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Santalum album

Santalum album  

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Sandalwood, Indian sandalwood, sandal tree

Original Habitat

This tree from the Santalaceae family grows to about 9 metres tall but some trees have reached 18 metres and can survive in a variety of conditions. The tree can live for 100 years and may entangle itself with trees of other species. S. album is semi-parasitic and grows in the South Pacific, India, Western tropical Africa and Southeast Asia.

Plant Part Used



The fragrant wood is used in cosmetics, perfumery and in flavourings. The oil is very scarce and expensive.[1] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is used as a single oil and sometimes in formulations. It is also used as incense.[2]


Sandalwood essential oil is derived using steam distillation. The oil is thick in viscosity and has a very light yellow colour. It has no top note and has a warm, woody yet sweet aroma.

Chemical Constituents

Sesquiterpenols: Alpha and beta santalols 67%
Aldehydes: Teresantalal [3][4]

 Note:  This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published.  The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Lymphatic and venous decongestant +++
Cardio-tonic ++

Chemopreventative: An animal study found that S. album essential oil decreased papillomas in mice, therefore warranting further study in skin cancer.[5] Other studies have shown similar chemopreventative results [6][7][8] including in UVB-induce skin cancer in mice.[9]

Larvicidal: Sandalwood essential oil was effective against mosquito larvicides.[10]

Traditional Use

Varicose veins, hemorrhoids ++

Anti-anxiety: In a palliative setting, patients were massaged with sandalwood essential oil, sweet almond oil or sandalwood using an aromastone. Because the study had such a small number of participants, a definitive conclusion could not be drawn; however the researchers did state that the study supported the indication of the relaxing effects of sandalwood oil.[11]

Sandalwood oil or alpha-santalol (a chemical component of sandalwood) was applied transdermally in healthy humans. Certain physiological parameters were measured such as blood oxygen saturation and blood pressure, and mental and emotional parameters were measured using a rating scale. The results showed that alpha-santalol had the most benefit in physiological changes acting as a relaxant.[12] Similar results have been shown using the inhalation process.[13]

Contraindications and Precautions

Although there is limited data on toxicity, this oil is considered safe at a dose of 0.0074 mg/kg orally as a flavoring agent.

Some dermal irritations have been reported.[14][15][16]

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Brocke C. Recent developments in the chemistry of sandalwood odorants. Chem Biodivers. Jun2008;5(6):1000-1010.

2.     Sugiyama S. Aromatic trees and herbs that connect Heaven and earth. Article in Japanese. Yakushigaku Zasshi. 2007;42(2):122-130.

3.     Jones CG. Isolation of cDNAs and functional characterisation of two multi-product terpene synthase enzymes from sandalwood, Santalum album L. Arch Biochem Biophys. 1 Sep2008;477(1):121-130.

4.     Jones CG. Quantitative co-occurrence of sesquiterpenes; a tool for elucidating their biosynthesis in Indian sandalwood, Santalum album. Phytochemistry. Nov2006;67(22):2463-2468.

5.     Dwivedi C. Chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil on skin papillomas in mice. Eur J Cancer Prev. Aug1997;6(4):399-401.

6.     Dwivedi C. Chemopreventive effects of alpha-santalol on skin tumor development in CD-1 and SENCAR mice. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Feb2003;12(2):151-156.

7.     Dwivedi C. Sandalwood oil prevent skin tumour development in CD1 mice. Eur J Cancer Prev. 1999 Oct;8(5):449-455.

8.     Banerjee S.  Modulatory influence of sandalwood oil on mouse hepatic glutathione S-transferase activity and acid soluble sulphydryl level. Cancer Lett. Feb1993;68(2-3):105-109.

9.     Arasada BL. Effects of alpha-santalol on proapoptotic caspases and p53 expression in UVB irradiated mouse skin. Anticancer Res. Jan-Feb2008;28(1A):129-132.

10.  Zhu J. Mosquito larvicidal activity of botanical-based mosquito repellents. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. Mar2008;24(1):161-168.

11.  Kyle G. Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care patients: results of a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. May2006;12(2):148-155.

12.  Hongratanaworakit T. Evaluation of the effects of East Indian sandalwood oil and alpha-santalol on humans after transdermal absorption. Planta Med. Jan2004;70(1):3-7.

13.  Heuberger E. East Indian Sandalwood and alpha-santalol odor increase physiological and self-rated arousal in humans. Planta Med. Jul2006;72(9):792-800.

14.  Burdocka GA. Safety assessment of sandalwood oil (Santalum album L.). Food Chem Toxicol. Feb2008;46(2):421-432.

15.  An S. Fragrance contact dermatitis in Korea: A joint study. Contact Dermatitis. Dec2005;53(6):320-323.

16.  Larsen W. Fragrance contact dermatitis: A worldwide multicenter investigation (Part I). Am J Contact Dermat. Jun1996;7(2):77-83.

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