Sandalwood Essential Oil<br/><em>Santalum album</em>
Woody, smooth and sweet, sandalwood oil is the aroma of warmth and contentment. It is a beloved component of perfumes and colognes everywhere, instantly relaxing and energising you at the same time. Part of this stirring scent’s value comes from its longevity; it’s no shrinking violet or delicate flower. The sandalwood fragrance lasts for decades, a departure from most essential oils that have delicate, easily degraded scents.
The sturdy tree that creates this hearty, captivating scent is found in India. There, the heartwood of the tree is considered sacred. They believe that Goddess Lakshmi makes her home in the sandalwood tree. They also use sandalwood to honor Shiva, frequently making statues of Shiva and mala beads from the wood.
The precious sandalwood tree is one of the most expensive woods in the world, due to its popular demand and shrinking supply. It’s so valuable, in fact, that tree harvesters don’t just saw down the tree near its base as they would with any other tree. Harvesters actually pull the tree out of the ground, extracting its root system to also use in the production of sandalwood oil. The roots, it turns out, are rich in the essence of the tree, so they also make a wonderful essential oil.
It’s no wonder, really, why sandalwood is such a cherished oil. We’ve had 4,000 years to fall in love with the creamy, woodsy fragrance. In that time, we’ve also discovered a few other benefits. Ancient Indians used the oil and incense to heal and protect against disease and sickness. In their practice of Ayurveda, sandalwood oil and paste are used to alleviate fevers, heal burns and inhibit excessive sweating. It’s used for acne and rashes, coughs and bloating. It is used to clear the mind, inspire courage and ease stress.
The oil is used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine, too, making use of the oil’s germ-fighting antiseptic properties.
Around the world, from the time recorded history began, sandalwood has been an important part of life, worship and health. Keep reading to discover a few more of sandalwood’s benefits.
- Sleep. The traditional healers who have used sandalwood oil to help patients reduce insomnia are now supported by medical evidence. Several studies have shown that sandalwood’s alpha-santalol and beta-santalol had a sedative effect on the central nervous system. The lab mice included in the study had longer non-REM sleep, which helps prevent the intermittent waking that disrupts sleep. This occurred even though researchers impaired the mice’s ability to smell.
- Cough. Sandalwood oil is an effective expectorant, helping you to eliminate the phlegm and congestion that goes along with cold, flu and a variety of respiratory illnesses.
- Inflammation. Sandalwood is an effective anti-inflammatory, reducing the harmful inflammation that can cause longer-term disease and illness. Its effects seem to be fairly widespread, easing inflammation from infections, fevers, poison, bites and antibiotic reactions. Researchers believe these effects are due to sandalwood’s ability to suppress the cytokines and chemokines that cause inflammation.
- Pain Relief. Sandalwood’s alpha-santalol is shown to relieve pain and control the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels, acting in much the same way as Thorazine. Thorazine is usually used to address ADHD, nausea and psychosis.
- Calm Anxiety. A 2006 study found that sandalwood oil reduced anxiety for seriously ill patients. While more study is needed to duplicate these results in a clinical setting, we already know the power of sandalwood anecdotally. The oil has been used around the world for centuries to ease stress and anxiety.
- Sacral and Throat Chakras. Sandalwood’s dual ability to relax and energise you is helpful when you’re meditating and practicing yoga to balance your chakras. Its stimulating effects may help, in particular, with your sacral chakra, giving you the energy and focus you need to center your feelings. For the throat chakra, sandalwood is also beneficial, clearing your throat and giving you the confidence to speak your mind.
Sandalwood is generally considered a safe essential oil. Even so, there are some important precautions to take with any essential oil. First, keep it out of reach of children and animals. Always dilute your essential oils in carrier oil before applying to your body. If you have sensitive skin, apply the mixture to a small patch of skin to gauge your tolerance. If your skin shows any reaction at all on this test site, do not use sandalwood oil. Pregnant and nursing women and young children should not use this essential oil. If you have a chronic medical condition or if you are taking medications of any kind, consult with your physician before using sandalwood oil.
- Botanical Name: Santalum album
- Common Method of Extraction: Steam distilled
- Plant Part Typically Used: Wood
- Colour: Clear with a yellow tinge
- Consistency: Medium – Thick
- Perfumery Note: Base
- Strength of Initial Aroma: Medium
- Aromatic Description: Rich, sweet, fragrant yet delicate, woody, floral