Sandalwood oil is an oil that is extracted from aromatic plant of the Santalum genus and has been used as part of several religious ceremonies for thousands of years. It has also been valued as a popular ingredient in many herbal and ‘natural’ remedies, and is a favourite in commercial skin products. But what does it do and is there any truth to the purported benefits?
The most notable feature of sandalwood oil is the cooling sensation it creates when applied directly to the skin. This makes it effective as a pain killer for numbing the sensation of pain caused by rashes and skin irritation as well as headaches – though it can be quite strong when applied in large quantities. This also makes it useful as an oil used in massage.
The main ingredient of sandalwood oil is sesquiterpenic alcohol. This makes it relatively effective as a disinfectant which makes it suitable for treating, though no more so than regular alcohol.
Sandalwood oil is also useful in aromatherapy, and it has been suggested that the oil can be burned in order to help address anxiety. Sandalwood oil is sweet smelling and a pleasant ingredient for burning, however some studies have suggested that it may cause increased heart rate, which might contradict this usage. However the sweet smell makes it useful in the creation of several perfumes and in soaps. Some religious practices will place dabs of sandalwood beneath their nostrils to help them reach a meditative state (possible caused by alcoholic fumes).
Sandalwood oil is also promoted as a home remedy for a range of problems including digestive issues, dizziness, fever and stroke by herbalists. However there is no concrete evidence for these applications and it is not recommended that you follow this advice without consulting with a qualified physician. Even if sandalwood were to have anticarcinogenic properties, there are better and proven methods to help combat cancer.