Sandalwood - Santalum spicatum

Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

4 minutes to read
Miki Tameishi

Miki Tameishi

ITEC Therapist (Aromatherapy, Holistic Massage, Reflexology), IEB Reflexologist, LCICI Japan Champissage trainer, Chakra-Aroma Reiki Master, Hbps Hydrotherapist

Evidence Based Potential Allergens

Research has shown that sandalwood has amazing antiviral activity against herpes and significant effectiveness against staphylococcus aureus (better than tea tree oil).

But this essential oil is also calmining, and can help with 

  • Skin conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Nervous tensions
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Depression

Also, the high concentration of alpha-santalol stimulates the pineal gland, making sandalwood essential oil ideal for meditation sessions.


Sandalwood is a versatile oil and mentioned in many textbooks used in Clinical Aromatherapy classes. 

In Japan, Byakudan is another name for sandalwood. Its “holly” scent reminds us of incense at grandparents’ houses or temples.

There are several types of sandalwood such as those from 

  • East India
  • China 
  • Indonesia
  • South and Western Australia
  • Philippines 

For this article, we have picked Australian sandalwood,  which Miki normally uses on her clients.

Common name: Sandalwood. 

Botanical name: Santalum spicatum.

Family name: Santalaceae.

Extraction methods: Sandalwood essential oil is obtained by a combination of solvent extraction and steam distillation of of S.spicatum.[1]

Parts used: The S.spicatum heartwood is the part that is mainly used to extract the essential oil.[2]

Countries: Australia. 

Colour: A light clear brownish tinge or pale yellow. Viscosity is honey-like and smooth.

Odour/smell: The top note is woody and extremely tenacious with sweet dry Oriental calming odour.

Properties: Antifungal, antibacterial, antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, aids and support the nervous system, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant and sedative.[1,2]

Chemical composition: Sandalwood oil is nearly all sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols.

Sandalwood essential oil - chemical composition

Alpha-santalol in sandalwood stimulates the pineal gland by releasing endorphins which help to release tension and relax an overactive mind.

Farnesol has antimicrobial and bactericidal qualities

While alpha-bisabolol and santales have excellent anti-inflammatory action.[2] Important to mention is that alpha-santalol also displays anticarcinogenic activity.[3]

Traditional uses

Noongar people from Western Australia who live in a region known as Geraldton know the sandalwood plant as 

  • Uilarac
  • Waang
  • Wolgol
  • Wollgat

Over the last few hundred years, if not thousands, they have learnt the value and properties of sandalwood and have used it in carvings as well as smoking ceremonies.[2]

Quandong nut
Ripe quandong nut

The Aboriginal people made cough medicine by soaking or boiling the bark in water. The ground under the sandalwood tree is usually littered with past season’s seeds, known as quandong nut, and are used by the Aboriginal people to alleviate cold and stiffness.[1]

Therapeutic uses

During massages some of my clients sometimes have an emotional release and cry. To calm them down, I normally use sandalwood. Also, clients that have skin issues related to stress find sandalwood helping.

Integumentary system and sandalwood

In a study by Benecia and Courreges (1999), sandalwood was found to have the most antiviral activity against herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), and moderate activity against HSV-2.[4]

Sandalwood and antiviral activity against herpes
Sandalwood and other essential oils and antiviral activity against herpes
Source: Koch, C. Inhibitory effect of essential oils against herpes simplex virus type 2. Phytomedicine, Volume 15 (2008).

Sandalwood oil also has considerable antimicrobial effects and is recommended for bacterial and fungal infection. We also see a strong anti-inflammatory effect in the management of conditions such as 

  • Psoriasis dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Scalp irritations[1]

Research shows that Australian sandalwoods has excellent effectiveness against staphylococcus aureus, demonstrating higher efficacy than tea tree oil.[2]

Sandalwood is used for dry, hot and red skin conditions caused by a loss of moisture and skin inflammation, such as

  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Oily skin 
  • Acne

Nervous system and sandalwood

Sandalwood oil has a relaxing effect and may be useful for hot and agitated emotional states such as headaches, depression, insomnia, nervous tension, and stress-related complaints.

Sandalwood helps mental clarity and aids sleeping

Respiratory system and sandalwood

The anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties help resolve respiratory congestion, and are especially useful when soothing, demulcent effects are required when dealing with

  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Bronchitis 
  • Tonsillitis
  • Earache
  • Sinusitis

Sandalwood can also be used to alleviate asthma symptoms

It does this by relaxing the muscles during an asthma attack and reducing swelling and irritation in the airways.[1]  

In her book, Deby Atterby ads sandalwood essential oil to her cough syrup to help settle the mucous membrane irritation caused by a continuous cough.[2]

How to use

Sandalwood oil can be used for

  • Topical application (facial cleanser, toner, facial cream, and facial oil)
  • Massage
  • Compress
  • Bath
  • Sauna
  • Room sprays
  • Ointment
  • Amigel
  • Inhalation (direct inhalation, aroma diffuser, oil vaporiser)

