Here’s some math that totally blows our minds:
The average human nose can distinguish 1 trillion smells with 350 olfactory receptors. That means that, on average, a single olfactory receptor can detect 2,857,142,857.1 different scents.
Scientists have recently discovered that our noses aren’t the only place that these receptors show up. The skin and our internal organs have olfactory receptors in them too! They even went a step further and tested to see if scent, using sandalwood, could have an impact on our skin.
Can you guess what they found? That’s right. The olfactory receptors in our skin are sensitive to scent!
We’re so excited about sandalwood that we wanted to celebrate by spotlighting the other uses for it throughout history!
A Little Bit About the Sandalwood Tree
Sandalwood is a parasitic tree that is native to India and traditionally mined for its heartwood (the soft wood behind the bark). Most commonly, sandalwood is processed with steam distillation and used as an essential oil.
Because of the wonderful earthy smell and the amazing health benefits, the demand for sandalwood is at an all-time high and the trees are being overmined in India. This has lead to the precious tree becoming endangered, illegally harvested and traded, and very highly priced. Sandalwood essential oil is so coveted that it is often adulterated or synthesized by people who want to make a profit out of an inferior product. People all over the world have united to stop this tree from becoming extinct and are working to cultivate it in places other than India like Hawaii, Australia, and Indonesia.
The written traditions involving sandalwood extends to the beginning of our modern time period (500 A.D.) as a tonic herb to aid in all sorts of healing processes! It is an amazing mind, body, spirit tonic and its healing properties extend to most of the vital organs.
Sandalwood Essential Oil for the Immune System
Traditional herbalists used it in skin care (including ours!) to help bind and preserve the scent of other herbs. Sandalwood’s powerful smell was used by ancient Chinese herbalists to quell digestive upsets.
Sandalwood is used in herbal medicine to help boost the immune system and to keep the body in balance.
Sandalwood Essential Oil for the Mind and Spirit
As if being a body tonic wasn’t enough, the sandalwood faeries imbued the precious scent with some of the most relaxing properties there are. Sandalwood has been used in aromatherapy and emotional therapeutics to help calm.
It is so calming and centering, that it has traditionally been used in meditations, ceremonies, and as a way to bring spiritual awareness to the self. Sandalwood works from the inner spirit outward. It aids the healing of the mind while it helps the physical body heal. It is a true wonder-herb as it is safe and enjoyable for everyone (even our furry friends!)
Sandalwood Essential Oil Steam Bath
Steam baths are one of my favorite healing techniques. If I’m feeling even the slightest bit under the weather, you can bet that you’ll find me at the stove with a pot full of steaming herbal water and a towel draped over my head! They can help with clogged pores, skin issues, tension… the list goes on and on … really…
Now that you know all about the benefits of sandalwood, try just a couple of drops in your steam bath. Here's how:
Step one: fill a pot of water and put it on the stove on a low heat
Step two: when the pot starts steaming, add a couple of drops of your sandalwood essential oil
Step three: drape a towel over your head and the pot to trap the steam and breathe as deeply as you can (it can be really intense because it’s so hot, but I promise it’s great for you!)
What’s your favorite way to use sandalwood? Leave your reply in the comment below!
by Aubrey Wallace
Resident Herbal Scholar
Aub is a certified clinical herbalist and content strategist/creator. She is the co-founder of Dandelion Branding, a digital marketing company that works with brands that are focused on revolutionizing their industries. When she's not working on a project, you can usually find her nosing about in the forest or giving congratulatory high fives to every plant in her house for growing.
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