India, Australia, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands
Wood, resin, oil
With a deep, warm, woody and spicy aroma, Sandalwood is one of the oldest incense materials in the world.
Sandalwood has a long history of religious and traditional use. It is especially favoured by monks of the Far East as an aid to meditation and to promote mindfulness and higher states of consciousness. It is still one of the most popular incenses in India, China and Japan where it is used to clean the atmosphere and as an offering to various deities.
Also known as “Chandan”, Sandalwood is also prized for beauty benefits in Ayurveda. Powdered Sandalwood is used in skin creams, providing hydration and replenishment to dry skin, and in natural hair care products to promote shiny healthy hair.
Used for millennia to promote mental clarity and as an aid to meditation, Sandalwood has been subject to recent research that confirms it is able to enhance mood and attentiveness.
The essential oil of Sandalwood is rich in the active compound alpha-santalol. In a study published in the journal “Planta Medica”, researchers found that alpha-santalol elicited higher ratings of attentiveness and mood than the placebo. The study also found that Sandalwood increased the blood pressure, pulse and perspiration of the participants, which are all markers of increased alertness.
The chemical compounds “sesquiterpenes” present in Sandalwood essential oil stimulate the pineal gland in the brain to produce melatonin. This is the main hormone that regulates sleep cycles, promotes sleep and eradicates insomnia, troubled sleep and other sleeping disorders.
The scent of the oil has a powerful effect on the brain’s limbic system and has sedative qualities that can ensure a sound night’s sleep.
The soothing and grounding aroma of Sandalwood helps to reduce tension and anxiety levels and promotes emotional balance.
In aromatherapy, Sandalwood essential oil can be used to create a relaxing, de-stressing bath or massage oil.
One of the many traditional uses of Sandalwood is as a natural aphrodisiac. It has been discovered that the scent and chemical effects of Sandalwood are similar to those of androsterones – human pheromones. This androsterone effect helps to promote sensuality by relieving tension and the mental blocks that can cause impotence and other sexual blockages.
Sandalwood is a popular ingredient in men’s aftershave. The similarity of androsterone to the male pheromones sends out a barely perceptible but highly effective erotic signal to the opposite sex which is thought to increase the attraction of the opposite sex!
As a natural anti-inflammatory, Sandalwood is rich in antioxidants that combat the free-radical damage that is associated with aging.
It also improves skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. In a study published in the “Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology”, researchers found that Sandalwood reduced the severity of these conditions. In the treatment of warts, it was found that a blend of salicylic acid and santalol (the active compound in Sandalwood), completely cleared up the warts in 21 percent of the treatment group.
The anti-inflammatory and antiseptic action of Sandalwood make it effective for use in insect bites, superficial wounds, pimples and boils. It has also been found to have excellent anti-viral properties, specifically preventing the replication of the herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2. A study published in “Science Direct” inhibited the replication of the viruses and reduced plaque formation significantly.
Burn liberally on charcoal disks to create a peaceful, uplifting sacred space.
With a rich cultural history in its native regions around the world, Sandalwood has many unique uses for all parts of the tree.
In India, Sandalwood is tightly woven into many aspects of daily life, so much so it has fifteen names in the Indian languages. The heartwood and oil of Sandalwood were two of the first items, alongside silk and spices, to be traded at the “dawn of trading” in India. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the rich fragrance of the heartwood constitutes the scent of all paradise.
In Indonesia, Sandalwood is considered to bring one closer to god, such is its power of purification. On Indonesia’s Sumba Island, Sandalwood was one of the only treatment for illnesses before the introduction of penicillin.
Throughout Indonesia, the wood of the Sandalwood tree was often used for women’s fans, allowing the wood’s long-lasting fragrance to spread out as a perfume when a woman fanned herself.
Sandalwood contains sesquiterpenic alcohols, containing tricyclic a-Santalol as its main constituents.