When it comes to essential oils, there are several with woodsy and earthy aromas that come from tree bark. One that comes to mind is sandalwood essential oil. Sandalwood not only has an amazing woodsy, sweet smell, it also contains numerous extensive therapeutic benefits that help make living life a little easier.
For instance, most people are stressed out and become overwhelmed from the pressures of everyday life. Sandalwood essential oil is known for its calming effect on mental health and overall well-being. It is also quite the impressive natural aphrodisiac, memory booster, and anti-inflammatory. Read on to learn more about sandalwood oil and its many other therapeutic benefits.
Facts and History of Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood essential oil has traditionally been used for meditation, religious rituals, and for embalming purposes in Ancient Egypt. Sandalwood oil is made from sandalwood trees, which are considered holy and used for certain religious ceremonies, such the birth of a baby or decorations at weddings.
The highest quality sandalwood is from India, and it’s called Santalum album. Australia and Hawaii also produce varieties of sandalwood, but the purity and quality are not thought to be the same as the one from India, which is also the most expensive essential oil on the market due to the high demand of the oil.
As a result of the high demand, many immature trees are being cut and harvested, which has led to a reduction in the sandalwood tree population. Australian sandalwood is, therefore, a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
The sandalwood tree will grow about 40 to 50 feet once mature. It takes a minimum of 40 to 80 years before sandalwood roots can be harvested. The aroma of sandalwood essential oil is stronger when the tree has the chance to properly mature. Steam distillation is the procedure used to extract the oil from the roots.
Health Benefits of Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood is one of the rare essential oils that are high in sesquiterpenes. In the brain, sesquiterpenes have the capability of passing the blood-brain barrier to help support cellular health. The two primary sesquiterpenes in sandalwood oil include alpha-santolol and beta-santolol, which both give sandalwood its strong fragrance. Alpha-santolol, in particular, has been found to reduce inflammation, improve blood glucose control, and decrease proliferation of skin cancer.
What are other health benefits of sandalwood essential oil? As mentioned, the best-known benefit of sandalwood is its effect on mental health and memory. It has also used for sore throats, urinary and chest infections, and herpes simplex. It is also a natural antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, astringent, aphrodisiac, hypotensive, diuretic, carminative, cicatrizant, tonic, emollient, disinfectant, and expectorant.
The following are some of the health benefits of sandalwood essential oil in further detail.
1. Promotes mental clarity and relaxation
When used as a fragrance or incense, sandalwood oil can promote mental clarity, create peace and relaxation, and boost memory.
A 2006 study found that sandalwood oil increases attention and cognitive clarity, while also promoting calm awareness. Another study published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2006 found that palliative care patients felt more relaxed and less anxious when they received sandalwood oil through aromatherapy prior to receiving care, compared to patients not receiving sandalwood.
2. Contains anti-inflammatory properties
As a natural anti-inflammatory, the alpha-santalol and beta-santalol in sandalwood may provide mild inflammation relief in a similar way as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), but without the negative effects associated with the drugs.
A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2014 found that the santalol reduces inflammatory markers in the body known as cytokines.
3. Lowers blood pressure
Some research shows that sandalwood essential oil can reduce blood pressure. One 2004 study found that sandalwood oil reduces systolic blood pressure better than control groups when applied directly to the skin.
4. Benefits skin
Sandalwood is very good at promoting healthy skin. It is used in many facial toners and aftershaves as a primary ingredient to help cleanse, soothe, and tighten skin. It can be applied to the skin to decrease inflammation from pimples, warts, boils, or wounds.
Be sure to test the oil on a small area or mix it with a carrier oil before directly applying sandalwood oil to the skin.
5. Balances hormones
Sandalwood is very good at balancing levels of the testosterone hormone in both women and men. As a result, sandalwood is a natural aphrodisiac that has been used for years in certain perfumes and men’s colognes. Sandalwood may even help set the mood for date night!
