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Sandalwood Oil’s Proven Cancer Fighting, Sleep Supportive, And Stress-Reducing Effects

By Bertie Gutierrez

Sandalwood is one of the most treasured aromatics by aromatherapy practitioners, and perhaps one of the most treasured by human civilization as well. Recorded use of the wood and its products date back over four millennium, more than any other aromatic plant. Yet while most practitioners make use of the oil for its unequaled scent, few are aware of some of its important science-proven medicinal effects.

First just a little background — sandalwood essential oil is steam distilled from the heartwood of the sandalwood tree. Sounds pretty straightforward, until you learn that sandalwood is actually a parasite; it grows only on certain other trees in tropical environments. One cannot simply put a sandalwood seedling in the grown and coax it to grow, it has to be planted next to the right host tree, already of a certain age, for it to climb up. When harvesting the wood, which is very slow to grow, both trees need to be cut down. Clearly this presents challenges for this important resource.

The very finest oil, certainly aromatically — and some people believe therapeutically as well — is distilled from the Santalum album species native to India. The essential oil has become so highly valued that over-harvesting of the trees has made a significant impact in deforestation in certain regions. So much so that the government of India made it a law that they now own all the sandalwood trees in the country! This, of course, is meant to prevent poaching of the trees, as clearly the offense is rather serious stealing the valuable resource from the government. Thankfully, there are plantations of this same species of tree underway, and other sources of very fine sandalwood oils that are now close in rivaling the quality of the Indian material.

Obviously there must be something to this oil for it to be so prized! While the oil and the wood have been closely tied to spiritual practices for thousands of years, research laboratories are only just now uncovering some profound medicinal properties. A paste made of the wood has historically been used as medicine for the skin, and now it’s been discovered the essential oil alone can actually prevent the formation of skin cancers. When skin is pre-treated with the oil, then exposed to potentially damaging quantities of ultra-violet radiation, the formation of cancerous tumors is significantly reduced.

Researchers at South Dakota State University, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, noted “alpha-santalol, a major component of sandalwood oil, is effective in preventing skin cancer in…UVB-induced skin cancer development.” Researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver, noted that the oil caused apoptosis (normal cell death) of cells that were on their way to becoming cancerous. Clearly the essential oil makes an important therapeutic contribution to skin care formulations for those spending a lot of time in the sun.

Aside from its therapeutic effects from topical application, the oil’s aroma deeply affects our psyche. The rich, elegant scent has been shown to be both stimulating and calming at the same time. The result is a sense of clarity and awareness. Subjects being researched reported the effects of the whole sandalwood oil, and that of “alpha-santalol”. It was found that the individual constituent was stimulating to alertness and mood, though only the whole oil also resulted in greater relaxation and vigor. This very interesting mix of effects on the mind, which correlate well with the oil’s use as a meditation aid. A drop or two on the wrists, temples, or forehead is a great way to enjoy the aroma for this purpose.

Interestingly, while the oil heightens awareness, it actually supports deeper, more restful sleep. Research on the inhalation of the aroma showed that study participants usually challenged to get a good rest spent much less time awake, and the total time spent in “rapid eye movement” sleep was also increased. The affect was attributed to the oil’s action in the bloodstream after inhalation, not on the sensing of the aroma. So a gentle massage with the oil may be just as effective as using a diffuser for improved sleep with the oil.

So you can see that sandalwood oil has some wonderful, valuable therapeutic activity — features that everyone can enjoy. When shopping for the essential oil, you’ll find several varieties available. The most common are Australian and South Pacific, though you may still find some Indian available through specialty sources. Chemically, they are fairly close in their profile; the key individual constituents are present in significant quantities in each variety. You will also find is they have subtly different aromas, and you may have a strong preference for one over another. The Indian has beautiful, soft character, whereas the South Pacific is bold and masculine, and the Australian can be somewhere in between. Once you find an oil you like, buy some to put away! Sandalwood gets better (and more costly) with age — you’ll have a wonderful oil for you and your family to enjoy now and on into the future.

In addition to aromatherapy, you might consider using flower essences and remedies during this time of year. Rescue Remedy also known as the Five Flower Formula make excellent additons to any home care kit.

categories: aromatherapy,massage,yoga,alternative health,natural health,cancer,sleep,supplements,disease,illness,fitness,health

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Gutierrez, Bertie "Sandalwood Oil’s Proven Cancer Fighting, Sleep Supportive, And Stress-Reducing Effects." Sandalwood Oil’s Proven Cancer Fighting, Sleep Supportive, And Stress-Reducing Effects. 4 Jul. 2010. 12 Oct 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Gutierrez, B (2010, July 4). Sandalwood Oil’s Proven Cancer Fighting, Sleep Supportive, And Stress-Reducing Effects. Retrieved October 12, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Gutierrez, Bertie "Sandalwood Oil’s Proven Cancer Fighting, Sleep Supportive, And Stress-Reducing Effects"

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