Scientific Name(S): Santalurn album L. Family: Santalaceae
Common Name(S): Sandalwood, santal oil, white saunders oil, white or yellow sandalwood oil, East Indian sandalwood oil
Botany: Indigenous to India, the Malay Archipelago, and Indonesia, the sandalwood is an evergreen tree that grows to 8 to 12 meters in height. Australian sandalwood oil is prepared by distillation of the wood of Eucarya spicata, a small tree native to western Australia that contains sesquiterpene alcohols known as fusanols. This oil is similar to the native Indian sandalwood oil in odor, although its topnotes are characteristically different.
History: Sandalwood oil commonly is used as a fragrance in incense, cosmetics, perfumes and soaps. It also is used as a flavor for foods and beverages. The wood has been valued in carving because of its dense character.
In traditional medicine, sandalwood oil has been used for a wide variety of conditions ranging from an antiseptic and astringent to the treatment of headache, stomach ache and urogenital disorders.
Uses of Sandalwood:
Sandalwood has been reported to have diuretic and urinary antiseptic properties, but mainly the oil extracted from the wood has been used as a fragrance enhancer.
Side Effects of Sandalwood:
Sandalwood can cause dermatitis in sensitive persons.
Toxicology: The oil has been found to be irritating in both mouse and rabbit skin test models. Santalol can cause dermatitis in sensitive persons although it is generally considered to be nonirritating to human skin. The santalols and related compounds have been identified in the blood of mice that inhaled sandalwood fumes under experimental conditions, indicating that systemic absorption of these compounds can occur.
Summary: Sandalwood is a fragrant wood from which an oil is derived for use in foods and cosmetics. The oil has been used widely in traditional Asian medicine and had been official in the United States at the turn of the century. Today, the oil finds little medicinal use but its widespread use as a popular fragrance continues.
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