Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits
Are you looking for an increase in a sense of calmness and greater mental clarity in your day to day life? Many of us are stressed out and overwhelmed with so many daily demands that having just a moment of peace and harmony would really help improve our lives.
Sandalwood essential oil can help you achieve more clarity and calmness due to its extensive therapeutic benefits. This special essential oil doesn’t just have an amazing scent, sandalwood can also have an effect on overall well-being and mental health, along with many other surprising healing properties.
Sandalwood Essential Oil History
Sandalwood oil is commonly known for its woodsy, sweet smell and is frequently used as a base for products such as incense, perfumes, cosmetics, and aftershave. It is easily blended with other oils, making it desirable as a mix into other fragrances.
Traditionally, sandalwood oil has been a part of religious traditions in India and other Eastern countries. The sandalwood tree itself is considered holy and used for various religious ceremonies, including decorating for weddings or for the birth of a baby.(1)
The highest quality sandalwood is the Indian variety, known as Santalum album. Hawaii and Australia also produce sandalwood, but it is
not considered to be of the same quality and purity as the Indian variety. (2) There is such an increased demand for Indian sandalwood, the price is has been going up, making it the most expensive essential oil available on the market.
Also due to the high demand, many immature trees are being cut and harvested, leading to a decrease in the overall tree population. In India, sandalwood is almost extinct due to less than sustainable farming practices.(3)
If you are concerned about the long-term sustainability of the sandalwood you purchase, Australian sandalwood is being produced in a more environmentally friendly manner and is considered a comparable alternative.(4) You can also consider using synthetic sandalwood oil, if you are only using it as a fragrance.
In order to get the most benefit from this essential oil, the sandalwood tree must grow for at least 40-80 years before the roots can be harvested. If a tree is allowed to properly mature, the older it is, the aroma of the essential oil extracted from it will be stronger. Steam distillation is used to extract the oil from the mature roots.(5)
Sandalwood oil is composed of two primary molecules, alpha- and beta-santalol.( 6 ) These molecules produce the strong fragrance associated with sandalwood.
Alpha-santalol specifically has been evaluated for multiple health benefits from improving blood glucose control in mice, to decreasing inflammation, to helping reduce the proliferation of skin cancer.(7, 8, 9) Sandalwood’s benefits are numerous, but there are a few that particularly stand out.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits
1. Mental clarity
One of the primary sandalwood benefits I that it promotes mental clarity when used as an incense or fragrance. This is why it is frequently used for meditation, prayer, or other spiritual rituals. A 2006 study evaluated the effect of sandalwood oil on attention and arousal levels.
Those who received the sandalwood oil, when compared to control subjects, felt more mentally aware and demonstrated behaviors linked to increased attention and cognitive clarity.(10) Try inhaling some sandalwood oil next time you have a big deadline that requires mental focus, but you still want to remain calm during the process.
2. Relaxing and calming
Not only is sandalwood beneficial for mental clarity, it also helps to create a feeling of relaxation and peace. The 2006 study discussed above found that although sandalwood was relaxing when smelled or rubbed on the skin, it did not promote drowsiness like lavender. Instead, it promoted what researchers referred to as a harmonious feeling, more of a present, clear, but calm awareness. (10)
Another study, published in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, found that patients who were receiving palliative care felt much more relaxed and less anxious when they received aromatherapy with sandalwood prior to receiving care, when compared to patients who did not receive sandalwood.(11)
3. Memory booster
Since one of sandalwood’s benefits is clarity, it also can work as a memory booster. It is difficult to remember important things when we are overwhelmed and stressed out, therefore using sandalwood oil to promote mental clarity can help improve memory.
4. Natural aphrodisiac
Sandalwood is also an aphrodisiac that can help increase libido, especially for men and provide energy. (12) Sandalwood is great when added to a massage oil or topical lotion.
Sandalwood is a mild astringent, meaning it can induce minor contractions in our soft tissues, such as gums and skin. Many aftershaves and facial toners use sandalwood as one of their primary ingredients to help soothe, tighten, and cleanse the skin.
6. Anti-viral and antiseptic
Sandalwood is an excellent anti-viral agent. It has been found to be beneficial to prevent replication of common viruses, such as herpes simplex.(13, 14) It can be applied to the skin to reduce inflammation from mild skin irritation such as superficial wounds, pimples, warts, or boils. Make sure to always test the oil on a small area before applying it directly to the skin or mix it with a base oil first. It has also been used for centuries to treat urinary and chest infections.(15) If you have a sore throat, you can also gargle with a cup of water with a few drops of sandalwood oil added.
