Aromatherapy: Sandalwood

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.


To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.



Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.