Botanical name: Santalum album
Plant part: Wood
Cultivation: Wild-Harvested (Sustainably Sourced)
Extraction: Steam distillation
Mysore aka East Indian Sandalwood is obtained from the wood of mature (30-80 years old) Santalum album a tree native to the Mysore (Mysuru) district of Karnakata in India and the quality of essential oil produced is directly influenced by the tree’s age i.e. older tree, better oil.
The main and most important constituent that gives a lot of its amazing benefits and its primary active components are the Sesquiterpenes: α-Santano and β-Santanoll, Santyl acetate and Santalene, which occur in the highest quantity in Santalum album but are also available in lower quantities in other lesser Santalum spp.
Unfortunately, the ever-increasing demand for this gorgeous essential oil has led to over-harvesting and as a result, Santalum album is rapidly in danger of extinction in and has been placed on the Conservation Red list of Critically Endangered species.
This has prompted the Indian Government to place very strict restrictions on felling these trees and or exporting its derivatives as well as initiating an ongoing effort to create sustainability by planting more trees. Sadly, this is not an easy tree to propagate as it needs to host off other plants with strict not totally understood environmental requirements plus the time it needs to mature, if one can lay one’s hands on a bottle of this amazing ancient oil, it is advisable that they use it sparingly, not just because of its ever skyrocketing price (half a liter of pure Santalum album essential oil can cost over $3,000), but replacing it is becoming increasingly difficult year in year out. On the bright side this oil, unlike many others, only improves with age.
All these factors have made Mysore Sandalwood one of the most scarce, rare and expensive essential oils on the market and not surprisingly, one of the most adulterated.
This has expanded the focus to other Santalum spp. With the closest in composition and benefits being Hawaiian Sandalwood (Santalum ellipticum), also quite expensive and scarce, others are New Caledonian Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum), Royal Hawaiian (Santalum paniculatum) not as beneficial but comparably more affordable and Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum ), which is the least beneficial of them all but is cheaper and more readily available.
All of this has created a gap in the market where demand for true Sandalwood is infinitely higher than available supply, so unscrupulous marketers bottle non-related species like Muhuhu (Brachylaena hutchinsii) aka African Sandalwood, Amyris (Amyris balsamifera L) aka Poor man’s West Indian/Indies Sandalwood and most predominant are the chemically synthesized mimics sold at cheap prices, none of which have the therapeutic benefits attributed to true Sandalwood i.e. Santalum spp. as its main most active components α-santanol and β-santanol cannot be successfully synthesized.
Mysore (East Indian) Sandalwood
- The active compounds in Sandalwood ( α-santanol and β -santanol) help decrease cyktones (inflammation markers) and have a soothing, cooling effect on inflammation in the brain, nervous, circulatory, digestive and excretory systems which occur from to fevers, insect attacks, wounds, antibiotic side effects, toxicity, injury etc.
- It is effective against and provides relief from stubborn coughs, cold, flu and other viral infections due to its antiphlogistic properties
- Helps soothe and relax both muscle and nerve fibers, blood vessels and mucous channels in the nose and organs to prevent and treat severe spasms of any of these systems. These properties make it effective in treating coughs, cramps, muscle and other contractions due to its highly antispasmodic, sedative and muscle relaxant properties.
- Helps facilitate the removal of gases from the body by inducing relaxation in intestinal and abdominal walls due to its carminative properties.
- Beneficial in disinfecting mucous membrane in the genitor-urinary and bronchial tracts. When diffused its fragrance helps keep microbes and small insects away which is why it is extensively added to incense sticks, fumigants, evaporators, diffusers etc.
- An excellent expectorant it helps clear the respiratory tract of infection, bacteria etc and is thus beneficial in the natural treatment of coughs, colds, bronchitis, laryngitis, chest infections, asthma etc.
- Helps increase the frequency and volume of urination, beneficial in alleviating bladder infections, cleaning the kidneys and curbing soreness in the renal and excretory system to boost the expulsion of toxins through urine.
- In animal subjects, Sandalwood was found to be effective in blood glucose control and is believed to be able to help reduce blood pressure in humans due to attributed hypotensive properties, a bonus for people dealing with hypertension.
- Its properties as a tonic help soothe the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems to improve their harmonious function and prevent any abnormalities.
- Sandalwood has been used throughout the ages as a potent sleep aid and remedy for insomnia due to its strong sedative properties by increasing the duration of non-REM sleep.
- Its amazing anti-microbial properties have been studied as a viable option to treat and inhibit the spread of a wide range of difficult to treat bacteria, fungi, and viruses including antimycotic-resistant Candida strains and in minimizing outbreaks of the incurable Herpes simplex virus 1 & 2.
- One of its main active compounds αSantanol was found to have an analgesic effect making it great in relieving pain from headaches, sprains, migraines etc.
- Its beautiful, exotic, intoxicating aroma makes it one of the most used and sought after ingredients in perfumes, deodorants, aftershaves etc.