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Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits for the Brain & Body

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Sandalwood oil - Dr. Axe

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 simply stressed out and overwhelmed with so many daily demands. To have just a moment of peace and harmony would really help improve our lives.

Sandalwood essential oil helps users to 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.


What Is Sandalwood Essential Oil?

Sandalwood oil is commonly known for its woodsy, sweet smell. It is frequently used as a base for products such as incense, perfumes, cosmetics and aftershave. It also easily blends well with other oils.

Traditionally, sandalwood oil is a part of religious traditions in India and other Eastern countries. The sandalwood tree itself is considered holy. The tree is used for various religious ceremonies including weddings and births. (1)

Sandalwood oil is one of the most expensive essential oils available on the market today. The highest quality sandalwood is the Indian variety, known as Santalum album. Hawaii and Australia also produce sandalwood, but it’s not considered to be of the same quality and purity as the Indian variety. (2)

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. An older, more mature sandalwood tree typically produces an essential oil with a stronger smell. The use of steam distillation or CO2 extraction extracts the oil from the mature roots. Steam distillation uses heat, which can kill a lot of compounds that make oils like sandalwood so great. Look for CO2-extracted oil, which means it was extracted with as little heat as possible.

Sandalwood oil contains two primary active components, alpha- and beta-santalol. (3) These molecules produce the strong fragrance associated with sandalwood. Alpha-santalol specifically has been evaluated for multiple health benefits. Some of these benefits include improving blood glucose control in animal subjects, decreasing inflammation and helping to reduce the proliferation of skin cancer. (4, 5, 6)

Sandalwood’s benefits are numerous, but there are a few that particularly stand out. Let’s take a look at those now!


Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits

1. Mental clarity

One of the primary sandalwood benefits is that it promotes mental clarity when used in aromatherapy or as a fragrance. This is why it’s often used for meditation, prayer, or other spiritual rituals.

A study published in the international journal Planta Medica evaluated the effect of sandalwood oil on attention and arousal levels. The researchers found that sandalwood’s main compound, alpha-santalol, generated high ratings of attentiveness and mood. (7)

Inhale 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

Along with lavender and chamomile, sandalwood commonly makes the list of essentials oils used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety, stress and depression. (8)

A 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, compared to patients who did not receive sandalwood. (9)

3. Natural aphrodisiac

Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine traditionally use sandalwood as an aphrodisiac. (10) Since it’s a natural substance that can increase sexual desire, sandalwood helps to increase libido and may help men with impotence.

To use sandalwood oil as a natural aphrodisiac, trying adding a couple of drops to massage oil or topical lotion.

4. Astringent

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.

If you’re looking for an astringent effect from your natural body care products, you can add a couple of drops of sandalwood oil. Many people also use sandalwood oil to fight acne and dark spots. (11)

5. 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 viruses-1 and -2. (12, 13)

Other uses include the reduction of inflammation from mild skin irritation such as superficial wounds, pimples, warts or boils. Just make sure to always test the oil on a small area before applying it directly to the skin or mix it with a base carrier oil first.

If you have a sore throat, you can also gargle with a cup of water with a few drops of anti-viral sandalwood oil added to it.

6. Anti-inflammatory

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 compounds in sandalwood can decrease inflammation markers in the body called cytokines. It is believed that these active compounds (santalols) act in a similar manner as NSAID medications minus the potential negative side effects. (14)

7. Expectorant

Sandalwood is an excellent expectorant that can be helpful in the natural treatment of colds and coughs. Add a few drops to a tissue or washcloth and inhale to help reduce the severity and duration of a cough. (15)

8. Anti-aging 

Sandalwood is high in antioxidants that can help reduce damage caused by free radicals, which promote aging. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory.

