowers blood pressure

Sandalwood essential oil also helps in reducing blood pressure. You can add a few drops of this oil to milk or any other liquid and drink it. Sandalwood is also helpful in lowering blood pressure through topical application.

12. Aids sleep

Sandalwood has been traditionally used as a sleep aid for many years. Modern research also agrees that santalol, a significant component of sandalwood oil, has a central nervous system depressant effects like sedation.

During a 2007 study, when researchers gave santalol to rodents, it caused a significant decrease in total waking time and an increase in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep time (11). The researchers of this study believe that santalol is absorbed into the blood through the respiratory mucosa.

Ways to use sandalwood essential oil

There are multiple ways to use and gain benefits from sandalwood essential oil. The most popular method is to diffuse it and inhale the benefits. You can also run a few drops on your palms and inhale it.

You can also use sandalwood oil topically. Dilute it with carrier oil and massage with it. Mix it with some coconut oil and apply it to your hair to reduce dryness and give the hair a silky shine.

Add a few drops to your moisturizer and apply to your face to keep your skin looking fresh and youthful.

Side effects and precautions

Sandalwood essential oil does not cause any significant side effects. Some people may have an allergic reaction when they apply sandalwood oil directly to their skin.

To avoid this, perform a patch test on your skin before using sandalwood essential oil for the first time. Always mix sandalwood oil with carrier oils like almond oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil before applying it topically.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children should avoid using sandalwood oil. People with a liver disorder or kidney disease should not use sandalwood oil internally.

Sandalwood oil is one of the more expensive essential oils. So, if you find a bottle of cheap sandalwood oil online, it is most likely a fake or inferior quality oil. Always buy 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and organic sandalwood oil from a reputable source.

Final thoughts

Sandalwood essential oil is sourced from the wood of the trees in the genus Santalum. It contains aromatic compounds that offer numerous health benefits like stress relief, improved attentiveness, youthful skin, stronger gums, and lower blood pressure.

Sandalwood oil also has cancer healing effects. Always perform a patch test before using sandalwood oil for the first time. Make sure you use organic and 100 pure sandalwood oil.