Ensuring a future for the mystic scents of Indian & Australian Sandalwood.
Although there are fifteen known types of Santalum species around the world, Indian and Australian Sandalwood are two of the most sought after, each with a rich spiritual past respective to their unique cultures. Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil (Santalum album), also referred to as “King of woods,” has a very smooth and woody scent due to its high beta-santalol content. Alternatively, Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum or Fusanus spicatus) produces a lower oil content, reflected in its comparatively lower price, and emits a fresh green, spicy and smoky scent.
The increasing demand for these species paired with the slow to grow nature of Sandalwood has resulted in inevitable illegal harvesting across the world. While we can’t speed up the growth of plantations (it takes at least 15 years for a tree to produce aromatic oils), we can do our best to supply oils with provenance and support responsible formulations. It’s been said that 50% of all perfumes contain some measure of sandalwood oil - at that rate, the more traceable and Certified Organic oils used, the greater the impact we can make for people and the planet.
In both cases, the commercial demand for the wood and oil over the past 175 years has substantially diminished plant populations of both species (McLellan 2021). That’s why we choose to work with Sandalwood suppliers who are devoted to a sustainable future for these valuable plant species. With “90% of sandalwood thought to be illegally harvested,”1 it’s important to source from ethical, sustainable and traceable growers and manufacturers.
In response to the Sandalwood harvesting regulations of the Western Australian Sandalwood Control Act (1929), sustainably managed plantations were established, from which we source our products. Our producers have the largest sandalwood plantation in the world with more than 5.5 million Indian Sandalwood trees, in addition to a network of growers who provide Australian Sandalwood, sustainably sourced through the West Australian Forest Products Commission.
In addition to sourcing essential oils, which are produced from the heartwood of the tree, we also offer Australian Sandalwood Carrier Oil, which is produced from the seeds and therefore replenishes more quickly for a more regenerative ingredient option. It’s different to the essential oils, but offers a powerhouse of benefits with high levels of Ximenynic Acid, a rare and powerful anti-inflammatory. Sandalwood Seed is one of the highest yielding natural sources of this important fatty acid. Along with other special lipids, such as Oleic acid, this oil’s chemical make-up gives it many beneficial properties, making it moisturizing, soothing and protecting. It is a valued addition in products including skin care, hair care and body care.
BENEFITS | USES | APPLICATIONS
…For SANDALWOOD ESSENTIAL OILS
Functional Fragrance / Aromatherapy
o Reduce stress – Whether used in a diffuser or perfume, one study demonstrates that sandalwood essential oils can alleviate the physiological reactions to psychological stress and facilitate recovery after stress. They reported “the tested sandalwood essential oils significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, especially during the recreation phase. This finding corresponds with a distinct reduction of salivary cortisol levels.” (Höferl et al)
o Enhance awareness – Backing the research mentioned above, Sandalwood is a hypotensive, meaning it lowers blood pressure, which allows the body to physically relax, improving meditation. It is also touted as a cleansing oil, able to disrupt negative thoughts, inner noise and a busy, allowing for more focus.
Skin/Hair Supporting Properties
o Antioxidants – Known for their free-radical-neutralizing power, these oils help maintain structure of skin cells, which can maintain moisture and elasticity and reduce appearance of wrinkles. One peer reviewed study found that Indian sandalwood oil is “a more potent antioxidant than the known lipophilic antioxidant vitamin E (alpha tocopherol).”2
o Antibacterial – Sandalwood’s antibacterial activity has shown efficacy against “the yeast Candida albicans, the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae.” (Jirovetz et al 2006)
o Anti-Inflammatory – Sandalwood also has anti-inflammatory effects by altering cell signaling in the body. Some evidence shows that sandalwood may help decrease inflammation in the case of skin disorders such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (Rajsmita 2019). This can also potentially help calm acne, warts, rashes, and other infections.
o Astringent – The astringent property helps balance excess sebum, preventing or reducing signs of acne and greasy hair/scalp.
