Sandalwood Oil: Aromatherapy for Mind, Body, and Spirit

Sandalwood Oil: Aromatherapy for Mind, Body, and Spirit

What is sandalwood oil?

Sandalwood oil is a natural essential oil extracted from the sandalwood tree.

It has a warm, sweet, woody scent and blends well with oakmoss, jasmine, clove, plumeria, tuberose, violet, orange blossom, rose, or other floral or woody fragrances.

The sandalwood tree, part of the Santalum family, produces highly aromatic wood, which is used for scenting perfumes and for herbal medicine.

The trees grow mostly in India and flourish in regions where the climate has plentiful sunshine, moderate rainfall, long periods of dry weather, and a cool climate.

Wood from sandalwood trees is valued for carving because of its density.

The oil has a woodsy, earthy scent and is used in aromatherapy, candles, and skin care products.

Sandalwood oil is believed to have therapeutic properties and is said to be beneficial for the skin and mind.

How is sandalwood oil made?

Sandalwood oil is extracted from the heartwood of the sandalwood tree by steam distillation.  Usually it's made from two species: Santalum album (Indian sandalwood) or Santalum spicatum (Australian sandalwood).

The oil is strongly held within the wood, so it has to be broken down.  The wood is pulverized into a powder, which is then exposed to hot steam.  The liquid then passes through a condenser, and once cooled, the essential oil is made.

Natural sandalwood is quite rare and expensive—one of the most expensive woods in the world, in fact—so synthetic alternatives are also used instead.  

Available synthetic substitutes include:
  • Sandalore, which is woody and sweet
  • Javanol, which is sweet and woody-oily
  • Bacdanlol, which has a cedar-like fragrance and is commonly used in soaps, creams, and other skin products
  • Ebanol, which is a bit musky
  • Osyrol, one of the most accurate reproductions of natural sandalwood
  • Sandaxol, a milky, creamy variety
Sandalore and Brahmanol specifically have been found to boost healing in ways that even the natural essential oil doesn't.

What are the therapeutic benefits of sandalwood oil?

The therapeutic benefits of sandalwood oil are said to include:
  • Calming and relaxing the mind
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Promoting feelings of peace and tranquility
  • Soothing and calming the skin
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Treating acne
  • Helping to heal scars
The main compound of the oil, α-santalol, has been found to increased psychological alertness, attentiveness, calmness, mood, relaxation, and vigor.

Compared to a placebo, it also elevated pulse rate, skin conductance, and systolic blood pressure.

How should sandalwood oil be used?

Sandalwood oil can be used in a variety of ways, including:
  • In aromatherapy, by diffusing the oil, adding it to a bath, or burning it in a scented candle
  • As a massage oil
  • In skin care products, such as moisturizers, lotions, and soaps
  • In a diffuser

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