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8 Properties and Uses of Sandalwood (Santalum album)

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The natural world around us is littered with trees and species that contain essential oils useful to us. In this case, the cultivation of sandalwood (Santalum album) was carried out over hundreds of years to extract its essential components and use them in folk medicine.

What benefits would we be talking about? Let’s see them one by one and know how we can use them.

History of sandalwood oil (Santalum album)

leaves and stems of Santalum album

Sandalwood oil is usually recognized for its sweet and intense smell of wood, used as a base for perfumes, offering a particular intensity and improving the fragrance of the rest of the components.

The sandalwood oil (Santalum album) has been used traditionally in the religious traditions of Asian countries. Santalum album is considered as a sacred tree for many countries (such as India)

Due to the properties, it offers it has earned the respect and popularity of many Western consumers, to such an extent that, today, it is one of the most expensive essential oils.

Of course, it also influences that to obtain the medicinal properties of Santalum album it is necessary to extract it in adult specimens that exceed 40 years of age.

The older the tree is, the more intense the sandalwood essential oil extracted from the roots will be more intense and have more quality.

For 4,000 years, sandalwood was already used, and its wood was transported in caravans to places like Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

The Sandalwood Tree

Within its agronomic category, Santalum album is considered a tree. It can reach more than 4 meters through many years of development. In fact, it is considered a long-lived plant, with an average of 100 years of age.

Something very characteristic and differentiating of this tree is that its roots can parasitize other species of plants, seeking a greater benefit, but without causing greater damage or harm to these plants.

It is a system similar to that of a history characteristic of mushrooms, a modified root, which is able to absorb nutrients from other roots. However, the big difference is that it only absorbs a small percentage of these nutrients and water, so it ensures the prevalence of the rest of the “companions”.

The sandalwood plant is characterized by its use of wood and stems, with a characteristic reddish color. When burning, it produces a well-known aroma, to which medicinal properties are attributed.

Composition of sandalwood oil

Between 80 and 90% of the content of sandalwood essential oil is composed of sesquiterpene alcohols, where most consist of two closely related molecules: alpha-santalol (50 to 60%) and beta-santalol (20 to 25%).

Its main chemical components are the following:

  • Santalol
  • Santilo acetate
  • Santaleno

Medicinal properties of Santalum album

1. Antiseptic

Santalum album has antiseptic properties against bacteria and fungi.

It is applicable to the skin in the form of massage to reduce mild inflammation in the skin caused by bacterial agents on superficial wounds, warts, cysts, or pimples.

In traditional Asian medicine, it has been used since the beginning to combat urinary tract infections and mucus in the throat and chest.

2. Improves concentration and helps us relax

The aroma of sandalwood oil (Santalum album) has calming properties for the nervous system, so it helps to relax us in stressful situations.

In fact, it is an important ingredient in aromatherapy, which uses different aromatic compounds to stimulate or depress our nervous system.

In this case, Santalum album manages to reduce depressive states, and agitation due to mental stress and helps to calm us, even in states of insomnia.

Research (Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice) on the properties of the Santalum album found relaxing properties when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  This state of relaxation is what helps to fall asleep in a more intense way, but has no drowsy properties.

3. Natural aphrodisiac

Many times, it has been said that sandalwood oil has aphrodisiac properties. This is because it can be used as an oil when performing massages or with gels and lotions that contain this essential oil.

Sandalwood is also an aphrodisiac that can help increase libido, especially for men, and provide energy. Sandalwood is excellent when added to massage oil or topical lotion.

properties and benefits of santalum album

Patients who inhaled oil from S. album, compared to control subjects, felt more mentally active and offered behaviors linked to increased attention and cognitive clarity.

4. Strengthens memory

Since one of the benefits of this tree is to offer a state of relaxation and calm in the face of anxiety, Santalum album works as a memory booster, so it is useful in aromatherapy before studying or when we need to concentrate to the maximum to perform an activity.

Stop it and you’ll notice the difference.

5. Astringent

Sandalwood is a mild astringent, being able to provide minor contractions in the soft tissues, and skin of the arms, thighs, and feet.

Many lotions such as facial tonics, creams, or aftershave use sandalwood oil as the main ingredient as a base to soothe, cleanse the skin, and tone it.

6. Anti-inflammatory activity

Santalum album is also an anti-inflammatory agent that can provide relief for mild inflammation such as insect bites, contact irritations, and other skin problems.

A 2014 study found evidence that the active component of sandalwood named santalol helps reduce inflammatory markers known as cytokines.

Santalol can act much like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the negative side effects, we know well.

7. Expectorant

Among the benefits Santalum album we can find potential for the treatment of dry coughs, such as lavender or mint, also contributing relaxing effects.

In addition, it helps curb the development of bacteria that can be the underlying cause of many respiratory diseases.

To take advantage of these benefits of sandalwood oil, add a few drops to a tissue and inhale for several minutes until the untimely cough is soothed.

You may be interested in our article about How to use the medicinal properties of Amyris balsamifera

8. Hypotensive

Santalum album has been studied for its potential to lower blood pressure.

In fact, a 2004 study found hypotensive and relaxing effects on systolic blood pressure compared to placebo controls.

santalum wood album

How to prepare your oil

To manufacture our own oil, it is necessary to vaporize the pieces of wood coming from the roots and other aerial parts of Santalum album.

Having a high boiling point, the process to obtain the oil is quite slow, taking several hours to obtain it.

The oil performance is high if its origin is from the wooden parts of roots.  The aerial parts usually contain smaller amounts of essential oils, such as santalol and santaleno.

For example, light-colored sandalwood produces between 3 and % oil, while darker wood is reduced to 2.5% oil.

Does Santalum album oil have contraindications?

Initially, it is rare to suffer irritations or topical inflammations after the application of sandalwood oil.

The first thing we have to do in the first treatment is to apply a small amount on the arm and wait several minutes. If the area does not redden or itch, you can use it on the skin using the oil preparation.

Care should be taken not to use it in case of severe kidney disease and for periods not exceeding 6 weeks.


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About Lela M Altman

Lela M. Altman is a distinguished biochemist dedicated to unraveling the intricacies of life at the molecular level. With a robust background in molecular biology and genetics, she has contributed significantly to our understanding of key cellular processes. Her groundbreaking research spans diverse areas, from DNA replication mechanisms to protein folding dynamics. Dr. Altman's work has led to innovative treatments for various diseases and shed light on the origins of life itself. Her unwavering commitment to scientific exploration has earned her accolades and respect in the scientific community, solidifying her status as a trailblazing figure in the field of biochemistry.

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