Herbal Health: Into the Sandalwoods

Thought to contain a “masculine” aroma, sandalwood’s forest-like scent is used extensively in ayurvedic medicine.

Getty ImagesGetty Images

Getty Images

Whether mixed with more flowery notes or left on its own, the sweet, woodsy scent of sandalwood is a familiar one. Extracted from the timber of the sandalwood tree—an evergreen with tough leaves and purple flowers—it carries a distinctive scent, calling to mind images of rugged forests. For this reason, sandalwood is often thought to possess a “masculine” aroma.

There are more than 25 species of the sandalwood tree. The older the wood, the higher the quality of sandalwood oil; a mature tree will yield the most fragrant, potent oil as well as the greatest quantity. A steam distillation process is used for extraction. Trees from Eastern India have traditionally harvested the finest oil, but sadly, they’re on the verge of extinction there. Not surprisingly, their oil is extremely expensive. The sandalwood oils harvested in some South Pacific Islands, Australia and Hawaii are also thought to be beneficial, if somewhat inferior.

For more about Sandalwood, check out DAYSPA’s March digital edition.

More in Wellness