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Sandalwood: All info about the plant

Santalum Album / Sandalwood: All info about the plant - Image by xbqs42 from Pixabay
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Its pleasant scent transports us mentally to the Orient and has a calming effect on body and minds. Therefore, sandalwood and the oil extracted from the tree are widely used in cosmetics and perfume. But the plant is considered endangered and is now on the endangered species list.

It smells good, is used in natural cosmetics and aromatherapy, and is coveted as a raw material: sandalwood. But the tree grows more slowly than the demand. The sandalwood tree is on the list of endangered tree species due to overexploitation. We show which we can buy sandalwood products with a clear conscience and what sandalwood can do.

Sandalwood: A wood with many species

Not all sandalwood is the same. The supplier of genuine sandalwood products is the sandalwood tree (Santalum album). Depending on the coloration of the wood, a distinction is getting made between white and yellow sandalwood. If the color red comes into play, it has nothing to do with the original sandalwood because red sandalwood comes from a legume family tree called Pterocarpus santalinus.

Nevertheless, both tree species are on the endangered species list. Why is that? For one thing, the sandalwood tree Santalum album needs a good 15 years before it forms its first heartwood. It is from this wood that the coveted sandalwood oil is extracted. However, essential oils with a specific scent are only developed after a good 25 years of tree growth. Therefore, the supply of large, old trees does not meet the needs of the world market.

Sandalwood is an Indian plant

Genuine sandalwood comes from the white sandal tree with the botanical name Santalum Album.

The proper sandalwood tree is native only to India.

Red sandalwood is often getting used for incense. Botanically, this variety is not related to the white sandalwood tree.

The white sandalwood tree is a so-called semi-parasitic plant. It means that the sandalwood roots of the tree form sucking organs when they come into contact with the roots of other plants. In this way, the tree sucks nutrients from neighboring plants through its roots.

However, the sandal tree does not necessarily depend on host plants. It thrives without the help of neighboring plants.

A sandal tree grows between eight and ten meters tall. The trunk can reach a diameter of over two meters. 

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A beguiling fragrance with a wide range of effects

Once you have smelled sandalwood, you will hardly forget the scent.

Sandalwood exudes a warm, sweet, and woody fragrance. Responsible for this are the essential oils that are getting distilled from the heartwood of the tree.

Especially two active ingredients of these essential oils are interesting for the effect of sandalwood. One is santol, and the other is sesquiterpenols. In addition, the wood contains resin and tannins.

The essential oils have a calming effect but also a disinfecting property. For this reason, sandalwood is often getting used in cosmetics and skincare products.

The fragrance is also said to have an aphrodisiac effect. High-quality men’s perfumes often smell of sandalwood.

In Ayurvedic medicine, sandalwood is an integral part. Any mucous membrane inflammation is treated with it. It’s also getting used for kidney or bladder infections.

In many rituals in India, sandalwood is also indispensable. For example, according to Hindu beliefs, it helps to improve rebirth.

The scent has a calming effect on the soul. It is said to relieve anxiety and nervousness.

At the same time, the fragrance helps with muscle tension. Its antispasmodic property is often getting used for menstrual cramps. 

Only white sandalwood is natural sandalwood.

A great demand for sandalwood

There is a tremendous demand for sandalwood, mainly because of its pleasant fragrance.

However, natural sandalwood oil is scarce. For one thing, only truly high-quality oils can be distilled from a sandalwood tree that is at least 30 years old.

Secondly, only two distilleries in India supply sandalwood oil in the so-called Mysore quality, i.e., really high and good quality.

It can be expected that most of the oil used for room fragrances are either not genuine sandalwood oil or only one of inferior quality. 

Sandalwood for healthy hair: how it works for hair loss.

Artificially produced variants of fragrances, such as those found in sandalwood, affect hair growth. Whether sandalwood helps for healthy hair and the new miracle cure for hair loss.

Sandalwood as a helper for healthy hair

Studies have found that synthetically produced variants of sandalwood fragrances affect hair growth.

Hair follicles, the small invaginations of the scalp from which hair grows, have receptors that react to artificial fragrances.

It prolongs the growth phases of the hair, increases hair growth, and delays the death of hair. It also counteracts hair loss.

