Sandalwood - Useful Herb for Skin Disease


Santalum album Santalaceae

A small tree grown mainly in India, sandalwood is the source oj a valuable oil used in peifumes, soaps and incenses. Sandalwood oil has long been used to scent and pur[fy the air in the home and in places if worship: when burned as joss sticks or in an oil burner it releases a sweet, soothing aroma. The wood itself is prized Jar woodcarving.

Parts used

  • Heart of the trunk
  • The heartwood is yellowish and has a subtle scent.
  • It can be gathered at any time of year but is at its best in summer.
  • Powdered sandalwood is used in the perfume industry and to make capsules, infusions, decoctions and extracts for use in aromatherapy.
  • Its essential oil is an ingredient in many creams and balms.


Sandalwood contains a pigment called santalene, which is the source of its red colour. Its essential oil is rich in terpenes - specifically santalol - which give it its pleasing aroma and are thought to have sedative properties. Sandalwood also contains resins, which have antiseptic and antifungal actions and stimulate the immune system to fight infection. Its astringent tannins have antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties


For external use

TO TREAT abdominal and chest pains
ESSENTIAL Oil Dilute, allowing 3 drops to 10ml of carrier oil. Massage into affected areas.
TO TREAT skin infections ESSENTIAL Oil Dilute a few drops in 180ml of water and apply to the affected area three times a day.


Medicinal uses

Sandalwood's essential oil was used for a long time as a cure for gonorrhoea, cystitis and other urinary infections. It was also prescribed for skin diseases and acne. Traditional Chinese practitioners use sandalwood oil as a sedative.

Today, antibiotics are used to treat most genitourinary infections. However, modern herbalists still prescribe sandalwood as a diuretic, to combat water retention and oedema (swelling) in the lower legs. And Chinese practitioners use it as a painkiller for gum pain, toothache, gastric problems and migraines.

Japanese studies published in 2000 found that the terpene, santalol, had analgesic effects on rats. It is believed to relieve abdominal pain and chest pain.

The scent of sandalwood is reputed to calm the mind, and it is often used in Buddhist monasteries as an aid to meditation; it is used for the same purpose in some British monastic communities.

Sandalwood may have cancerfighting properties: American research carried out in 1997 suggested that the oil slows down the development of skin tumours. It also inhibits the proliferation ofviruses: an in vitro study conducted in Argentina in 1999 showed that sandalwood oil acted against the herpes viruses responsible for genital herpes and coldsores.


  • Do not take sandalwood essential oil internally unless advised to do so by a medical herbalist or doctor, and then for no longer than six weeks.
  • Internal use is not recommended for people with kidney disorders, for for children, or for pregnant or breastfeeding women.


Sandalwood, rarely cultivated outside the tropics, is parasitic and needs a host tree nearby for its roots to suck on. It likes light shade and moist, well-drained, fertile soil.


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