Sandalwood essential oil is an exotic, amazing and expensive oil. And rightfully so! It has some incredible benefits which are actually backed up by scientific research. So let’s learn more about the properties, uses, and benefits of sandalwood essential oil.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Properties
Sandalwood, itself, is sometimes referred to as East Indian sandalwood or Mysore sandalwood. And its botanical name is Santalum album.
Now, there are several varieties of sandalwood including the Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), New Caledonian sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum) and red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus). The oils from these varieties are different so they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for Mysore sandalwood oil.
Color & Smell of sandalwood oil
The oil has a very light yellow to pale golden color. And its smell is sweet, woody, and exotic. Many Indian shops actually smell like sandalwood oil!
What is in sandalwood oil?
There are several unique compounds in sandalwood essential oil. They include alpha-santalol (which makes up 40% of the oil), beta-santalol, nuciferol, beta-sinensal, alpha-bergamotol, lanceol, beta-santalene, spirosantalol, beta-santalene, beta-santaldiol, and nerolidol.
These compounds have some incredible health, skin and beauty benefits which you’ll see below.
Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits
It’s no surprise that there are many sandalwood essential oil benefits. I mean people have been using the oil for thousands of years!
Proven benefits of sandalwood oil show the oil:
- relaxes and calms the mind
- improves focus and concentration
- kills cancer cells in vitro
- neutralizes free radicals
- reduces inflammation
- destroys bacteria, fungi and viruses
- kills and repels insects
- kills and repels spiders, ticks and mites
The oil is relaxing
Aromatherapists have long believed that sandalwood is a great soothing and calming oil. And the Ancient Indians and modern-day Hindus use the oil in the rituals for this very reason. Now there is actually scientific support and proof for these sandalwood oil benefits.
In a 2004 study, researchers asked 36 volunteers to rub a sandalwood oil mix on their tummy while wearing a breathing mask to prevent them from breathing in the oil. The volunteers’ eye blink rate, systolic blood pressure and other parameters were then measured.
The results showed that blink rate and systolic blood pressure decreased after application of the sandalwood oil. Medically, such decreases mean sandalwood has a calming, relaxing and sedating effect on the body.
So use sandalwood oil to calm your nerves, relax your body, ease your stress, and reduce your anxiety!
It improves focus and attention
Volunteers in the study mentioned above also found themselves more aware and attentive after using sandalwood oil. And some researchers believe sandalwood can help you relax without making you feel sleepy or drowsy, like lavender essential oil.
So reach for sandalwood oil to help you focus and concentrate while keeping you relaxed!
It may be anticancer
There is extensive research showing the powerful in vitro anticancer benefits of sandalwood essential oil.
One 2015 study clearly demonstrated these benefits. It showed the oil and one of its main compounds, alpha-santalol, have chemopreventive effects against chemically-induced and UV-B-induced skin cancer as well as melanoma, non-melanoma, breast and prostate cancer. And these benefits of sandalwood oil had no other side effects.
The study went on to show sandalwood oil caused cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells. What that means is the oil simply and brilliantly caused cancer cells to commit suicide.
Another study also identified other compounds in sandalwood oil (like beta-santalol and beta-santaldiol) which also cause apoptosis in cancer cells.
And yet another study, from 2014, looked at the effects of both frankincense and sandalwood essential oils on human bladder cancer cells and normal cells. This study found that both oils showed similar potency but used different methods to achieve cancer cell death. However, the researchers found sandalwood oil caused cell death of both the cancer and normal cells.
So always use sandalwood essential oil in moderation.
It is antioxidant
Besides being anticancer, sandalwood oil has powerful antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are compounds that can neutralize free radicals. And free radicals are rogue chemicals that can affect your cells’ DNA and cause, among other things, wrinkles and even cancer.
This 2012 study clearly proved sandalwood had antioxidant benefits by itself and when combined with vitamins A, C or E.
It is anti-inflammatory
There have also been reports of sandalwood oil being anti-inflammatory. In fact, animal studies have shown that sandalwood is able to reduce paw edema in rat models. So you can use sandalwood essential oil for your skin to reduce redness, calm irritation, and heal inflammation related skin conditions.
It is antibacterial
There are many studies that show the antibacterial benefits of sandalwood essential oil.
One from 2008 tested the oil (along with tea tree, eucalyptus, and clove bud) on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. A MRSA infection (which may occur after surgeries) can cause deep, painful abscesses and may lead to more life threatening problems.
