Sandalwood Oil

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

Sandalwood oil is obtained by distillation of sandalwood, Santalum album Linn., belonging to family Santalaceae.






Chandan oil, sandal oil, yellow sandalwood oil, liginum.


Biological Source


Sandalwood oil is obtained by distillation of sandalwood, Santalum album Linn., belonging to family Santalaceae.


Geographical Source


Sandal is a small to medium-sized, evergreen semiparasitic tree found in the dry regions of peninsular India from Vindhya Mountains southwards, especially in Mysore and Tamil Nadu. It has also been introduced in Rajasthan, parts of U.P., M.P., and Orissa.




Sandal tree grows mostly on red, ferruginous loam overlying metamorphic rocks, chiefly gneiss, and tolerates shallow, rocky ground and stony or gravelly soils, avoiding saline and calcareous situations. It is not found on the black-cotton soil. The growth is luxuriant on rich and fairly moist soils, such as garden loam and on well-drained deep alluvium along the river banks, but the heartwood from these trees is deficient in oil. The trees grown on poor soils, particularly on stony or gravelly soil, produce more highly scented wood, giving a better yield of the oil.


It reproduces from seeds dispersed by birds. Germination is profuse in the forests immediately after the monsoons. For artificial regeneration, it is necessary to provide suitable climatic and ecological conditions. For procuring seeds, the fruits are collected during January–March. Germination is up to 80%. Just after the first monsoon showers, the sandal seeds are dibbed and protected by thorny bushes. The seeds germinate in about 8–14 days. The seedlings grow rapidly, that is, up to 20–30 cm high, at the end of the first year.




Sandalwood oil is viscous, yellowish liquid having a peculiar, heavy, sweet, and very lasting odour. It has sp. gr. 0.97–0.98, viscosity 1.5 and acid value 0.5–0.8.


                                               Santalum album 



Transverse section of wood shows alternating lighter and darker zones. The xylem consists of vessels and fibres. Vessels are large and usually occur single extending from one medullary ray to the next. Fibres are densely packed with interspersed air space termed as lacunae and consti-tute bulk of wood. Medullary rays are very fine, usually two cells wide and closed together. Volatile oil is deposited in the heartwood and is found in all the elements of the wood; it is not secreted by or contained in any particular cells or glands.


                                            Transverse section of Sandalwood 

Chemical Constituents


The main odorous and medicinal constituent of Sandal-wood is santalol. This primary sesquiterpene alcohol forms more than 90% of the oil and is present as a mixture of two isomers, α-santalol and β-santalol, the former predominating. The other constituents reported are hydrocarbons santene, nor-tricycloekasantalene, α-, and β- santalenes.





Sandalwood oil is highly used in perfumery creations and finds an important place in soaps, face creams, and toilet powders. A chemo-protective action on liver carcinogenesis in mice has been demonstrated.


Substitutes and Adulterants


Oil from several plant sources are either used as substitutes for or as adulterants of natural sandalwood oil. Oil obtained from the Australian plant Fusanus spicatus (Eucarya spicata) is used as a substitute for genuine Sandalwood oil. Wood and oil of Santalum yasi have a feeble odour which is not deli-cate like that of Indian Sandalwood oil. East Africa markets the wood and oil derived from Osyris tenuifolia, the wood is similar to sandal and is used as an adulterant. An oil from Mauritius possesses most of the characteristics of the Indian oil. In West Indies, oil derived from Amyris balsamifera Linn. is marketed as a cheap substitute for Indian sandalwood oil. In India, the wood of Erythroxylum monogynum Roxb. is used as an adulterant. The wood of Mansonia gagei Drum, resembles sandalwood closely in its physical and other characteristics. Another species, which is common in southern India and used as an adulterant, is Ximenia americana Linn. The oil is adulterated with polyethylene glycols.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Abana, Evecare, Lukol, Antiwrinkle cream (Himalaya Drug Company) and Mahamarichadi tail, Brahma rasayan (Dabur).


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