Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood essential oil is obtained from the heartwood of the Santalum album tree, commonly known as the East Indian sandalwood. Sandalwood is a hemiparasitic evergreen, which is able to grow by attaching itself to the root system of other trees.1,8 Its significance dates back to the fifth century B.C., where it is mentioned in several passages of the Bible.8
Primarily extracted through steam distillation, this essential oil is taken from small chunks of wood cut from matured sandalwood trees.1 The highly-coveted fragrance has been noted for its rich woody notes, and earthy undertones.
Traditionally, sandalwood essential oil has been used as a fragrance in aromatherapy, soaps, and cosmetics.1 However, in contemporary society, people are finding new extraordinary uses for sandalwood essential oil that benefits both their natural health and beauty routines.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Uses
Adding sandalwood essential oil to carrier oils and creams, or blending with other oils such as copaiba, cedarwood, geranium or patchouli is a great way to harness its natural effects. Below are some of the most popular ways to use sandalwood essential oil.
Sandalwood essential oil can be used to naturally deodorize perspiration. Mix 2-5 drops of the essential oil with 1 oz. of coconut oil to create an aromatic deodorant that’s free of irritating dyes or chemicals.
Sandalwood essential oil assists the skin with retaining moisture, which helps to eliminate dry and flaky areas. Add 2 drops of sandalwood essential oil to 1 Tsp. rosehip oil and apply to any dry areas on the face and body.
Mixing 2-5 drops of sandalwood essential oil with 1 Tsp. of sweet almond oil can promote healthy, shiny hair. Massage the mixture directly onto your scalp and hair.
Add 1-3 drops of sandalwood essential oil into a diffuser to enjoy its sweet, woody scent. Diffusing the oil at bedtime may be particularly useful. Traditionally used as a sedative, this effect could help you achieve a better sleep.
To create your own oil-control face mask, mix 1 Tsp. of oat flour with enough water to form a paste, then add 3 drops of sandalwood essential oil. Apply the mixture evenly over your face, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Thoroughly rinse the mask off with water to naturally combat oily skin.
Benefits of Sandalwood Essential Oil
In Hindu, Buddhist, and ancient Egyptian cultures, sandalwood essential oil played a prominent role in different ceremonies. The burning of sandalwood was believed to nurture one’s feelings of spirituality and inner peace. In recent years, more research has been conducted on the benefits of sandalwood essential oil, as pharmacological and toxicological data was previously scarce.
Natural Sleep Aid
Sandalwood essential oil has been commonly used as a remedy for insomnia, and a potent sleep aid. A major component of sandalwood oil is santalol, and this organic compound has been reported to have central nervous system depressant effects which cause sedation.2 It is believed that for people who struggle to stay asleep at night, sandalwood oil may help cause a significant increase in total non-rapid eye movement sleep time.2 This effect can leave people feeling better rested.
Help Reduce Acne
During a scientific study conducted in 2012, patients applied a blend of salicylic acid and highly purified sandalwood oil to their facial acne. This was done throughout an 8-week regimen consisting of a foaming cleanser, acne serum, spot treatment, and mask.4 Overall, 89% of patients were recorded as seeing improvements to their acne.4 Further studies will need to be conducted to see if sandalwood essential oil is an effective long-term acne cleanser, but the current research suggests that the oil is a helpful agent in fighting acne.
Promote Mental Alertness
Inhaling sandalwood oil at high concentrations has been shown to invigorate the body both mentally and physically. Sandalwood oil has been proven to elevate heart rate, skin’s electro dermal response, and systolic blood pressure.3
Sandalwood oil has been often attributed with having anti-inflammatory properties. To test these properties, a 2013 study injected purified santalol into cultures of isolated cells. The effects were recorded using a microarray scanner, and data was acquired with microarray analysis software.5
Data showed that the santalol concentrations in sandalwood oil substantially suppressed activity of cytokine and chemokine indicators, and acted similar to ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).5 These indicators regulate inflammation in the body, and their suppression highlights sandalwood’s anti-inflammatory properties.
In traditional medicine, botanical oils like sandalwood have long been used as antibacterial and antiviral agents. But as the overuse of antibiotics has become more prominent, scientists have turned to essential oils as natural anti-microbial agents.
The staph infection known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes irritable red bumps on the body. In one study, researchers used a wide array of essential oils (tea tree, thyme, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, cinnamon, lemongrass, grapefruit, clove, sage, peppermint, kunzea, and sandalwood) in tests to help fight the MRSA strain. The results showed that every oil used was effective in inhibiting the staph infection.7
Sandalwood essential oil has also been tested for its antiviral activity against Herpes simplex viruses -1 and -2.6 The essential oil, when in the presence of the viruses, was found to inhibit their replication.6 Essential oils may be a crucial alternative for fighting this virus, as the emergence of virus strains resistant to commonly used anti herpesvirus drugs is a problem in the clinical setting.7
Note: While the preliminary research looks promising, further studies are needed before essential oils can be used as a treatments for various infections.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Side Effects
Sandalwood essential oil should always be mixed with a carrier agent before application to the body. Always clearly read and follow the labels instructions and do not exceed the recommended dose.
Essential oils should not be ingested, unless users are under the strict guidance and supervision of a healthcare professional, as they can be harmful or toxic.
Because the full range of sandalwood essential oil side effects have not been clearly defined, it is recommended to avoid use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sandalwood essential oil should not be used on small children.
Where to buy Sandalwood Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2008, June 30). Sandalwood. Retrieved March 15, 2017 from https://www.britannica.com/plant/sandalwood – View reference
- Ohmori, A., & Shinomiya, K. (2007). Effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats. Nihon Shinkei Seishen Yakurigaku, 27(4). PMID:17879595
- Heuberger, E. (2006). East Indian Sandalwood and a-Santalol Odor Increase Physiological and Self-Rates Arousal in Humans. Plana Medica, 72(9), 792-800. Doi: 1055/s-2006-941544
- Mory, R. (2012). Single-center, open-label study of a proprietary topical 0.5% salicylic acid-based treatment regimen containing sandalwood oil in adolescents and adults with mild to moderate acne. Drugs Dermatol, 11(12), 1403-1408. PMID:23377508
- Sharma, M. (2013). Suppression of Lipopolysaccharide-stimulated Cytokine/Chemokine Production in Skin Cells by Sandalwood Oils and Purified -santalol and -santalol. Phytotherapy Research, 28(6). Doi: 1002/ptr.5080
- Benencia, F. (1999). Antiviral activity of sandalwood oil against Herpes simplex viruses-1 and -2. Phytomedicine, 6(2), 119-123. Doi: 1016/S0944-7113(99)80046-4
- Schnitzler, P. (2007, May). Susceptibility of Drug-Resistant Clinical Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Strains to Essential Oils of Ginger, Thyme, Hyssop, and Sandalwood. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 5-51. Doi: 1128/AAC.00426-06
- Hirano, R. T. (1990). Propagation of Santalum, Sandalwood Tree. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. 43-45. Retrieved March 15, 2017 from https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr122/psw_gtr122_hirano.pdf