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Sandalwood Benefits for Anxiety

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Updated July 07, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Sandalwood Is:

Sandalwood trees (santalum album, also known as white sandalwood or East Indian sandalwood) are native to the Mediterranean region. Sandalwood has many uses, and medicinally it has been used for pain relief, anti-inflammatory and sedative purposes. As an essential oil, sandalwood is used for physical ailments, as a flavor for food, and for raising mood and reducing nervous tension and anxiety. The fragrance is a woody scent that is mild and sweet.

Sandalwood and Social Anxiety Disorder:

No scientific studies have specifically examined the benefits of sandalwood use for social anxiety disorder (SAD). In a 2000 systematic review of aromatherapy studies, Cook and Ernst reported that in general, aromatherapy was helpful in reducing anxiety and stress in the short-term. More research is needed to support the use of sandalwood for the treatment of SAD.

How to Use Sandalwood:

Sandalwood is usually used in the form of an essential oil as part of aromatherapy. The scent can be applied directly to the skin, inhaled, or burned as incense.

Who Shouldn’t Use Sandalwood:

When applied to the body, some people may experience an allergic reaction to sandalwood oil.

Side Effects of Sandalwood:

When sandalwood oil is applied to the skin there is some risk of skin irritation.

Risks Associated with Sandalwood:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

Sources:

Burdock GA, Carabin IG. Safety assessment of sandalwood oil. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2008;46(2):421-432.

Cooke B, Ernst E. Aromatherapy: A systematic review. British Journal of General Practice: 2000; 493-495.

Padecky, K. Essential Oil of the Month: Sandalwood. Accessed January 11, 2010.

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