Sandalwood essential oil is distilled from the roots and heartwood of trees that take 50 to 80 years to reach full maturity. In an amazing and lengthy manufacturing process used since ancient times, the mature sandalwood trees are cut down, then left to be eaten by ants, which consume all but the fragrant heartwood and roots. Every part of the heartwood is used, including the sawdust.
The scent, called chandana, is in aromatherapy used to induce a calm and meditative state. The lasting fragrance only improves with age. According to mythology, sandalwood originally grew only in heaven’s gardens. Temple gates and religious statues are carved from the wood because of this spiritual association, the exquisite scent, and because it is impermeable to termites and other insects.
Sandalwood also has an age-old reputation as an aphrodisiac, and in fact, its fragrance is similar to the human pheromone, alpha androsterole. Mysore, India, produces the finest quality oil, and as an endangered species, sandalwood is regulated by the Indian government, which now grows the trees in cultivated plantations.
Principal constituents of sandalwood: Santalols (up to 90 percent), fusanol, santene, santalic acid, teresantol, borneol, santalone, and others
Scent of sandalwood: It has a soft, warm, woody, and balsamic fragrance.
Therapeutic properties of sandalwood: Antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, astringent, sedative, insecticide, urinary and lung antiseptic; relieves lung congestion and nausea
Uses for sandalwood: The essential oil treats infections of the reproductive organs, especially in men, and helps relieve bladder infections. For either use, add 12 drops of essential oil for every ounce of vegetable oil and use as a massage oil over the infected area. This oil also counters inflammation, so it can be used on hemorrhoids. A syrup or chest balm containing sandalwood helps relieve persistent coughs and sore throat.
One of sandalwood’s most important uses is to sedate the nervous system, subduing nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and to some degree, reducing nerve pain. Researchers have found it relaxes brain waves. Suitable for all complexion types, it is especially useful on rashes, inflammation, acne, and dry, dehydrated, or chapped skin.