Sandalwood belongs to the genus Santalum - a class of semi parasitic aromatic woods that enclose essential oil. Original sandalwood is weighty and has a yellowish hue. The genuine sandalwoods are medium-sized hemi parasitic trees of the genus Santalum. While Indian sandalwood (botanical name Santalum album) is said to be most distinguished member of this genus, other members are found in the Pacific Islands. In fact, Indian sandalwood is an endangered species and, therefore, extremely costly. Unlike several fragrant woods, sandalwood is finely grained, and has the aptitude to retain its aroma for several decades. The aroma of sandalwood is very unique and is used for numerous purposes. This particular aromatic wood has been valued by people over the centuries owing to its fragrance, religious, carving, as well as therapeutic properties.
The essential oil obtained from the timber of sandalwood has been used in manufacturing perfumes for more than 4,000 years now. In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sandalwood essential oil is widely used to treat different conditions. Sandalwood oil possesses a forested and balsamic (various aromas exuded by certain trees) fragrance. In the present times, apart from therapeutic uses, sandalwood essential oil is also used in the manufacture of perfumes, incense and cosmetics. Use of sandalwood oil provides comfort and calms down the system; augments meditation and ensures sound sleep. When used for skincare, sandalwood essential oil works as an excellent moisturizer. Besides, the aroma of this natural oil last for long and helps to inspire and comfort the spirit.
Sandalwood essential oil is obtained from small pieces of wood from matured sandalwood trees by a process known as steam distillation. Ideally, wood from the trees which are around 80 years old should be used to extract sandalwood essential oil. However, considering the rarity of this species, people often extract the oil from trees that are anything between 40 years and 80 years old. In fact, the relatively older sandalwood trees will not only enclose more quantities of the essential oil, but its aroma too would be more potent or rich.
Taking the quality of the sandalwood essential oil into account, the trees grown in India, especially the southern regions of the country, are regarded as the most superior. In fact, the sandalwood trees grown in Mysore in India yield the best quality sandalwood essential oil. In addition to the Indian sandalwood (Santalum album), the Australian sandalwood (Santalum Spicatum) and the Hawaiian sandalwood (Santalum Ellipticum) are also extensively used commercially despite the fact that their quality is not as good. This is primarily because the price of Indian sandalwood is too expensive and on the verge of being extinct. However, between the Australian and Hawaiian sandalwood, the latter is said to be of superior quality and, therefore, remains the most preferred variety after the Indian sandalwood. Chemical analysis of the sandalwood essential oil has revealed that its main elements include santyl acetate, beta santalol and santalenes.
Since time immemorial, sandalwood has been held in high esteem and dignity and treasured by different religious bodies as well as civilizations across the globe. The species is especially valued in the Hindu religion, as followers of this particular faith regard sandalwood as sacred and indispensible in any of their social and religious rites and ceremonial occasions. In fact, for the Hindus, sandalwood is an essential commodity in every event from one's birth to death. In every step of their life, sandalwood, its paste or the incense is an important element. The Hindus offer sandalwood to their deities, use it to decorate the brides and grooms during marriage, decorate babies with it during any anniversary, use it to embalm the bodies as well as the forehead - a common practice among people belonging to different communities in India, and it is also burnt in the pyre while cremating the dead.
In addition to its use in religious and social ceremonies, sandalwood essential oil as well as the paste prepared from sandalwood pieces is also used as a medicine - generally in products meant for skin care and beauty treatments. In addition, sandalwood oil has numerous industrial uses and forms an important element in products, such as edibles, mouth fresheners, room fresheners, incense sticks, perfumes, deodorants, creams, lotions, soaps and many such items. In fact, sandalwood as well as the essential oil extracted from it possesses a number of noteworthy therapeutic properties.
The essential oil extracted from pieces of sandalwood through steam distillation possesses potent antiseptic properties and is safe for use both externally as well as internally. When taken orally, this essential oil helps in protecting the wounds as well as ulcers in any organ inside the body from being infected. In the same manner, when sandalwood essential oil is applied topically on the skin, it helps to safeguard sores, wounds, boils, pimples and other skin conditions from being infected.
In addition, sandalwood essential oil as well as the paste prepared using the pieces of timber from this tree possesses anti-inflammatory qualities and, hence, both are often used to provide relief from as well as comfort or calm down various types of inflammations. It is effective for treating inflammations in the digestive system, in the brain, the nervous system, excretory system, circulatory system and others caused due to fever, infections, and adverse after-effects of using antibiotics, insect bites, wounds and even different types of poisoning. Precisely speaking, sandalwood essential oil is especially useful in healing inflammations in the nervous as well as the circulatory systems. It has been established that sandalwood essential oil is an effective anti-phlogistic (medication capable of reducing fever and tenderness) agent and its use during fever and viral infections helps to provide instant relief from inflammations caused by these two conditions.