Other uses

Sandalwood was previously used as a pharmaceutical disinfectant, and today we see it as an ingredient to fragrances and as a fixative in soaps, detergents, cosmetics, and perfumes.[5]

Essential oils inhalation instructions

  • Tissue or handkerchief – 1 drop
  • Water bowls – 1 to 9 drops 
  • Candle / scented light bulbs – 1 to 2 drops 
  • Vapour – 2 to 3 drops 
  • Diffuser – 1 to 6 drops 
  • Humidifiers – 1 to 9 drops
Essential oils instructions

Essential oils bath instructions

  • Bath – 1 to 8 drops 
  • Shower – 1 to 8 drops
  • Hand bath – 2 to 4 drops 
  • Foot bath – 1 to 6 drops
  • Sauna – 2 drops per 600ml water[5]

Essential oils massage instructions

Ron Guba generally recommends a dilution from 2.5% to 10% essential oil in different carrier oils. 

As an example, you can add 8 drops (2.5%) of essential oil to 10ml of vegetable oils.[6]

Robert Tisserand’s table recommends topical percentages and dilution guideline.[7] See below.

Purpose of the essential oil mixture

Dilution range

Facial cosmetics


Body massage


Bath & body products


Specific problems


Pain, wounds


Essential oil dilution guidelines

Essential oils dilution guidelines and chart

Aromatherapy blends

A good combination for sandalwood are 

  • floral essential oils (jasmine, violet, rose)

         RELATED — Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum, Officinale)

  • herbal essential oils (lavender, clary sage, rosemary, basil)
  • woody essential oils (cypress, rosewood, ciderwood)
  • spice essential oils (black pepper, benzoin, juniper, patchouli, lemongrass)

RELATED — Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

  • oriental essential oils (ylang ylang)
  • citrus essential oils (bergamot, orange, grapefruit, mandarin)

RELATED — Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis)

Herpes simplex 1 blend (massage)

Apply to the affected (mouth) area.

  • Niauli CT1 – 3 drops
  • Australian sandalwood – 2 drops
  • Peppermint – 1 drop
  • Lavender spica – 2 drops
  • Carrier (vegetable) oil – 10ml

Relaxing sleeping blend (massage)

Apply to the chest and solar plexus.

  • True lavender – 2 drops
  • Australian sandalwood – 2 drops
  • Mandarine – 2 drops
  • Petitgrain – 2 drops
  • Carrier (vegetable) oil – 10ml

Asthma blend (massage)

Apply to the chest and upper back area.

  • Australian sandalwood – 3 drops
  • Cypress – 1 drop
  • Basil – 1 drop
  • Eucalyptus radiata – 1 drop
  • Petitgrain – 2 drops
  • Carrier (vegetable) oil – 10ml

Acne reduction blend (massage)

Apply to affected areas.

  • Lavender spica – 3 drops
  • Australian sandalwood – 2 drops
  • Bay laurel – 2 drops
  • Cinnamon – 1 drop
  • Carrier (vegetable) oil – 10ml

RELATED — Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Deby Atterby rheumatoid arthritis salve formulation

In the cooler months, apply the salve (instructions below) to the affected area using approximately one tablespoon. Wrap the area. Use in the evenings prior to going to bed.[2]

Ingredients (total 100g)

  • Beeswax – 12g
  • Coconut oil – 45ml
  • Calendula – 30ml
  • St John Wort infused oil – 15ml
  • Australia sandalwood – 3 drops
  • Fragonia – 3 drops
  • Eucalyptus radiata – 3 drops
  • Clove – 2 drops
  • Peppermint – 2 drops
  • Anise myrtle – 1 drop


Melt the wax then pour the calendula, St John Wort, and coconut oil. Cool the mixture before adding the essential oils.

Precaution and Safety

Australian sandalwood is non toxic, a non irritant and non sensitising. It is approved by Australian TGA for direct application to the skin, but patch testing is recommended where skin integrity might be weak.[2]

If you have any questions about sandalwood essential oil, please let us know in the comment section below.

Miki is a Japanese-born traditionally trained massage therapist and aromatherapy practitioner. She has Japanese expertise, techniques and Western training. Miki has studied in both Asian and Western modalities.

Miki can be found at Herbal Aroma Spa and Wellness shop and LCICI Japan School – NZ. For more information on Miki, please visit HanaAkari.


(1) Battaglia, S.(2003). The complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2nd Ed. The international centre of aromatherapy.

(2) Atterby, D. (2021). Australian Essential oil profiles practical and clinical guidelines.

(3) Tisserand, R. (2015). Essential oil safety second edition.

(4) Buckle ,J. (2003). Clinical aromatherapy, 2nd Ed. Elsevier.

(5) Lawless, J. (1995). Complete essential oils. Element.

(6) Guba, R. (2006). Aromatherapy and Regenerative skin care. The Centre for Aromatic Medicine.

(7) Tisserand, R. (2015). Tisserand institute. Retrieved from

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