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Ayurvedic Medicine


Chandana, 'gladdening'

Latin Names

English Names

Sanskrit Names

Hindi Names

Santalum album Santalaceae

Sandal Tree

Chandana, Ananditam, Taliaparnam

Safed-chandan, Chandan


Habitat  |  Morphology Description (Habit)  |  Principal Constituents  |  

 |  Indications  |   Product Range  |  References



It is commonly found in the comparatively dry regions of peninsular India from Vindhya mountains southwards, especially in Mysore and Tamil Nadu, ascending to an altitude of c. 1,200 m. It has also been introduced into Rajasthan, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, where it has become naturalized at some places, but the sandalwood produced in these areas is usually of an inferior quality.


Morphology Description (Habit)

A small to medium-sized, evergreen semi-parasitic tree, with slender branches, sometimes reaching up to 18 m. in height and 2.4 m. in girth. The bark is reddish or dark-grey or nearly black, rough, with deep vertical cracks on old trees; leaves glabrous, thin, elliptic- ovate or ovate-lanceolate, 1.5-8 cm. x 1.6-3.2 cm., sometimes larger, flowers straw-coloured, brownish purple, reddish purple, or violet, unscented, in terminal and axillary paniculate cymes; the drupe globose, 1.3 cm. diam., purple-black, with hard, ribbed endocarp; the seeds globose or obovoid.

Principal Constituents

The main constituent of sandalwood oil is santalol. This primary sesquiterpene alcohol forms more than 90 per cent of the oil and is present as a mixture of two isomers, a -santalol and ß-santalol, the former predominating. The characteristic odor and medicinal properties of sandalwood oil are mainly due to the santalols. The other constituents reported in sandalwood oil include: the hydrocarbons santene, nor-tricycloekasantalene and a- and ,ß-santalenes; the alcohols santenol and teresantalol; the aldehydes nor-tricycloekasantalal, and isovaleraldehyde; the ketones l-santenone and santalone; and the acids teresantalic acid occurring partly free and partly in esterfied form, and a-and ß-santalic acids 1.


Both the wood and the oil have long been employed in medicine. They are credited with cooling, diaphoretic, diuretic and expectorant properties, and sandalwood finds several applications in household remedies: a paste of the wood is applied to burns; in fevers and headache, it is applied to the forehead and upper eyelids. The oil was at one time official in many pharmacopeias and was prescribed for the treatment of gonorrhea. It is reported to be active against Eberthella typhosa and Escherichia coli. The oil from the seeds is used in skin troubles2.

Product Range



1.       Guenther , V, 183, 185-86; II, 265-69, 79, 112-16, 229, 257, 350, 438, 494, 611; Ghatgey & Bhattacharyya, Perfum. essent. Oil Rec., 1956, 47, 353; Bhati, Flavour Ind., 1970, 1, 235.

2.  Chopra, 1958, 243; Claus, 1961, 211; I.P.C., 189; Thum- gappa, Indian Perfum., 1968, 12, pt II, 11; Youngken, 286; Wren, 267; George & Pandalai, Essential Oils & Aromatic Chemicals, A Symposium, Coun. Sci. Industr. Res., New Delhi, 1955, 154.

Part Used: dried heartwood, essential oil

ˇRasa: tikta
ˇVipaka: laghu
ˇVirya: shita
ˇKarma: Pittahara, medhyam, vajikarana, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, expectorant, hemostatic, anodyne, antipyretic, diaphoretic, alterative, diuretic, astringent, disinfectant to mucus membranes, refrigerant
ˇPrabhava: ahladana (gives happiness) (Dash 1991, 32; Frawley and Lad 1986, 213; Nadkarni 1976, 1099; Varier 1996, 57)

Indications: Pittakopa, gastric irritability, dysentery, biliousness, jaundice, cough, bronchitis, fever, inflammatory skin diseases, herpes, skin cancer, poisoning, thirst, hemorrhage, burning sensations, cystitis, Menorrhagia, leucorrhea, headache, memory loss, psychopathies, cardiac debility (Frawley and Lad 1986, 213; Nadkarni 1976, 1099; Varier 1996, 57)

Contraindications: Vatakaphakopa; beware of common adulterants to the oil, such as castor and cedar wood oil.

Toxicity: Possible cytochrome p-450 inducement in high doses long term (Jones et al 1994). Essential oil reported to have a "baneful effect upon the kidneys" in larger doses (Nadkarni 1976, 1102).

