Exotic, evocative balsam, conjuring images of tropical forests and oriental palaces, instilling calm, peace and harmony
Essential information: A truly powerful psychological oil with far reaching therapeutic properties, sandalwood is highly recommended for releasing and balancing undesirable negative emotions, and coping with a hectic lifestyle. Particularly supportive and healing to many major body systems, it also combats infection. This oil is a valuable addition to your skin-care routine as it balances and rejuvenates most complexions.
Description of aroma: Velvety soft, warm, sweet and woody, the subtle yet lingering fragrance of sandalwood is an exotic, spicy and balsamic oriental delight.
Ruling planet: The experts don't appear to be able to agree on this. Sources vary from the Moon or Venus, to Mercury or Uranus, and even none at all.
Properties beneficial to the mind, emotions and spirit: A particularly effective psychological oil, sandalwood may help release tension, confusion, aggression, grief and lead you toward a place of calm and well-being. Its balancing and harmonizing effects make it the ideal remedy for nervous tension, fear, stress and a hectic daily schedule. If you react with irritation or aggression, reach for the sandalwood. It is a very relaxing oil, the effects are slow and powerful, more soothing and sedative than uplifting.
It is said that sandalwood helps cut ties with the past, and it may be used to comfort the terminally ill, as it encourages feelings of acceptance and peace. It might also aid you in overcoming egocentricity or an obsessive attitude, and is reputedly useful in dealing with self-enforced isolation, by encouraging you to accept others with an open heart and fostering openness, warmth and understanding, and supporting spiritual growth.
A sandalwood oil massage can help you experience the connection between the chakras, which is beneficial if you have lost equilibrium, or if your energy centres are unevenly burdened. A renowned aphrodisiac, sandalwood has long been employed to treat frigidity and impotence. In fact Wandar Sellar ( The Directory of Essential Oils ) warns that the aphrodisiac effects are well-known and should be used at your own peril!
Of interest: Sandalwood trees are held sacred in their native home of Eastern India, and a familiar sight on the trade routes from India to Greece, Rome and Egypt were caravans loaded with sandalwood. One of the oldest known plant materials, history has witnessed over 4,000 years of uninterrupted use. The scent has been in use longer than recorded history as a perfume, and for at least 2,500 years to fight infection.
The Egyptians used sandalwood for embalming as well as perfume, and it is mentioned in the Nirukta, the oldest known Vedic commentary written in the 5th century BC, and in ancient Sanskrit writings and Chinese books, in relation to its use as an ingredient in cosmetics and medicines. The name is probably derived from the Sanskrit chandana. It has been widely used as incense, especially for religious ceremonies, probably due to its calming effect, and is also believed to help release the soul after death.
For thousands of years sandalwood has been highly esteemed all over the East, particularly in India where it is applied in Ayurvedic preparations, and used in a paste made from the wood to treat skin irritations. The Indians combined it with rose to create their famous perfume, 'Aytar'.
It has also been highly valued in China since antiquity, where it has been taken as a remedy since 500AD. It is still used in Chinese medicine for complaints such as chest and abdominal pain.
Traditionally used for skin rejuvenation, yoga and meditation, sandalwood has been found to remove negative programming from cells. In fact yogis describe sandalwood as the fragrance of the subtle body - the centre of highest insight and enlightenment. It is said to awaken the power of kundalini.
The sandalwood tree lives as a parasite; its roots bury themselves in those of its neighbours. Trees used to be cultivated for both their essential oil and their wood, which was used in ancient times to make furniture and decorate temples, as its scent repels insects. The trees felled for oil are never younger than thirty years old, and are frequently sixty-plus. Only the heart wood is used for oil production, and the mature trees are left to lie where they are felled, so the outer wood can be eaten by ants.
Approximately 25lbs of wood produces 1-1lbs of essential oil. The distillation process can take weeks and the oil needs at least two years to mellow and ripen. The best quality oil is said to come from Mysore, in Eastern India. Western Indian oil, or amyris, comes from a different species, as does Australian oil. Chinese oil is not commercially available.
The oil has been researched in Europe for use with the pineal gland in the brain, which is responsible for releasing melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that enhances deep sleep. Researchers have discovered it relaxes brain waves. It has also proven to be highly effective against streptococcus, staphylococcus and T. B. infections.
Interestingly, men's underarm perspiration contains androsterone, a substance like the hormone testosterone in structure. In light concentration it smells like sandalwood, and this is possibly why the scent is widely used in men's toiletries, sending out subtle erotic signals, perhaps. It is widely used in perfumes and is a very good fixative, although it is frequently falsified or adulterated to lower costs.
All sandalwood trees are presently the property of the Indian government, and are grown according to regulations. Tragically the trees are heading towards extinction, and are now only used for oil distillation.
Properties beneficial to the physical body: Sandalwood is especially soothing to the genito-urinary tract and its related disorders. It also supports the lymphatic, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and stimulates the immune system to help keep infections at bay. This oil can also relieve respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, sinusitis and also laryngitis. It may ease heartburn, sciatica, lumbago, and gastric upsets and cramps, and is also a diuretic.
Sandalwood is a balancing, revitalizing and rejuvenating oil for the skin, and is useful for dry, dehydrated, aging complexions, itchiness, inflammation and eczema. However its mild astringent action make it equally effective with oily skins and acne.
Scentsual blending suggestions: Sandalwood blends very well with most oils. Try it with any of the following to create your own exotic scents: Rose, vetivert, ylang ylang, benzoin, jasmine, lemon, verbena, frankincense, myrrh, neroli, palmarosa, basil, black pepper, cypress, geranium and lavender.
Alternative suggestions for use: Sandalwood is a very calming oil for use with meditation. Mixed with cocoa butter it is said to make an excellent neck cream.
Essential safety precautions: Considered a relatively safe oil, it may be wise to avoid sandalwood if you are severely depressed as its calming, sedative action might possibly lower your mood further.
Do not use essential oils undiluted or take internally without the guidance of a qualified practitioner. The information contained here is for general interest and is not intended to replace medical diagnosis or treatment.