o Anticancer – Santlol, a sesquiterpene isolated from Sandalwood, is known for a variety of therapeutic properties, but one of the most exciting comes from a report showing chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil’ α-santalol without causing toxic side-effects. As reported, “Our laboratory identified its anticancer effects in chemically-induced skin carcinogenesis in CD-1 and SENCAR mice, ultraviolet-B-induced skin carcinogenesis in SKH-1 mice and in vitro models of melanoma, non-melanoma, breast and prostate cancer” (Santhya 2015).
o Wound Healing – Not only do the oils’ antibacterial and antioxidant properties help in the healing of skin, but another study by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have shown that “skin cells possess an olfactory receptor for sandalwood... the cell proliferation increases, and wound healing improves if those receptors are activated” (Daniela 2014). It’s also shown to have more specific results in improving burn wounds, showing potential for after-sun care products (Dawane)
…For SANDALWOOD CARRIER OIL
NAP’s Australian Sandalwood Seed Carrier Oil is a very stable ingredient, and is a light, non-greasy oil with excellent emollient qualities. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, is highly moisturizing and helps support skin structure. It is great in skin care products, and in particular products aimed at mature skin as it increases skin hydration and derma strength. Its soothing properties also make it a welcome addition to hair and scalp care products. It is also beneficial in products aimed at acne, eczema and dermatitis. Sandalwood Seed Oil is helpful with circulation and joint pain, making it a great addition to products like massage oils.
ENSURING A FUTURE FOR SANDALWOOD
The importance of circular economies continues to hit closer and closer to home with stressed supply chains, over-harvested species and increasing costs of precious resources. At NAP, we are invested in the sustainable future of our species to ensure the growing cohort of conscious consumers have consistent supply of natural products in the future and that ethical producers become more commonplace in the marketplace.
The advances in agri-science and research on commercializing these species around the world will improve plantations and conservation efforts (Moniodis et al). With demand for natural products on the rise, it’s more important than ever before to research and ensure that your sandalwood comes from a socially and environmentally ethical source.
Interested to see what Sandalwood can do for your formulation?
Here’s an example of a common sandalwood base for developing fragrance (Anonis 1998)
Anonis, Danute Pajaujis. “Woody Notes in Perfumery.” Perfumer & Flavorist, Sept/Oct. 1998. Vol 23, 19-24. https://img.perfumerflavorist.com/files/base/allured/all/document/2016/02/pf.9832.pdf
Daniela Busse et al. (2014): A synthetic sandalwood odorant induces wound healing processes in human keratinocytes via the olfactory receptor OR2AT4, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, DOI: 10.1038/JID.2014.273
Dawane JS, Biradar A, Vaidya K, Sharma A, Bhosale M, Pandit VA.Burn Wound Healing Potential of Honey, Sandal Wood, Calendula and Cooling with Tap Water-A Comparative Study on Wistar Rats.J Clin of Diagn Res.2018; 12(10):FC10-FC13. https://www.doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2018/36971/12125
Höferl, Martina, et al. “A Pilot Study on the Physiological Effects of Three Essential Oils in Humans.” Natural Product Communications, Oct. 2016, doi:10.1177/1934578X1601101034.
Jirovetz L, Buchbauer G, Denkova Z, et al. “Comparative study on the antimicrobial activities of different sandalwood essential oils of various origin”. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 2006, Vol 21, issue 3, May/June 2006, 465-468. https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.1625
McLellan R. C., Dixon K., Watson D. M. “Prolific or precarious: a review of the status of Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC., Santalaceae)”. The Rangeland Journal, 2021, 43, 211-222.
Moniodis, Jessie, et al. “Sesquiterpene Variation in West Australian Sandalwood (Santalum Spicatum).” Molecules, vol. 22, no. 6, June 2017, p. 940. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22060940.
Rajsmita, Bhattacharjee, and Vinay Keshavamurthy. “Re-discovering Sandalwood: Beyond Beauty and Fragrance.” Indian dermatology online journal vol. 10,3 (2019): 296-297. doi:10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_357_18
Santha S, Dwivedi C. “Anticancer Effects of Sandalwood (Santalum album)” Anticancer Research Jun 2015, 35 (6) 3137-3145.