Sandalwood essential oil
WHAT IS THE FANCY LATIN NAME?
Santalum alba, or Santalum spicatum
WHERE DOES SANDALWOOD COME FROM?
India and Australia, predominantly. The Indian species, Santalum alba, is the most revered form, but is now endangered due to aggressive harvesting practices, and the essential oil supply is very limited. We use wild Australian sandalwood, Santalum spicatum, which is wild or plantation-grown and ethically harvested, with sustainability practices monitored closely by the Australian government. The aromatic profile of the Australian species is similar to that of the Indian species, especially as the oil wears on the skin over time.
WHAT ARE SANDALWOOD'S AROMATHERAPY AND MEDICINAL USES?
Sandalwood has been used in religious and social ceremonies for millennia, and is still used to facilitate meditation, move through stages of grief, and encourage creativity. It is also used to aid in cases of depression and anxiety, and is an effective aphrodisiac. It may help in some cases of insomnia. In Ayurveda, sandalwood is used to calm excess Pitta (fire). Traditional Chinese medicine uses sandalwood to cool inflamed conditions of the gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and pulmonary systems.
DOES SANDALWOOD HAVE SKINCARE USES?
Sandalwood is a mild astringent, and has antibacterial qualities. It is also anti-inflammatory, and can be useful for certain skin irritations like acne and eczema. Red sandalwood powder, which comes from a completely different family of trees than sandalwood oil, is used as a mild exfoliant and skin brightener.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT SANDALWOOD?
Sandalwood essential oil is harvested when the trees are between 30 and 50 years old - good things DO come to those who wait. The oil has been used in perfumery for over 2000 years and is generally considered safe during pregnancy.
Sandalwood has a scandalous history, mostly centered around illegal smuggling of the highly valuable wood and essential oil. The most famous sandalwood smuggler was an Indian bandit called Veerappan, who murdered over 100 people in his smuggling career, and was finally killed by a special task force called Operation Cocoon in 2004. The Indian people celebrated his death. He was also an elephant poacher, so he was a doubly unpopular guy.
One last fact: Sandalwood trees are parasitic in nature, meaning that they derive some or all of their nutrients from the roots of other living plants. (Feed me, Seymour!) As you can imagine, this makes it all the more difficult to grow, as you have to provide adequate host plants in addition to the sandalwood trees themselves.
With love and so much (sustainably-sourced) sandalwood from us to you,
The information contained in this post is for educational interest only and is not intended to represent claims for actions of sandalwood. This information is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any physical or mental illness or disease.