ingredient focus: sandalwood


Sandalwood (Santalum album), which has been said to bring one closer to the divine, is the name of a class of woods.  Sandalwood trees are indigenous to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, and Hawaii.  Sandalwood is an aromatic wood which is capable of retaining its fragrance for many years.  Because of the valued nature of this scent, these trees have been exploited in the past, and are now protected by law in India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Sandalwood oil has been used as a perfume for over 4000 years. There are a number of medical properties which have been supported by clinical studies, including its anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and anti-oxidant qualities.  It has also been demonstrated to be effective in promoting mental clarity, decreasing anxiety, and as an aphrodisiac. 

The spiritual uses of sandalwood powder, paste, and oil abound throughout South and East Asia.  Sandalwood powder is showered as blessings by Jain monks and nuns upon their disciples and followers.  In the Islamic sufi tradition, sandalwood paste is applied on the sufi’s grave by disciples as a mark of devotion. Zorastrians offer sandalwood twigs to the fire-keeping priests who offer the sandalwood to the fire.  Buddhists often burn sandalwood-based incense during prayers and meditation.  Meditation beads or malas, in which a mantra or a personal prayer is repeated as the beads roll through the fingers, are sometimes made from sandalwood. In Hinduism, sandalwood plays an indispensable role in almost every social and religious ceremony, beginning from the birth of a child and continuing until his or her passing to the next world. It is offered to the gods and goddesses, used to anoint babies and brides, and burnt with the pyre when cremating the dead.  Sandalwood paste is often used to decorate the icons of the deities, and may be applied to the foreheads of devotees as a blessing.

Sandalwood’s scent itself has also plays an important role.  It is believed by some to transform one's desires and to focus the mind prior to meditation. A drop of the oil is sometimes placed on the third eye, located at the middle of the forehead, in order to prepare the mind to move inwards.  The fragrance is also thought to remind one of the spiritual realms.

Whichever way you choose to enjoy sandalwood, its beauty and power cannot be denied.  It is a prized ingredient found in our Jasmine Serum, Red Sandalwood & Neem Clarifying Masque, and Ayurvedic Pitta Facial Oil.


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