Used widely in Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Islamic prayer practice, sandalwood is also a mainstay in Chinese and Japanese religious ceremony. The ancient Egyptians used it for embalming, and it is essential to Ayurvedic healing practice.
Sandalwood essential oil is derived from the wood and roots of the sandalwood tree, which is indigenous to India but also found in Australia, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Hawaii as well as other tropical locales. Most commonly steam-distilled, the Indian variety is considered to be of the highest quality and purity, which has driven up demand as well as the price. Dwindling forests and unsustainable forestry practices in India have had the unfortunate result of driving the price higher, and some say the genus is almost extinct in that region. Australian sandalwood, on the other hand, is considered the most sustainable and a good alternative if you have any concerns about the environment in the products you use.
Sandalwood oil is highly viscous and has a long-lasting, sweet and woody scent that it gets from santalol, the main aromatic component found in the sandalwood tree. Indian sandalwood oil is much more expensive than other varieties of sandalwood oil due to its diminishing availability.
It takes between forty and eighty years for a sandalwood tree to mature. During this time, the santalol content becomes more and more concentrated. The older the tree, the more intense the santalol; the more santalol, the greater value the oil has for therapeutic purposes.
Sandalwood essential oil is prized for its many health benefits, which include some exciting research in which it has proven effective in reducing blood glucose in mice, controlling the spread of skin cancer and reducing inflammation.
Some of the more common benefits and uses of sandalwood oil include:
Sandalwood itself does not come with any severe contraindications. It is one of only a handful of essential oils that is considered to be completely safe for topical use. Until you know your tolerance, it is tremendously important never to apply the undiluted oil directly to your skin or take internally unless you are under the direct supervision of a qualified practitioner who is certified in aromatherapy. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and when applied directly to the skin they have the potential to cause severe irritation. Always abide by recommended dilution guidelines, and if using topically for the first time, do a patch test on a small area of skin before applying liberally.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you might be, you should consult a physician before starting aromatherapy treatment. Similarly, if you suffer from allergies you should exercise great caution, as many carrier oils are nut-based and can cause severe anaphylaxis.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.
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