ˇChurnam: 250 mg ­ 5 g b.i.d. - t.i.d.
ˇKashaya: 100 mL b.i.d. - t.i.d.
ˇTincture: 1 ­ 2 mL b.i.d. - t.i.d.
ˇEssential oil: 5 ­ 20 gtt (encapsulated, suspended in Acacia gum powder or similar) t.i.d.

Medical research:
ˇAntiviral: The essential oil of Santalum album was found to inhibit the replication of Herpes simplex viruses-1 and ­2. This effect was dose-dependent and more pronounced against HSV-1 (Benencia and Courreges. 1999).

ˇChemprotective: The essential oil of Santalum album displayed chemoprotective effects on 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-(DMBA)-initiated and 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate(TPA)-promoted skin papillomas, and TPA-induced ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in mice. Treatment with Santalum album oil significantly decreased papilloma incidence by 67%, multiplicity by 96%, and TPA-induced ODC activity by 70% (Dwivedi and Abu-Ghazaleh. 1997). The essential oil of Santalum album was found to enhance glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity and acid soluble sulphydryl (SH) levels in the liver of adult male Swiss albino mice, suggesting a possible chemopreventive action. (Banerjee et al. 1993).

ˇHypotensive: Santalum ellipticum was found to have a hypotensive activity (Bourke et al 1973).

ˇHepatic: Santalbic acid extract from Santalum acuminatum was fed to Sprague-Dawley rats for 10 and 20 days such that it made up 12.6% of total energy content in a semi-synthetic diet. Santalbic acid was found in the lipids of plasma, adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, kidney, heart and liver but not in brain. Hepatic microsomal cytochrome P-450 activity in animals fed for 20 days was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than in controls (Jones et al 1994).

Comments: Chandana has long been esteemed in India as not only a useful medicine, but as an important construction material (as it is resistant to certain species of ants), and as an important fragrance in Hindu ceremonies (Nadkarni 1976, 1100). Chandana is specific to Paittic disorders, applied topically as a paste made with water for inflammatory skin conditions such as herpes, scabies, pruritis, prickly heat, and insect bites, and internally as an emulsion in the treatment of gastric irritability, dysentery, thirst, and heat stroke.

In mild tachycardia (i.e. "tobacco heart") Chandana will have a calming nervine effect, slowing heart rate and promoting contentment and relaxation (Nadkarni 1976, 1102). The essential oil of Chandana is a very popular remedy for afflictions of the urinary tract, such as cystitis, gonorrhea and pyelitis, and can be used in similar dosages for irritating coughs and bronchitis. An emulsion of the wood mixed with sugar, honey and rice is used to check gastric irritability (Nadkarni 1976, 1101). When mixed with zinc oxide ointment (10%, v/v), the essential oil is a useful adjunct in the treatment of herpetic lesions, reapplied every few hours over a period of days until the inflammation ceases. Owing to its astringent and cooling qualities, Chandana is a useful hemostatic and a specific to a group of diseases called rakta pitta, all of which are characterized by hemorrhage.

Banerjee, S et al. 1993. Modulatory influence of sandalwood oil on mouse hepatic glutathione S-transferase activity and acid soluble sulphydryl level. Cancer Lett. Feb;68(2-3):105-9
Benencia, F. and M.C. Courreges. 1999. Antiviral activity of sandalwood oil against herpes simplex viruses-1 and -2. Phytomedicine. May;6(2):119-23
Bourke, E.L. et al. 1973. A hypotensive agent in Santalum ellipticum. Planta Med. Mar;23(2):110-4
Dash, Bhagwan. 1991. Materia Medica of Ayurveda. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.
Frawley, David and Vasant Lad. 1986. The Yoga Of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Santa Fe: Lotus Press.
Dwivedi, C and A. Abu-Ghazaleh. 1997. Chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil on skin papillomas in mice. Eur J Cancer Prev. Aug;6(4):399-401
Jones G.P. et al. 1994. Effect of feeding quandong (Santalum acuminatum) oil to rats on tissue lipids, hepatic cytochrome P-450 and tissue histology. Food Chem Toxicol. Jun;32(6):521-5
Kirtikar KR and BD Basu. 1993. Indian Medicinal Plants. 2nd ed. Vol. 1-4. 1935. Reprint. Delhi: Periodical Experts.

Nadkarni, Dr. K.M. 1976. The Indian Materia Medica, with Ayurvedic, Unani and Home Remedies. Revised and enlarged by A.K. Nadkarni. 1954. Reprint. Bombay: Bombay Popular Prakashan PVP.
Varrier, P.S. 1996. Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 species. Edited by PK Warrier,
Vata / Pitta / Kapha Nambiar and C Ramankutty. vol 5. Hyderabad: Orient Longman.

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