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  • Writer's pictureDr. Valsaladevi K BAMS FAGE CNAD YIC CAAM MBA NABH-POI



Sandal, the second most expensive wood in the world after African blackwood, is a native of the hot wet evergreen tropical forests and it carries in its heartwood the best among the fragrances. Though the tree is a semi-parasite in habitat, the aromatic and medicinal properties filled in its heartwood, bark, and essential oil are potent and individually capable of ailing many ailments that require soothing and healing.

It is called Chandana in Sanskrit because the tree and the wood are pleasant to look at and imparts a pleasant aura to the person who uses sandal regularly. Gandhasaara, which holds fragrance in its heart, Chandradyuti, is as cool and as soothing as the full moon.

Gandhaharaja, the king of aroma, is auspicious as Bhadrashri and has a coveted place in religious rituals and customs of people of different faiths. Sarpaavasam, is the abode of serpents, and Shrigandha, bestows health, wealth, spirituality, and knowledge.

As a medicine sandal reduces the burning sensation of the body, relieves excessive thirst and sweat, removes body odor and scars, heals gastric ulcers, stops bleeding, clear urinary tract infections, regulates sexual urge in men, and alleviates body ache. To maintain health and to be happy and cool during summer, sandalwood is the magic remedy Nature has created to beat the heat.

Due to its excellent aromatic, anti-septic, cooling, and cicatrisant properties sandalwood is used by health care professionals, beauty care professionals, and perfume industrialists for various purposes. The very exquisite uniqueness of the tree has taken it to the list of endangered flora.

Similar antiseptic, cooling, and cicatrisant qualities are attributed to Rakta Chandana, Pterocarpus santalinus though it does not have the aroma. Both of them are used together for many cosmetic and therapeutic purposes.


Classification: Latin Name: Santallum album Family: Santallaceae

Plant Description: The tree that lives for more than 100 years is a slow-growing hemiparasitic evergreen tropical member, which grows to a height of about 10 m. It has a characteristic stem that is woody, heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic kinds of wood, retains the fragrance for decades.

The roots parasitize the roots of other trees, of about 300 different species, forming a haustorium adaptation of its own roots and not being detrimental to its hosts. The bark is reddish-brown or black and is smooth in young trees, becoming cracked and reddish as the tree grows older. The heartwood is pale green to white. The leaves are shiny, bright green, thin, opposite, and ovate in shape. The tree starts to flower after 7 years.

When the tree is still young the flowers are white and with age, they turn red or orange. The tree bears fruits after three years, but viable seeds develop only after five years. The trunk of the tree starts to develop its fragrance after about 10 years of age.

Habitat and Propagation: Sandalwood trees grow in evergreen dry forests 700MSL and prefer sandy or stony red soils. A temperature range from 0 to 38 °C and annual rainfall between 500 and 3000 mm is ideal for the trees to grow. The South Indian sandalwood is considered to be of the most superior quality.

India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands are natural habitats of sandalwood. A threatened species indigenous to South India and naturally growing in the Western Ghats, Kalrayan, and Sheravoy Hills the tree is extensively cultivated for its economic value. A different species with similar features and qualities are found in Western Australia and is one of the major plantation crops of the region grown mainly for export purposes.

The natural propagation is through the dispersal of seeds by birds and small animals feeding on the fruits. The indiscriminate felling of the trees for their fragrant value has resulted in the species reaching the verge of extinction. Hence artificial propagative methods like tissue culture are employed to keep the wonderful fragrance alive for the generations to come.

Useful Parts: The most useful part of the tree is the heartwood that is used for its fragrance, and medicinal properties and to extract the essential oil.

The heartwood is distilled to extract oil using different methods like steam distillation, water distillation, CO2 extraction, and solvent extraction of which steam distillation is the most common method. The process involves four steps boiling, steaming, condensation, and separation. Water is heated to extremely high temperatures of more than 1400C and is then passed through the wood which releases the very tightly bound oil within the cellular structure of the wood. The mixture of steam and oil is then cooled and separated so that the essential oil can be collected.

The wood is used to prepare a paste by rubbing on granite. This paste is used for religious purposes, as face packs, and as medicine. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sufis, Zoarashtrians, Japanese, and Chinese use sandalwood for worship and as incense. The bark and the roots are also used to extract oil. The leaves are used to prepare chutneys and coolant anti-septic summer drinks. The nuts, fruits, and seed kernels are edible and are used in various culinary applications.

