Sandalwood Oil: Benefits, Dosage, And Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Johnson, Certified Medical Practitioner & Aromatherapist
by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Sandalwood essential oil is an important export commodity in several countries and has been used since ancient times for its fragrance and medicinal properties (1).

Different kinds of sandalwood are found in different countries. The East Indian sandalwood oil obtained from Santalum album, in particular, is widely used to treat various human ailments (2).

Both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have been using sandalwood oil to treat a variety of ailments. The US FDA has listed it as a natural flavoring ingredient, and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has listed it as a potent medicine (1).

These facts tell us a lot about sandalwood essential oil already. In this post, we will specifically tell you why you must use this oil and the ways it can benefit you.

What Are The Medicinal Properties Of Sandalwood Essential Oil?

Sandalwood essential oil is (2), (3):

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antihyperglycemic
  • Antioxidant
  • Antineoplastic
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-tanning
  • Anti-aging
  • Skin softening
  • Anti-acne
  • A Prickly heat solution
  • Chemopreventive

What Are The Benefits Of Sandalwood Essential Oil?

1. May Improve Complexion

Alpha-santalol, another major constituent of sandalwood oil, inhibits tyrosinase and cholinesterase (enzymes that catalyze the production of melanin pigments). Due to this activity, the oil is an active ingredient in several skincare products (4).

Sandalwood essential oil is also enriched with sesquiterpenoids (molecules that deliver oxygen molecules to cells), which act as coolants and relaxants (4).

Some believe sandalwood oil may also help remove dark spots, although there is no research to support this.

2. May Treat Acne

Sandalwood essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-proliferative properties. Hence, it can be a promising treatment for acne and other skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, warts, etc. (1).

Adolescents and adult subjects with moderate facial acne who used sandalwood oil saw an improvement in their symptoms without any side effects (1).

Data from various studies state that sandalwood oil is well tolerated and safe. The oil is now being manufactured in compliance with the current Good Manufacturing Practices (1). 

3. May Stimulate Hair Growth

Sandalwood oil was found to reduce the number of mast cells in mice studies. These cells are distributed around the hair follicles and could be responsible for shortening the hair growth stage (5). The oil could also promote hair growth in mice (5).

Researchers from the University of Manchester found that a sandalwood odorant could stimulate a certain receptor (called OR2AT4) in the body, which may prolong hair growth (6). More studies are needed to understand how well this odorant promotes hair growth in humans.

4. May Promote Sleep

Santalol, an active component of the oil, helps reduce the total waking time and increases the total non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phase of sleep (7).

Santalol is absorbed into the blood via the respiratory mucosa and is hence effective in promoting sleep. The essential oil can help individuals who have trouble falling asleep (7).

5. May Reduce Anxiety

Aromatherapy using sandalwood oil is effective in reducing anxiety. In studies, sandalwood oil (along with other oils) could reduce anxiety in women who were undergoing breast biopsies and in palliative care patients (8), (9).

Though the results seemed to support the idea that sandalwood oil may reduce anxiety, more large-scale studies are warranted (9).

6. May Fight Inflammation

Sandalwood oil inhibits oxidative enzymes and protects against oxidative stress. As per research, the oil suppresses the production of several pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines (compounds produced during inflammation) (1).

7. May Treat Urinary Tract Infections

Sandalwood oil also possesses antipyretic, antiseptic, and diuretic properties and can be effective in treating diseases of the urinary tract (10). 

It is also believed that sandalwood oil may have a disinfecting action that treats infections of the urinary tract. However, more research is warranted here.

8. Could Act As An Antiseptic Agent

Sandalwood oil has antiseptic properties. It could be effective in the treatment of bronchitis, cystitis, and dysuria (10).

As it is a potent antiseptic and astringent, it may be used to treat inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis (11).

9. May Boost Memory

Sandalwood essential oil can be used to promote mental clarity and boost memory (12).

A study conducted using mouse models has demonstrated significant improvement in learning and memory following the use of the essential oil. This was especially true during the growth spurt period (13).

10. May Control Blood Pressure Levels

In a study, different types of sandalwood essential oils could significantly reduce systolic blood pressure. The oil, along with other essential oils, could help in the recovery from stress (14). 

Some research shows that a specific type of sandalwood powder contains mildly sedative ganglionic blockers or hypotensive agents that may help lower blood pressure (12).

11. Could Reduce Stress

Aromatherapy using essential oils has been effective in reducing stress.

Researchers investigating the physiological effects of sandalwood essential oil on human beings found that the oil could alleviate the physiological reactions to stress. The oil was also found to ease recovery after being exposed to stress (14).

12. May Help Relieve Menopause Symptoms

Essential oils have specific properties that ease and balance menopausal symptoms. Sandalwood oil contains sesquiterpenols that calm your nervous system down – and this might help ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes (15).

In clinical studies, the oil has also been found to offer relaxing properties (15).

13. May Reduce Body Odor

There is little research here. Some reports suggest that the delightful aroma of sandalwood powder may help rid of body odor that could come from excessive sweating (3).