According to a scientific review titled “Sandalwood Album Oil as a Botanical Therapeutic in Dermatology” published in 2017, clinical trials reveal sandalwood oil’s ability to help naturally improve acne, eczema, psoriasis, common warts, and molluscum contagiosum. (16)

Try adding five drops of sandalwood oil to an unscented lotion and applying it directly to the face for natural anti-aging benefits or to help treat acne and other minor skin concerns.

9. Urinary Tract Infections

While clinical trials to back up this benefit are lacking, internal use of sandalwood is approved by the German Commission E for the supportive treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract. The German Commission E monograph recommends a quarter teaspoon (1–1.5 grams) of sandalwood essential oil for urinary tract infections. This treatment should only occur under a doctor’s supervision and is not meant to be longer than six weeks. (17)

10. Anti-cancer effects

Studies using an animal model demonstrate that sandalwood oil and its active component, alpha-santalol, act as chemopreventive agents. A topical application containing five percent sandalwood oil demonstrates chemopreventive effects on chemically induced skin cancer in ani  mal subjects.

Meanwhile, lab research shows that alpha-santalol reduces tumor incidence and multiplicity in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. (18)


Sandalwood Essential Oil Uses

You may already be familiar with the therapeutic properties of other essential oils. Every essential oil carries its own unique benefits and sandalwood is no different. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to improve psychological or physical well-being. You can diffuse, inhale or apply essential oils topically to the skin.

Many people find essential oils helpful for stress management and relaxation. Fragrances are strongly connected to our emotions and memories. This is because 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. Other oils may interact with certain hormones, neurotransmitters or enzymes, resulting in a specific change to our bodies’ chemistry.

Sandalwood not only has many benefits, but also multiple uses. Traditionally, it has been a significant therapeutic agent in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda due to its healing properties. In these traditional medicines, uses of sandalwood oil include the treatment of 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, mental clarity and balance.

Here’s a few ways to try sandalwood essential oil:

1. Relaxation 

Inhale a few drops of sandalwood essential oil before stretching, barre or yoga class or other relaxing time to help set the mood. Use it before a quiet time, prayer or journaling to increase your ability to relax and focus.

2. 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. Use it in a diffuser to allow everyone in the house to enjoy it. Or add a few drops to bath water at the end of a long day.

3. For the Body

The use of sandalwood oil in skin care products is common. One great skincare use: Mix sandalwood oil 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.

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. You can also use sandalwood as a base for your own homemade hair conditioner. Sandalwood is a great addition to conditioner to help prevent dandruff.

4. Cleansing & Home Use

You can use sandalwood essential oil in the home in various ways:

  • Add a few drops to a log before burning it in the fireplace.
  • 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. Add 10–20 drops per load.
  • Add sandalwood oil to a foot bath to promote additional relaxation.

Sandalwood Essential Oil Side Effects & Precautions

There are no known major side effects to the use of sandalwood. Some people may experience minor skin irritation from its topical use.  As with any essential oil, perform a small test patch to the skin first before using it all over. Always mix sandalwood oil with a carrier oil or lotion first to dilute it before applying it to the skin. Common carrier oils include: almond oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil.

People with kidney disease as well as infants and children should not use sandalwood internally. Pregnant or nursing moms should not use sandalwood oil internally. Check with your healthcare provider before using sandalwood oil in any way if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are currently taken medication. (18)

Always choose a sandalwood essential oil that is 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and certified organic to ensure potency, safety and effectiveness.


Final Thoughts

  • Sandalwood oil benefits include its ability to encourage mental clarity ad relaxation.
  • Sandalwood oil uses include colds, coughs, urinary tract infections, acne, eczema, psoriasis and more.
  • Sandalwood oil has the ability to act as a natural astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and expectorant.
  • This incredible oil demonstrates anti-cancer effects, specifically when it comes to skin cancer.
  • Use sandalwood oil in a homemade cologne or perfume. You can also include it in your bath.
  • Always choose a sandalwood essential oil that is 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and certified organic.

Read Next: 14 Cedarwood Essential Oil Uses for Wisdom, Beauty & More


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