Sandalwood (Tan Xiang)
Botanical Name: Santalum album, S. spicatum
The tree’s heartwood is considered scared in the Vedic tradition. Sandalwood promotes deep relaxed states that increase the flow of spiritual energy. It relaxes the throat and heart chakras. It is used to treat depression, urinary infections, poor appetite and bronchitis. The herbs strong bitter taste and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent cold remedy. Arabic texts from the 10th century say sandalwood “clears headaches due to heat.” In Ancient China, it was recommended to treat cholera because of its cooling and drying properties. Sandalwood is a unique herb able to treat and balance the body, mind and spirit.
Below is an overview of Sandalwood (Tan Xiang), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Sandalwood (Tan Xiang).
Western Name: Sandalwood
Also Known As: East Indian Sandalwood, White Sandalwood, Yellow Sandalwood, Red Sandalwood, Chandan, Australian sandalwood (S. spicatum)
Organs/Systems: Bladder, Skin, Nerves, Lung, Spirit
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Cooling, Calming, Aromatic, Astringing, Antispasmodic, Digestive, Diuretic, Analgesic, Antiseptic, Emollient, Expectorant, Sedating, Tonic, Clarify the Mind, Calming, Focusing, Clairvoyance, Aphrodisiac. Urinary disorders, cystitis, gonorrhea, digestive disorders, stomach disorders, fever, sunstroke, itchy skin disorders, flaky aging or dry skin, eczema, catarrh, dry coughs, bronchitis, diarrhea, maintaining a focused clear mind, calming, insomnia.
Pin Yin: Tan Xiang
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Lung, Spleen, Stomach, Heart
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Promotes the Movement of Qi/Relieves Pain: stagnant Qi in the abdomen or chest, palpations, chest pain. Clears Heat/Resolves Damp: acute or chronic infections (gonorrhea, cystitis, bronchitis, colds, flu), chronic diarrhea, colitis, dermatitis, leucorrhea, fevers. Tonifies the Spleen: loose stools, poor appetite, spasms. Calms Shen: palpations, depression, insomnia. Moistens and Tonifies the Lung: chronic dry cough, dry itchy skin conditions. Tonifies and Moistens the Uterus: infertility, frigidity.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Heartwood, Oil, Wood, Bark
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Acrid, Aromatic, Moistening and Dry
Caution: Considered safe.
History/Folklore: The sandalwood oil grown in Mysore, India, is very rare and extremely expensive.
They are very slow growing trees. The Indian species is indigenous to South India and is threatened in the wild. Sandalwood is now largely cultivated with the trees needing to be at least 15 years old before they can be cultivated. The tree is completely dug up upon harvest as the roots and stump contain large amounts of oil that is processed and sold.
Sandalwood oil has a distinctive soft, warm, creamy and milky scent. It imparts a long-lasting woody scent to perfumes. In small amounts it is used as a fixative in perfumes, enhancing the longevity of other scents in the fragrant blends.
Sandalwood is called “chandana” in Sanskrit. As sandalwood is considered the symbol of excellence and purity, anything that might be considered excellent is therefore also often called “chandana” in reference to the spirit and scent of sandalwood.
In English, it is called either White or Yellow Sandalwood, depending on the age of the tree. As the tree ages it become more yellow. The scent also grows stronger with the aging process. A sandalwood tree is considered at its peak at 60 years of age.
In Hinduism, sandalwood paste is used in rituals and ceremonies. The paste is made by priests by grinding the hard wood by hand upon granite slabs shaped for this purpose. In Buddhism, sandalwood is believed to transform one’s desires and help maintain alertness during mediation. In the Islamic Sufi tradition, sandalwood paste is applied to the grave of sufi’s disciples as a sign of devotion and respect. In Zoroastrianism, twigs of sandalwood are offered by fire-keeping priests to the fire to keep the fire burning literally and spiritually.
In China and Japan, the most commonly used incense is sandalwood and agarwood. Taoists, however, are forbidden from using sandalwood.
Sandalwood paste is good for the skin, removing tiny microbes and reducing the risk of skin infections and acne. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to reduce stress, sooth and lift the spirit. The oil is also used to treat wounds. Only very small quantities are needed.
Sandalwood inhibits herpes simplex virus, calms restlessness, palpations, depression and nervous conditions such as headache and insomnia.
It can help manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
The Chinese classify sandalwood as an herb that helps regulate Qi (Energy).
Sandalwood has pheromone-like properties that make it popular for scents and cosmetics and are associated with the scent’s aphrodisiac qualities.
The plant’s antispasmodic properties help relax muscles and blood vessels that tighten during spasms. It’s slight astringing properties make it excellent for use on gums and to help prevent tooth loss and receding gums.
Sandalwood has been used as a tonic for children to help sooth upset stomach and aid proper growth.
12 drops of the essential oil in a little warm water is a commonly recommended dose. The recommended dosage when sandalwood is used as a powder and in decoctions is 1.5-3g as a powder and 3-9g in decoctions.
A decoction of the wood itself will have more astringing qualities than the essential oil, making it better suited to treat chronic diarrhea or other intestinal infections.
Sandalwood is used to remove negative energy, heal, protect, and attract success. Its purity is said to add power to any incense mixture. It is used to promote deeper meditation, astral projections, clairvoyance, and as an offering to spirits.
Santalol (75%), Tersantalic acid, Homoterocarpin.
Food for Australian Aboriginals
Australian Aboriginals eat the seed kernels, nuts and fruit of local sandalwood plants.
Serotonin in the Brain
Sandalwood triggers serotonin in the brain, increasing an overall sense of happiness and well-being.
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