The oil may also alleviate unpleasant body odor, though research is limited. It is valued highly for its fragrant heartwood and is used in perfumes for its excellent fixative properties (3). 

Insufficient Evidence For

14. May Help Relieve Stomach Issues

Sandalwood essential oil is believed to have been used in Chinese medicine to treat stomach pain and vomiting. It is thought that the antiviral and antibacterial activities of the oil help fight against Helicobacter pylori (the leading cause of stomach ulcers).

15. May Boost Immunity

Aromatherapy with essential oils like that of sandalwood is thought to boost your immunity by prompting your body to heal itself. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the oil promotes white blood cell production, fights microorganisms, and also improves immune responses in your body. However, more research is warranted in this aspect.

The benefits are amazing, aren’t they? Sandalwood essential oil has other interesting uses too. Check them out in the following section.

What Are The Other Known Uses Of Sandalwood Essential Oil?

  • In Massaging

Sandalwood oil has been extensively used in aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massages. The oil has been reported to reduce anxiety in patients under palliative care who were treated with aromatherapy massages (9). Massaging with sandalwood essential oil also makes your skin very soft (3).

  • In Cosmetics

The cosmetic use of sandalwood essential oil has been described in ancient literature. It has been used to make soaps, perfumes, and aromatherapy products. Its wide range of medicinal properties makes sandalwood essential oil one of the best and most reliable ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products (3).

  • In Ayurveda

Sandalwood oil has been used in Ayurvedic massages and medicines to treat various ailments, such as diarrhea, intrinsic hemorrhage bleeding piles, vomiting, poisoning, hiccoughs, urticaria, eye infections, and the inflammation of umbilicus (12).

  • In Bath

Sandalwood oil has maintained the original fragrance and properties of soaps intact. The essential oil provides smoothening, hydrating, anti-aging, and moisturizing effects. It also has excellent cleansing, toning, and astringent properties, which make it a prominent ingredient in soaps and creams (3).

  • Ingestion

Sandalwood essential oil has been long used in food as a flavoring agent. It has no reported adverse effects and is considered safe (16).

  • In Perfumes

Sandalwood essential oil has a sweet, powerful, and long-lasting fragrance (12). Due to its excellent fixative properties, sandalwood oil has been used to make high-class perfumes (3).

  • In Aromatherapy

Sandalwood essential oil has been widely used as an aromatherapy agent. Its main component is alpha-santalol, whose antimicrobial properties make it an ideal ingredient in aromatherapy products (3).

The uses of the essential oil are extensive. But we recommend you check the next section as well. The oil might show some adverse effects in some individuals, though they aren’t serious.

What Are The Side Effects Of Sandalwood Essential Oil?

A few possible side effects of the oil could be dermatitis and itching. In animal studies, the oil was also found to be irritating to the skin (17).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the oil may also cause gastrointestinal distress, although this has not been proven.

Certain oils used in aromatherapy, in general, were also found to be likely to cause seizures, coma, and CNS depression in animals (18). If sandalwood oil would have the same effects is yet to be studied.

Please consult your doctor if you are susceptible to any of these conditions.

What Is The Recommended Dosage Of Sandalwood Oil?

Though the ideal dosage of the oil is not proven yet, some believe taking 1 to 1.5 grams of the oil every day (for a maximum period of six weeks) can help treat urological problems. 

As a flavoring ingredient, its recommended dosage is 0.0074 mg of the oil per 1 kg (16).

There is no information on potential drug interactions with the use of this oil.

Conclusion

From being used in perfumes to offering enormous medicinal benefits, sandalwood essential oil has a multitude of uses. It’s no wonder that this oil has been used since time immemorial for its wide range of medicinal properties. However, more research is needed to confirm its health benefits. Hence, it is best to consult your doctor before using this oil.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What essential oils can you blend with sandalwood essential oil?

You can mix the following essential oils with sandalwood essential oil:

  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Vetiver
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Rose

How to make sandalwood essential oil at home?

Purchase sandalwood chips or sandalwood powder online or from health stores. If you have purchased sandalwood chips, use a mortar pestle or a coffee bean grinder to crush them. Mix the powder with a cup of olive oil and let it sit for a week. Keep shaking it occasionally.

Strain the mixture and push down the sandalwood powder to extract as much oil as possible. Store this home-made sandalwood essential oil in a glass bottle (in a cool, dark place). Remember that the homemade oil can be as potent as one that you buy from the store – and it can be strong enough to cause allergic reactions. Thus, exercise caution. Please do a patch test before using it.

Why is sandalwood essential oil so expensive?

A short supply and a high demand for sandalwood are the main reasons the essential oil is expensive. Also, it takes about 15 years for a sandalwood tree to produce a viable quantity of heartwood. Harvesting takes over 25 to 30 years.

Can sandalwood essential oil help with weight loss?

There is no research stating that the oil may help with weight loss.

18 sources

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.
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