6. Treats endometriosis
Sandalwood also helps treat endometriosis—a painful condition where skin from the uterus grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis may also cause fertility problems. Using three drops of sandalwood essential oil each day may help decrease inflammation and pain associated with endometriosis.
How to Use Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood oil is often used as a base for perfumes, cosmetics, incense, and aftershave. It also blends well with other oils, especially myrrh, cypress, frankincense, and lemon essential oils.
Like most essential oils, you can inhale sandalwood with a diffuser, spray it in the air, or take it orally. You can also apply it to the skin with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil. Also, since some are sensitive to certain oils, a skin patch test can help test your reaction to sandalwood oil.
The following are a few specific ways you can use sandalwood oil.
Add several drops of sandalwood to coconut oil to help with hair dryness. Adding one or two drops can also help restore moisture to hair, and give it a healthy shine.
Inhale a few drops of sandalwood oil before a yoga class to help set the mood. It is also a good idea to use it before journaling or prayer to help increase your focus.
3. Bath or Steam
Apply one to two drops of sandalwood oil to the face and cover it with a towel. Place the face above a large bowl with steaming water. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of sandalwood to a foot bath or hot tub.
Add two to three drops of sandalwood to your vehicle’s air conditioner to help with calmness during rush hour.
5. Washing Machine
Add 10 to 20 drops of sandalwood oil per load to help disinfect the washing machine.
Here are a few of sandalwood essential oil recipes that you can benefit from as well:
6. Uplifting Sandalwood Bath Blend Recipe
- 1 tablespoon of almond oil
- 4 drops of sandalwood essential oil
- 4 drops of jasmine essential oil
- 2 drops of grapefruit essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use the blend immediately in the bath, and enjoy a soothing soak.
7. Sensual Massage Blend for Men Recipe
- 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil
- 6 drops of ylang-ylang essential oil
- 6 drops of sandalwood essential oil
- 2 drops of nutmeg essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer the mixture to a sterilized dark glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap. Store in a dark, cool place, for up to three months.
This blend is emotionally grounding, and perfect for massaging your significant other.
8. Sandalwood Throat and Chest Rub Recipe
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 5 drops of sandalwood essential oil
- 7 drops of frankincense essential oil
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a sterilized dark glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap. Store in a dark, cool place, for up to three months.
Gently massage the oil into the throat, chest, and upper back. Allow the oil blend to absorb before getting dressed.
Possible Precautions with Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood essential oil benefits many people without any major side effects, but some people may experience minor skin irritation. As mentioned, a skin patch test can help you determine whether sandalwood essential is right for you before using it all over the skin.
In general, sandalwood is often used in combination with carrier oil or lotion to dilute it for topical use. Common carrier oils include jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and almond oil.
Pregnant women or those with severe allergies should also use caution before trying any essential oil used in aromatherapy. It is also best to choose a high-quality, 100% pure therapeutic grade sandalwood essential oil from a reputable company.
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“The Many Wonders of Calming Sandalwood Oil,” Mercola, April 27, 2017; http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/sandalwood-oil.aspx.
“Sandalwood Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Precautions,” Sustainable Baby Steps; http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/sandalwood-essential-oil.html, last accessed May 18, 2017.
Essential Oils: All-natural remedies and recipes for your mind, body, and home (New York: Penguin Random House, 2016), 131, 178, 220, 221, 238.
Gentles Fite, V., Essential Oils for Healing: Over 400 All-Natural Recipes for Everyday Ailments (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016), 12, 18, 40.
Sharma, M. et al., “Suppression of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated cytokine/chemokine production in skin cells by sandalwood oils and purified alpha-santolol and beta-santolol,” Phytotherapy Research, June 2014; 28(6): 925-932, doi: 10.1002/ptr.5080.
Kyle, G., “Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing level of anxiety in palliative care patients: Results of a pilot study,” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, May 2006; 12(2): 148-156, doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2005.11.003.