However, getting natural sandalwood oil and massaging it into the scalp is likely to be ineffective—only the synthetic variants of the fragrance bind to the appropriate receptors of the scalp.

Further studies are needed to eventually produce a reliable hair loss remedy based on artificial sandalwood fragrances. 

Sandalwood oil: effect and application of the essential oil.

With its sweet and, at the same time, tart scent, sandalwood oil is a popular remedy for the body and mind.

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Sandalwood oil – the effect on body and psyche

The woody-sweet oil, obtained from sandalwood, acts on our body and psyche’s most diverse areas. Several studies have scientifically proved it.

Those who struggle with skin blemishes or even acne may have heard of the miracle cure. According to one study, the oil is beneficial against this complaint due to its anti-inflammatory effect.

The oil is also said to have an analgesic effect. At the same time, it helps to speed up the healing of external wounds.

Sandalwood oil strengthens the immune system, in many cases lowers high blood pressure, and – due to its antispasmodic effect – is even used against menstrual cramps.

It can influence not only our body but also our psyche with the help of oil. One of the best-known areas for which it is getting used is stress relief. The oil has a very stimulating effect on the senses and induces relaxation and calmness.

Even in severe cases, be it anxiety or depression, sandalwood oil proves to be a true all-rounder. Due to the soothing scent, tension is getting released, anxiety or nervousness fades away, and negative vibrations are let out of the body. 

Areas of application of the essential oil

Due to the versatile effect, the oil is used in a wide variety of areas. Not for nothing is the oil, also called balm for the soul or essence of the gods.

Especially in India, the country of origin, and here in America, the oil is used for spiritual rituals – for example, meditation or yoga classes.

We can find it in a variety of products, from perfume to cosmetics to massage oil.

However, if you want to test the pure oil on your skin, you should mix it with other oils, such as sunflower oil. Otherwise, the smell is very intense. 

Sandalwood oil is used for a wide variety of applications, from yoga to fighting acne.

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Sustainability aspects of the oil

Sustainability is one of the essential points nowadays, especially when it comes to products from nature. Thus, the question arises here, how ecological is the oil extracted from the sandalwood.

The sandalwood tree is endangered because the strong demand ensures continuous mining. In India, specific rules have already been established in this regard to prevent extinction.

Thus, the search for similar, related tree species is excellent. There have already been successful discoveries in China, the Caribbean, or Australia. However, in terms of the environment, it is also apparent, as with the sandalwood tree in India, that the transport routes are far too long.

So that the endangered tree species and related species do not completely disappear and there is no overexploitation, it should dispense with the oil. Alternatively, you can replace it with regional oils, such as lavender oil

What does sandalwood do?

Sandalwood essential oil extracted from the wood has antispasmodic, antibacterial, and antiviral effects against herpes viruses. The essential oil extracted from the reddish heartwood plays a vital role in the perfume industry.

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What is sandalwood fragrance?

Sandalwood is a mixture of different woods that come from other trees. Sandalwood is considered one of the fakest wood fragrances. Sandalwood fragrance has a warm, masculine note and is essential, especially in perfume making.

Is sandalwood toxic?

Sandalwood essential oil has urinary disinfectant effects; it can be toxic to the kidneys in higher doses and prolonged use. Risks of the intended use of therapeutic doses of the drug are not known.

Where is sandalwood found?

The best known of these is the “Santalum albus” wood, derived from white sandalwood. This tree is native to India. Nowadays, farmers in China and Indonesia also plant sandalwood. In India, the oil of the sandalwood tree has been used for medicinal purposes for over 3000 years.

How is sandalwood smoked?

Usually, sandalwood, like oud, is smoked on charcoal. Here, however, we should avoid charcoal with a strong odor or with synthetic chemicals.

What does sandalwood look like?

Appearance and leaf. The sandalwood tree grows as an evergreen, small tree that reaches growth heights of up to 4 meters in Australia and 20 meters in India. The cylindrical trunk can get a circumference of over 1.5 meters.

How is sandalwood produced?

Natural sandalwood oil is produced from the tree Santalum album. It grows exclusively in India. Only after about 25 to 30 years can the oil be extracted from the tree’s wood and roots.