Sandalwood trees grow in India and other parts of Asia. The wood is renowned for carving and also yields the volatile oil used in herbal medicine.
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Sandalwood is an herb that directly attack microbes.
Sandalwood oil was used traditionally by herbalists to treat skin diseases, acne, dysentery, gonorrhea, and a number of other conditions.1 In Traditional Chinese Medicine, sandalwood oil is considered an excellent sedating agent.
The volatile oil contains high amounts of alpha- and beta-santalol. According to a test tube study, these small molecules possess antibacterial properties.2 This makes it a potential topical treatment for skin infections. Synthetic sandalwood oil does not contain these active ingredients. Internal use of sandalwood is approved by the German Commission E for the supportive treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract (usually the urinary bladder).3 However, clinical trials are lacking to support this use.
The German Commission E monograph suggests 1/4 teaspoon (1–1.5 grams) of the volatile oil for the supportive treatment of urinary tract infections.4 This should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. Treatment should not exceed six weeks. For external use, a few drops of sandalwood oil are dissolved in 6 ounces (180 ml) of water and applied directly to the infected area of skin several times daily.
Some people may experience mild skin irritation from topical application of sandalwood oil.5 People with kidney disease should not use sandalwood internally. Until more is known, sandalwood oil should be avoided for internal use during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Infants and children should not take sandalwood oil internally.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 426–7.
2. Okazai K, Oshima S. Antibacterial activity of higher plants. XXIV. Antimicrobial effect of essential oils (5). J Pharm Soc Japan 1953;73:344–7.
3. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 199.
4. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 199.
5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 199.
Last Review: 11-07-2012
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