Sandalwood essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of the mature roots of the Australian Sandalwood tree, Santalum spicatum, native to the arid areas in Western Australia. The fragrance and therapeutic effects are mostly due to the main two compounds found in its chemical structure, alpha- and beta-santanol. According to Dr Josh Axe, Sandalwood oil has the following 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.
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.
Caution: Sandalwood oil may cause skin irritation and is generally not applied directly to the skin, but imixed with a carrier oil or lotion first. Common carrier oils include: almond oil, jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil.
Sandalwood oil should not be used by people who are allergic to it, or during pregnancy.