The essential oil is used in the cosmetic industry, Ayurveda medicine manufacturing, and as an immersion oil in ultraviolet and fluorescence microscopy.

Important Chemical Constituents: Sandalwood and the essential oil contain more than 90% sesquiterpenic alcohols of which 50-60% is the tricyclic α-santalol and 20-25% is β-Santalol. The oil contains α -Santalol, B- Santene,and Santalenes, Santenol, Teresantalol, nor- Tricycloekasantalal, 1- santenone, santanone, teresantalic, acid, a- and B- Santatalic acids.


Qualitative Analysis: Ayurveda classifies and categories drugs on a qualitative basis, after analyzing the Rasapanchakas or the five quality attributes viz. rasa (taste), guna (property), vipaaka (final transformation of quality after primary and secondary digestion) veerya (potency) and prabhaava (unexplainable special quality).

The rasapanchaka of Chandana are

  • Rasa: Thiktha (bitter) and Madhura (sweet)

  • Guna: Laghu (light) and Rooksha (dry)

  • Vipaaka: Katu (pungent)

  • Veerya: Sheeta (Cool and soothing)

  • Prabhaava: Aahlaadakara (provides happiness) Chandayati (imparts pleasant feeling)

Dosha Action and Therapeutic Usage: The Kapha and Pitha doshas are pacified or normalized by Chandana. The bitter and sweet tastes and the sweet potency normalize the cellular activity of the system while the light, dry quality, and the hot pungent transformation enable normal cellular regeneration and contain the unnatural proliferation of cells. Thus the kapha and pitha doshas are normalized by Chandana.

Chandana is a known cicatrisant, aromatic, antiseptic and diuretic. Chandana acts as anthelmintic, detoxifies the blood, is anti-toxic, useful in bleeding disorders, controls secretive sexual diseases, and cools the system internally and externally, It acts as an aphrodisiac, relieves internal burning sensation, lubricates and nourishes mucus membrane and the sense organs, relieves emaciation and dehydration, improves energy levels, improves skin tone and complexion, makes the mood pleasant and mind happy.

Diseases and formulations: Gastritis, sore throat, laryngitis, sunstroke, nasal bleeding, menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, poisoning, thirst, worm infestation, infected wounds, internal and external burning sensation, tiredness, fatigue, emaciation, dehydration, skin problems, acne, acute dermatitis, discoloration, pigmentation, scars, gonorrhea, cystitis, urethritis, spermatorrhoea, vaginitis, eye disorders involving excessive secretion, redness, and burning, palpitations, agitation and anger, psychiatric disorders such as mania, nymphomania, excessive sexual urge, schizophrenia, and other mentally agitated disorders are some of the diseases where Chandana is used.

Chandana paste, Chandana powder, Sandalwood essential oil, Chandanadi Kashayam, Chandanadi Vati, Manasamitra Vatakam, Marma Gulika Chandanasavam, Chandanadi Thailam and Himasagara Thailam are some of the formulations with Chandana as ingredient.

Dosage, Contra-indications, Side effects, and Purificatory Process:

  • The pediatric dosage is 125 mg; the adult dosage is 250-500mg for a single dose. It is used in divided doses. The adjuvant is honey, milk, ghee, or any other prescribed medicine.

  • Chandana is preferably used judiciously in winter and in extremely cold climates. The dosage is very important. In severe cases of constipation, it is contra-indicated internally. It is also not advised in congestive conditions of the respiratory system.

  • Chandana may aggravate asthma, sinusitis, and, constipation. Application on extremely dry skin without adding a lubricating agent may lead to skin issues.

  • Chandana a few home remedies

  • Mix Chandana powder with rose water and apply it to the forehead for an hour to relieve a tension headache.

  • Chandana powder or paste mixed with aloe vera juice is used as a face pack for acne.

  • Chandana paste 500 mg mixed with tender coconut water and taken on an empty stomach is good for urinary tract problems.

  • A few drops of sandalwood oil applied to the body drive away body odor.

  • The tender leaves are fried and made into a chutney mixed with coconut, chilies, lime juice, and salt to re-establish taste after a bout of illness.

  • Oil of sandalwood is used for head massage to induce good sleep.

  • Regular application of sandal paste on the forehead helps in keeping the temperament cool and reducing anger.

  • Burning an incense stick with a sandal fragrance in a yoga place enhances the calming effect of the practice.

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