Sandalwood essential oil is a combination of several individual components that work together to give the oil its individual properties. Alone, these components will not have the same effect as when they are combined in the oil.
Sandalwood essential oil is mainly composed of santalol, fusanol, santene, teresantol, borneol, santyl acetate and santalene. Some oils contain as much as 90% santalol but the average is 55%. Here is an explanation of the more common components and how they give sandalwood oil its healing and aromatherapy characteristics.
It is important to note that sandalwood oil is one of the most commonly impersonated oils on the market. This can be attributed to several factors. To start, the tree was almost pushed to the brink of extinction because of the high demand for the wood and oil over several centuries. The trees are now mostly grown in government protected plantations in India and Australia. If a citizen has a sandalwood tree on their property, it must be monitored by the government. The trees are now protected but it takes at least forty years for a sandalwood tree to reach maturity. A tree that is harvested before this will not yield a high quality oil. Some sandalwood oils are made from this premature wood, resulting in a very weak oil that has most likely been diluted with a different oil but not noted on the label. Some companies source their sandalwood illegally. Without knowing where the heartwood came from or the age, it is impossible for these companies to guarantee their product. Always make sure that the sandalwood oil you are purchasing is from a credited accompany that stands by the quality and authenticity of their product.
Santalol is the main component in sandalwood oil and is credited with being the driving force behind many of its properties. Santalol is an organic compound that is classified as a sesquiterpene. The amount of santalol in sandalwood oil can be higher if a tree has died and been left on site for several years. This specific compound has been at the center of many medical studies, including a 2003 study that focused on the skin cancer chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil. The component was isolated from pure sandalwood oil and administered to mice. The results were not definitive but promising enough to encourage future studies that focus on this components effect on specific cancer development.
Other studies have shown that the topical application of sandalwood oil may prevent the development of skin cancer tumors, a condition that has become more common each year. The santalol was not isolated in this study from the sandalwood oil. Instead, the oil was applied directly to skin cancer cells in a controlled environment. It showed that the sandalwood has an apoptotic effect on the cancer cells, meaning that the cancer could not multiply and the cells died.
Because santalol is classified as a sesquiterpene, it is known to be anesthetic, anti-fungal, antiseptic and antibacterial. These properties contribute to sandalwood’s long list of medicinal uses. For example, as an anesthetic, sandalwood oil can help to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with cuts, burns and sore muscles. Its anti-fungal properties help sandalwood to keep skin free of infections. As an antiseptic, the oil can be ingested and help prevent internal infections. Because it is antibacterial, sandalwood is often used to prevent external wounds from becoming infected and is also an effective ingredient to use around the home, either in cleaning products or in the laundry for a boost of freshness.
Santalic acid is a red, crystalline dye obtained from sandalwood with uncertain composition. There is very little documented research regarding this component but it certainly plays a part in sandalwood’s long list of beneficial properties.
Borneol is a bicyclic organic compound and also a terpene. It is easily oxidized and can be synthesized. Borneol is an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine called moxa. It is also a natural insect repellent. Borneol is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant. It can also be harmful if swallowed. However, the amount of borneol in sandalwood oil is minimal, making sandalwood oil a relatively safe essential oil and can be ingested in small doses without dangerous side effects. It is best to consume sandalwood oil when it has been mixed in either milk or a cream. Water will not distribute the oil evenly.
This component of sandalwood oil is known for its analgesic and diuretic properties. Sandalwood is often used as a natural treatment for urinary tract and kidney infections. This is partially because the oil is able to attack the infection from within but because it is also a diuretic, it increases the frequency and amount of urination, which helps to flush out dangerous toxins and help the body to heal faster. To treat an internal infection with sandalwood oil, consume two to three drops in a glass of water. Repeat up to twice a day until the infection is gone. If any associated pain or discomfort persists or gets worse, contact medical assistance.
The diuretic property of sandalwood can also help the body get rid of unneeded water and salt. This will help to lower blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to pump. If you are using sandalwood oil for this reason, keep an eye out for side effects. These will be rare but can be serious. Dizziness can occur so use caution when getting up from a lying or sitting position. Muscle cramps can occur but should not be persistent. Your body can be tired or weak but this symptom should improve as the body rids itself of toxins through its urine. More serious side effects include blurred vision, confusion and fever. If any of these occur, consult medical assistance. If you have been prescribed to take a diuretic, do not replace it with sandalwood oil. It is especially important to discuss sandalwood oil use with your doctor if you are already taking medication that is classified as a diuretic.