Modern life is more fast-paced and stressful than at any other point in human history. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed you may want to look into the benefits of sandalwood essential oil on helping ease your mind and body, providing a solid foundation for navigating the challenges in life and alleviating the buildup of stress.
Coming from the plant genus Santalum, the sandalwood tree is native to South Asia, Oceania, and the South Pacific. The tree can grow to be 33 feet tall and has glossy green leaves and root system that derives nourishment from other plants.
Used quite heavily in aromatherapy, sandalwood is a great essential oil to relieve stress and pressure. It can alleviate headaches, migraines, or mental fogginess and improve sleep quality, in addition to a range of other health benefits.
The History of Sandalwood
Prized for its distinct aroma, sandalwood has been an important trade item throughout a big part of human history, especially on the Silk Road.
A cornerstone of religious and cultural traditions in India, as well as most other Eastern nations, sandalwood was, and continues to be, prized in this part of the world for its mental and physical health benefits.1 In India, the sandalwood tree is considered sacred, with individuals using the material from the tree in a wide range of religious ceremonies and traditions. In Tibet and China, sandalwood was used in herbal medicines, primarily as an antiseptic.
In ancient Egypt, sandalwood was held in such high regard that it was only accessible to the richest and most influential individuals. Sandalwood essential oil was also used in embalming, and many mummies that have been discovered contain traces of this essential oil. 2
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Today, sandalwood trees in India are protected and are only able to be harvested under specific conditions. Because the trees take over 60 years to fully mature, illegal harvesting of the trees resulted in a decreased population and necessitating the need for preservation.3
Unlike a lot of other essential oils out there, sandalwood essential oil doesn’t have quite the same diversity in its terpene composition, yet maintains a wide range of health benefits. Sesquiterpene alcohols, make up more than 90% of sandalwood essential oil. Out of these, 50% to 60% of is tricyclic α-santalol and 20% and 25% is β-Santalol. These molecules are the source of the essential oil’s fragrance.4
The overall composition of sandalwood essential oil comes down to the specific species of sandalwood tree the oil is cultivated from, as well as what region of the world it comes from. Researchers believe that even the specific extraction process—most commonly steam distillation—can have any impact on the overall compound constituents of the essential oil.
Uses for Sandalwood Essential Oil
When using sandalwood essential oil to improve overall health and wellness, it is recommended that the oil used comes from trees that are between 40 and 80 years old. Sometimes called White Sandalwood trees, these have the largest reserves of sandalwood essential oil, a much stronger aroma, and when steam distilled properly, are capable of producing the purest and beneficial sandalwood essential oil. The older the tree, the more oil is produced, and the more potential benefits for overall health and well-being. Light-colored wood produces about 3–6 percent oil, while dark brown wood produces about 2.5 percent oil.
Preparation of sandalwood essential oil involves chipping pieces of wood from the sandalwood tree and crushing them to powder. The oil itself is then produced by steam distillation, a process that may take hours. The highest yield of oil is produced in the roots.
Hawaiian sandalwood and Australian sandalwood essential oils are also beneficial but aren’t as readily available or effective as the White Sandalwood. Australian sandalwood is most commonly used in commercial applications (perfumes, colognes, soap, skin care products, and candles) due to its strong aroma, but lacks many of the benefits of Indian Sandalwood, though it is the more ecologically sustainable alternative because of the ecological vulnerability of the Indian Sandalwood.
In addition to the psychological benefits highlighted above, sandalwood essential oil also effectively fights inflammation and bacterial infections provide relief from spasms and respiratory issues and can clear up the skin. The benefits of sandalwood essential oil can be harvested in different ways: in vapor therapy, it can be used to help alleviate coughs, insomnia, nervous tension, or stress. It can also be added to massage oil or bath water to help with relaxation. Additionally, it can dilute and used to gargle for a dry or a sore throat or used as a lotion on dry skin, or as a general moisturizer.5
Though the oil can be used alone, the properties of sandalwood essential oil will be even more beneficial in aromatherapy when paired with other essential oils like lavender, rosemary, rose, bergamot, or chamomile. For skincare benefits, it is best to mix sandalwood essential oil with citrus oils like lemon, orange, or grapefruit.
Antiseptic and Antibacterial
Sandalwood essential oil can be safely used internally as well as topically, providing the ability to fight back infection from both the inside and outside.
When ingested, sandalwood can protect against infection of internal wounds, including ulcers. When applied topically, it can help speed up the healing of wounds, reduce sores and boils, or clear up pimples and acne. In terms of acne treatment, the results from a 2012 clinical trial found that applying a mixture of sandalwood essential oil with salicylic acid on the skin of adolescents and adults with mild to moderate acne over eight weeks found that 89% of the individuals saw a reduction in their acne.6
Inflammation is a large day-to-day issue, and α-santalol and β-Santalol act as anti inflammatories, providing relief for inflammation in many places in the body, such as in the digestive system or the respiratory system by providing a cooling effect. A 2014 study found that it is the santanol in sandalwood essential oil that instills it with its anti-inflammatory properties and provides relief.
Because it is a relaxant and sedative, the antispasmodic benefits in sandalwood essential oil relieve muscle spasms when applied topically or ingested internally, and is useful for treatment in coughs, aches, or cramps.
Sedative and Memory Booster
Sandalwood essential oil is frequently used in aromatherapy and in all-natural medicine because it has the ability to eliminate headaches and migraines, improve memory and concentration abilities while acting as a mild sedative.7
For centuries, sandalwood was burned in Buddhist, Hindu, and ancient Egyptian ceremonies because it was thought to relieve restlessness, promoting inner peace. The use of sandalwood for these same benefits continues today, and a pilot study in 2006 documented the effects of sandalwood essential oil in alleviating anxiety in a sample of patients. Both sandalwood aromatherapy and massage alleviated the symptoms of anxiety more than the sweet almond oil it was being compared against.
You’ll feel more relaxed and in control of your life, worrying less about “short-circuiting” during stressful times in life. Its mild sedative effects can also help improve sleep quality, resulting in a restful night’s sleep. Researchers found that inhaling a concentration of satanols, compounds that make up the majority of sandalwood essential oil, caused a sedative effect in rodents and increased the duration of non-REM sleep.
Due to its analgesic effects, sandalwood essential oil is particularly useful for pain relief, due to the α-santalol and β-Santalol receptors that are involved in pain modulation. According to a research study conducted in 2000, α-santalol has an analgesic effect, allowing for pain relief as well as regulation of dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain.
Safety and Precautions
Some have reported minor skin sensitivity when applying undiluted sandalwood essential oil directly to the skin, but these reports are few. It is recommended that sandalwood essential oil is diluted with a carrier oil or lotion before being applied topically.8
Women who pregnant or nursing are discouraged from using sandalwood essential oil, as well as any other essential oil.
Sandalwood essential oil is effective easy to use. It’s easy to see why the oils produced from these trees have been held in high regard throughout human history.
An integral part of many religions and cultures in the East, and a key component of skincare, perfumes and colognes, candles, and aromatherapy solutions everywhere, it should come as no surprise that sandalwood essential oil also serves as an effective natural healing agent.
Whether ingested, used topically, or in aromatherapy through a diffuser or personal essential oil diffusers like Sleepy, Forest, or Love MONQ, sandalwood essential oil can add wide-ranging benefits to your daily routine.