Sandalwood is also an anti-inflammatory agent that may provide relief from mild inflammation such as insect bites, contact irritations, or other skin conditions. A 2014 study found that the active ingredient in sandalwood called santalol did help decrease inflammation markers in the body called cytokines. It is believed that santalol acts in a similar manner as NSAID medications, but without the potential negative side effects.(16)
Sandalwood is excellent at treating coughs, since it has relaxing properties. It can also help fight bacteria or viruses that are the underlying cause of coughs and other respiratory illness. Add a few drops to a tissue or washcloth and inhale to help reduce the severity and duration of a cough.
Sandalwood has been studied for its potential to decrease blood pressure. A 2004 study found that when subjects had sandalwood oil applied directly to the skin, without smelling it, there was a decrease in systolic blood pressure when compared to control groups.
10. Helps with endometriosis
Endometriosis is a painful condition caused by skin from the uterus growing outside the uterus. Taking three drops of sandalwood essential oil daily may help reduce pain and decrease inflammation.(17)
Sandalwood is high in antioxidants that can help reduce damage caused by free radicals, which promote aging. Try adding 5 drops of sandalwood oil to an unscented lotion and applying it directly to the face for anti-aging benefits.(18)
Due to the relaxing sandalwood benefits, it can act against spasms of nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Try infusing in an oil lamp or in some of the ways below.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Uses
You may already be familiar with the therapeutic properties of other essential oils, each one carrying its own unique benefit, and sandalwood is no different. Aromatherapy, also called essential oil therapy, is the practice of using oils for their health benefits. Generally, oils are inhaled, sprayed in the air, massaged into the skin, and at times taken by mouth.
Many people find essential oils helpful for stress management and relaxation. Fragrances are strongly connected to our emotions and memories as our scent receptors are located next to the emotional centers in our brain, the amygdala and hippocampus.
Researchers believe that certain fragrances can help trigger calming or peaceful feelings, resulting in overall reduction in stress and healing. Other oils may interact with certain hormones, neurotransmitters, or enzymes, resulting in a specific change to our bodies’ chemistry.(19)
Sandalwood not only has many benefits, but also multiple uses. Traditionally, it has been a significant therapeutic agent Chinese medicine and Ayurveda due to its healing properties.
In these traditional medicines, it has been used to treat urinary infections, digestive issues, coughs, depression, as well as infections. Sandalwood also has a centering effect similar to how lavender can be calming to the body. Sandalwood can help increase focus and mental clarity and balance. Here’s a few ways to try sandalwood essential oil:
Try inhaling a few drops of sandalwood essential oil before stretching, barre or yoga class or other relaxing time to help set the mood. You can even use before a quiet time, prayer time or journalling time to increase your ability to focus.
The best way to get the mental clarity benefits of sandalwood is to apply a few drops, about 2-4, to the ankles or wrists at times of high stress or overwhelm throughout the day. You can also directly inhale the oil if you do not want to apply it directly to your skin. You can also use it in a diffuser to allow everyone in the house to enjoy it. Or add a few drops to the bath water at the end of a long day.
3. For the Body
Sandalwood is frequently used as a skin care product and is especially useful when mixed with a base oil to treat dry skin. Get creative by mixing sandalwood with other essential oils to create your own blend. For example, mix 4-5 drops of sandalwood with rose and vanilla oil and adding it to an unscented lotion for a romantic, fragrant, woodsy blend.(20)Or you can try making your own homemade men’s cologne by mixing sandalwood with various other essential oils to create an earthy, manly scent.(21) You can also use sandalwood as a base for your own homemade hair conditioner.(22) Sandalwood is a great addition to conditioner to help prevent dandruff.
4. Cleasing & Home Use
The strong aroma of sandalwood essential oil allows it to be used in the home in various ways:
- Add a few drops to a log before burning it in the fireplace, a few drops on the radiator, or a drop or two to a light bulb ring to fill the whole house with an amazing and relaxing smell.
- Use it in your car by placing 2-3 drops on the A/C vent to help maintain a calm alertness during rush hour.
- Since sandalwood has antiseptic properties, it can also help disinfect the washing machine, just add 10-20 drops per load.
- Sandalwood oil can be added to the hot tub to a foot bath to promote additional relaxation.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Side Effects
There are no major reported side effects to the use of sandalwood. Some people may experience minor skin irritation from its use. People with severe allergies or pregnant should also be careful before trying any type of aromatherapy.
As with any essential oil, a small test patch should be applied to the skin first before using it all over. Sandalwood oil is generally not applied directly to the skin, but is usually mixed with a carrier oil or lotion first to dilute it. Common carrier oils include: almond oil, jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil.
Have you tried using sandalwood essential oil?