The essential oil of sandalwood is an effective relaxant and sedative agent and, hence, it works excellently against all types of spasms or seizures. Use of this essential oil provides relief from spasms and/ or contractions by relaxing the muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Therefore, sandalwood essential oil is highly effective in treating conditions that have any connection with spasms - for instance aches, cramps, coughs and others.
In addition, sandalwood essential oil also possesses very mild astringent properties that help to stimulate contraction or tightening up of the gums, muscles as well as the skin. It is believed that the uses of this natural oil is very useful in increasing the grip of gums of teeth, fortifying the muscles as well as toning up the skin and prevent it from sagging.
The essential oil extracted by steam distilling sandalwood timber pieces is especially beneficial for the skin. Topical application of this oil on the surface of the skin not only helps to provide relief from any problems, but also aids in getting rid of all scars, blemishes, marks and spots making the skin clear. These attributes of sandalwood essential oil as well as the paste prepared from sandalwood have encouraged people to use them as a skin pack that helps to clear as well as rejuvenate the skin. In fact, the oil and the paste have the same effect on the skin and you may choose to use any according to your convenience. Presently, sandalwood essential oil has widespread use in manufacture of skin care products, such as soaps, creams and lotions.
The relaxant nature of sandalwood essential oil helps it to encourage the loosening of the muscles in the abdomen as well as the intestines. This action of sandalwood essential oil helps to get rid of the gases formed in the stomach and intestine. Apart from providing relief from flatulence and bloating, internal use of this natural oil also prevents formation of gases in the stomach and intestines. The relaxing as well as anti-inflammatory qualities of sandalwood essential oil also help it to pacify the tenderness in the urinary system and, at the same time, help it to relax. In turn, this action of this natural oil encourages urine outflow - both in terms of quantity and frequency. Thereby, using sandalwood essential oil facilitates in healing contagions in the urinary system.
Since sandalwood essential oil possesses purifying properties, it is extensively used during religious ceremonies. This natural oil forms an important element in several cosmetics owing to this particular attribute. The aroma of sandalwood essential oil helps to ward off microbes as well as small insects making it an important ingredient in sprays, incense sticks, and fumigants. Sandalwood essential oil disinfects the entire surrounding by evaporating gradually. In addition to its use in the above mentioned aromatic products, you may also add sandalwood essential oil to your bath water, since it will help to disinfect the body. You may also blend this oil with any other lotion or oil for topical application on the skin and wounds to make sure that they are protected from all types of infections. You may also consume this essential oil orally mixing it with milk to heal all internal infections, for instance contagions in the oesophagus, throat, stomach, intestines, excretory system and other organs.
As aforementioned, topical use of the essential oil of sandalwood helps to soothe the skin, provide relief from all inflammations and irritations. In addition, this natural oil is also effective in healing all skin infections and helps to keep the skin clean and cool, thereby rejuvenating the skin.
The essential oil extracted from sandalwood also possesses expectorant properties and is especially helpful in treating coughs. It helps to draw out the phlegm and clear the congestion of the respiratory tract, particularly the lungs. In addition, sandalwood essential oil is also effective in combating viral contagions that are usually responsible for several conditions, including coughs and cold, mumps, flu and others.
Another important and highly useful quality of sandalwood essential oil is its ability to regulate the blood pressure. This property makes it extremely beneficial for people who are suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. Sandalwood essential oil can be mixed with water or milk and consumed orally to reduce high blood pressure. Using the paste prepared from sandalwood timber pieces also has the same beneficial effect.
Before concluding the long list of therapeutic properties of sandalwood essential oil and the benefits offered by them to our overall health, it is important to mention that this natural aromatic oil also helps to tranquilize nervous anxiety, inflammations, apprehensions, strain and tension, restlessness or restiveness and other similar conditions. Moreover, the essential oil obtained from sandalwood also helps to promote relaxation or unwind the tense mind and fatigued body, provide peace, enhance concentration, promote inner vision, stimulate positive thinking and so on.
The essential oil extracted by steam distilling pieces of sandalwood timber is not only very expensive, but also becoming a rare product. In fact, sandalwood is a rare aromatic tree that only grows in few regions of the world. Furthermore, this species takes decades to grow and mature and the present demand for the timber of this tree, even where it grows pretty naturally, is soaring. Smuggling of the timber of this tree is also rampant, making it even more difficult to get the genuine timber. Therefore, it is little surprising that genuine sandalwood essential oil should be so pricey and rare to get.
This tree grows only in a few regions of the world and among them the Mysore sandalwood, grown in Mysore in India, is said to possess the highest therapeutic and aromatic properties. The essential oil obtained from the timber of the sandalwood trees grown in Mysore is, therefore, believed to be of the highest quality. However, the good thing about sandalwood essential oil is that it has a lingering nature and, hence, only a small bottle of this oil will last for long. Even the effect of using it in small amounts lasts longer than many of the other essential oils.