The study actually showed all the essentials oils tested – including sandalwood oil – were very effective in killing the bacteria. The study further recommended essential oils as antiseptic, topical treatment options for dealing with MRSA and other multi-drug resistant bacterial strains.
It is antifungal
Sandalwood oil is an incredibly powerful antifungal agent. And a 1998 study proved these benefits.It tested 24 essential oils (including sandalwood, lemongrass, bay and tea tree) on Candida albicans, you know, the fungi that causes thrush and yeast infections.
The results showed sandalwood essential oil inhibited the fungi at concentrations of 0.06%. Interestingly, the oil was found to be more powerful than other potent antimicrobial oils like lemongrass, spearmint, oregano and bay essential oils which inhibited the fungi at 0.12% concentrations.
Note, however, that many other studies (like this 2009 study) have found sandalwood essential oil is not always as powerful as the other oils. That’s why the purity of the oil is so important when conducting these studies. Nevertheless, most studies agree that sandalwood does have antifungal benefits against several fungi species.
It is antiviral
They tested the oil (along with ginger and thyme) on the Herpes simplex viruses-1 and -2. The results showed sandalwood and the other oils were virucidal, meaning they were able to inhibit and kill the virus.
So you can clearly see sandalwood oil is a powerful antimicrobial oil and can be used for treating skin infections or for cleaning purposes.
It is a great insecticide
A 2006 study published in the Parasitology Research Journal showed the larvicidal benefits of sandalwood oil. The study tested essential oils from 13 plants (including camphor, black pepper, lemon and sandalwood) on the larvae of three mosquito species. The study noted all oils killed the larvae within 24 hours.
And several other studies also proved sandalwood essential oil has moderate repellent benefits against flies, termites and mosquitoes.
It kills mites and ticks too
Sandalwood essential oil has proven benefits against arachnids, namely ticks and mites.
A 2011 study actually tested 34 essential oils on the two-spotted spider mite. The results were impressive! Sandalwood essential oil was the most powerful mite killer of all the oils tested and caused the mites to lay up to 90% less eggs!
And the two main compounds – alpha- and beta-santalol – were responsible for these sandalwood essential oil benefits. The researchers also showed sandalwood oil had repellent effects against the mite in a follow-up study, published in 2012. In fact, they found sandalwood at a concentration of 0.1% repelled the mite for up to 5 hours!
So use sandalwood oil to repel and kill mites, ticks, mosquitoes and other bugs.
Summary: With these sandalwood essential oil benefits, it’s no wonder the oil is so popular and widely used! Here’s a simple graphic summarizing these benefits:
Sandalwood Essential Oil Uses
Sandalwood oil is truly amazing. But it comes from the sandalwood tree which grows very slowly and is mainly found in Mysore and Tamil Nadu in India. So it’s basically a limited resource. That’s why it is so expensive and why it is one of the most adulterated essential oils.
So be cautious when you find brands that sell cheap sandalwood oil. It will never be cheap unless it’s diluted with carrier oils like coconut oil. So verify the purity or dilution before you buy sandalwood oil.
Back to sandalwood oil uses.
You can very simply add a few drops of the oil to your diffuser for a warm, exotic scent. And remember the sandalwood oil benefits – the oil is relaxing but keeps you focused and attentive. So use the oil when studying or before any activity that causes you anxiety.
Before using sandalwood, or any other essential oil, always do a skin patch test first to make sure you are not sensitive to the oil. To do this, simply add 1-2 drops of sandalwood to 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil like avocado or jojoba. Dab a bit of this mix on the inside of your elbow or the back of your ear.
Monitor the area for about 12 to 24 hours. If you notice any redness, burning or skin irritation in that area, wash with soap immediately because you may be sensitive to the oil and so shouldn’t use it on your skin. If, however, you don’t see any redness or irritation, then you can use the oil in any massage mix.
Due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits, you can use sandalwood oil for skin problems like acne. You can add 2 drops of sandalwood oil and 2 drops of tea tree oil (which also has these three benefits) to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil that has a low comedogenic rating (like argan or safflower oil). Use this mix as a spot treatment for acne or inflamed comedones.
Sandalwood oil has been used for thousands of years by Asian cultures. So it is considered a very mild, safe essential oil. However, there have been a few reported cases of skin irritation and sensitization due to sandalwood oil. That’s why it is so important to patch test before using it liberally.
Also, as with all essential oils, check with your medical professional before using sandalwood essential oil, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or suffering from any health problems.
Where to buy sandalwood essential oil?