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For thousands of years, Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) has been revered for its therapeutic properties and signature scent - it is a true natural commodity for the senses.
Today, it continues to garner attention on a global stage, as studies reveal the true versatility of this natural wellbeing ingredient. Beyond its traditional uses, its functional fragrance and proven active benefits reveal the journey of Indian sandalwood is only beginning.
Discover the diverse range of industries harnessing the benefits of Indian sandalwood below.
Sandalwood has been used in aromatherapy across many cultures for centuries. It has now grown in popularity globally with studies showing that the active ingredient in Indian sandalwood oil (alpha-santalol) calms the body and mind, reacting with different regulatory systems to elicit a physiological response.
Adored by perfumers globally for its classic woody aroma and fixative properties, Indian sandalwood oil has a history spanning 4,000 years. It is an essential base note, with nearly 50% of perfumes created since 1790 containing sandalwood notes. Indian sandalwood and Australian sandalwood are considered the most important varieties.
In addition to its therapeutic benefits, the use of Indian sandalwood in carvings for handicrafts and furniture is a long-standing tradition.
In China, Indian sandalwood was widely used by royals for furniture, carvings, and handicrafts and has been highly revered for its associated symbolic significance – representing exquisite taste and high social status. While in Sri Lanka, it was used to carve the first known sculpture of Buddha.
Synonymous with ritualism and spirituality, sandalwood has been used in incense since ancient times due to its striking, natural, and long-lasting fragrance and calming properties.
Incense culture first emerged in China during the Qin Dynasty (221BC – 206BC) and its use grew beyond bath incense and ritual, to religious practice driven by the spread of Buddhism and medical application during the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220AD). Deeply embedded in Japanese culture the art of incense was first introduced to Japan with Buddhism in 500AD. Translated as ‘fragrance’, incense is both an exploration of scent and patience, and a purification of mind and body.
Today, science has confirmed what our ancestors already knew – that Indian sandalwood is a potent natural active ingredient with multi-faceted benefits. It is the perfect ingredient for holistic cosmetic applications, proven to protect the skin and calm the mind.
In addition to the active benefits, the functional fragrance of sandalwood makes it a powerful ingredient in other personal care areas such as shower and bath and air care.
Known as Tan Xiang, sandalwood has been a part of TCM practices for thousands of years however, according to the Chinese Pharmacopeia, only Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) is permissible for use in formulations.
Well known for its healing properties in treating cardiovascular-related diseases, skin diseases, acne, anxiety, fatigue, nervous tension, eczema, and stress amongst other things, Indian sandalwood has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Highly versatile, Indian sandalwood has been used for thousands of years for a myriad of applications. Proven to calm the mind and relieve anxiety, reduce signs of aging, and smooth and brighten skin, Indian sandalwood has also been coveted for its medicinal and spiritual uses and as an iconic perfumery material.
Today, modern science not only supports traditional beliefs but reveals new ways to experience sandalwood’s benefits.