Researchers in the US, working on a drug to cure warts, have discovered promising results after conducting medical studies on the potency of sandalwood in this area of health.Study authors discovered that “if you apply sandalwood oil to a wart for 7-10 days, that wart will turn black and fall off and doesn’t seem to come back.” This is big news for the sandalwood industry, which has previously been comprised of mostly perfumery, incense, and essential oils. There are currently no approved prescription drugs to treat HPV skin warts, and sandalwood could thus make a large impact in this field of medicine. This research has been primarily conducted by ViroXis, a privately owned pharmaceutical company devoted to sandalwood medical research and partner to the Australian TFS Corporation. According to Viroxis, the “global HPV common warts market could absorb up to 240 metric tonnes [265 US tons] of oil per year at premium prices” (ABC Rural, http://www.viroxis.com/pdf/Sandalwood_11-dec_2012.pdf, 2012).
ViroXis is working toward researching sandalwood’s effectiveness in treating many kinds of warts, especially those which are STD-related. Molluscum contagiosum, sometimes called “MC” or “water warts,” is a prevalent, highly contagious viral infection of the skin passed on through sexual contact or surface contact, and this virus might also benefit from sandalwood. In March 2014, ViroXis released a statement explaining that the company has received approval “to initiate a Federal Drug Administration PhaseII study for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum using TFS’s East Indian sandalwood oil.” TFS just recently harvested its first crop of album Indian sandalwood trees in 2014 (ViroXis, http://www.viroxis.com/pdf/ViroXis%20Gets%20Approval%20FDA%20Phase%202%20-%2023%20March%202014.pdf, 2014).
India-based institutes of pharmacy have also been conducting scientific research on the effects of sandalwood oil on warts. One particular study researched a broad range of sandalwood’s health benefits, including sandalwood oil’s effects on warts as well as sandalwood oil’s sedative effect, its ability to prevent skin cancer, its anti-inflammatory effects against pyrexia (fever), and its disinfectant properties (Sindhu, Upma, Kumar, & Arora, https://www.academia.edu/2604219/Santalum_album_Linn_A_review_on_morphology_phytochemistry_and_pharmacological_aspects, 2010).
Several other studies have been conducted concerning the effectiveness of sandalwood oil on warts. In 2007, a study was conducted on the effect of essential oils on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The study investigated the essential oils from ginger (Zingiber officinale), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), and sandalwood (Santalum album), and all of the essential oils, including sandalwood oil, exhibited high levels of activity against the virus, significantly reducing harmful plaque formation (Schnitzler, Koch, & Reichling, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1855548/, 2007).
In 2012, exciting research showed the anti-carcinogenic effects of alpha-santalol, a major component of sandalwood oil. This particular study focused on alpha-santalol’s effects on the growth of human prostate cancer cells and found that this component of sandalwood oil significantly inhibited the development of these harmful cells (Bommareddy, Rule, VanWert, Santha, & Dwivedi, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22571975, 2012).
Because many recent medical studies have shown sandalwood oil to prevent and aid in the healing of skin cancer, in 2005, researchers conducted a study to better understand exactly which chemical components in sandalwood oil work against these cancer cells. For the first time in sandalwood medical research, this study “identifies the apoptotic effect of alpha-santalol, and defines the mechanism of apoptotic cascade activated by this agent in A431 cells, which might be contributing to its overall cancer preventive efficacy in mouse skin cancer models.” Apoptosis refers to “programmed cell death,” or the normal dying of unnecessary or harmful cells in the body (Kaur et al., http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/2/369.long, 2005).
The alpha-santalol component of sandalwood essential oil has also shown to be effective against breast cancer cells. This study explains that while alpha-santalol did not affect the normal, healthy breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10A, it induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in the harmful MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells which cause breast cancer (Santha et al., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579946/, 2013).
In Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, and other medical systems, sandalwood oil has been used for thousands of years to treat anxiety. Recently, medical studies have been conducted in order to explore the scientific explanations for this health benefit. Researchers compared the effects of sandalwood oil versus other kinds of oils on anxiety in aromatherapy patients, and while no concrete conclusions could be made from this particular study due to inconsistencies, it is likely that the results support the presence of anxiety-soothing properties of sandalwood oil (Thames Valley University, http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1744388105001246?via=sd&cc=y, 2005).
Sandalwood oil has also long been used as a sedative in ancient medicinal systems. In 1995, Japanese researchers studied this sedative effect, testing the components of sandalwood oil on the central nervous system of mice, noting the “potentiation of hexobarbital sleeping time, body temperature alterations, antinociceptive, and spontaneous motor activity changes.” The study concluded that “These results showed that alpha- and beta-santalols could be considered as neuroleptic by resemblance to the pharmacological activities of chlorpromazine.” Chlorpromazine is one of the major drugs used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe anxiety (Okugawa, Ueda, Matsumoto, & Kawanishi, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23196153, 1995).
Sandalwood oil has been used for thousands of years to prepare one’s mind for meditation practices, especially in Buddhist meditation, and this essential oil has been known to both calm the mind and sharpen its focus and alertness. In 2006, another study investigated sandalwood oil’s (S. album) ability to both soothe anxiety and increase focus. Researches concentrated specifically on the effects of alpha-santalol on human physiological parameters (blood oxygen saturation, respiration rate, eye-blink rate, pulse rate, skin conductance, skin temperature, surface electromyogram, and blood pressure) and self-ratings of arousal (alertness, attentiveness, calmness, mood, relaxation, and vigor). Healthy human volunteers were tested using sandalwood essential oil, pure alpha-santalol, and a placebo. According to the Results, “Compared to either an odorless placebo or alpha-santalol, sandalwood oil elevated pulse rate, skin conductance level, and systolic blood pressure. Alpha-santalol, however, elicited higher ratings of attentiveness and mood than did sandalwood oil or the placebo” (Heuberger, Hongratanaworakit & Buchbauer, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16783696, 2006).
Sandalwood has traditionally been valued in many cultures for its relaxing and cooling properties, and recent medical studies support this health benefit. The study’s abstract explains that alpha-santalol, the major constituent of the oil, was found to be “a strong inhibitor of both tyrosinase and cholinesterase, adding that “there is a great potential of this essential oil for use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as in skin-care” (Misra & Dey, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23513742, 2013).
Research has also been conducted to investigate sandalwood’s antispasmodic properties, often said to provide relief for gastrointestinal health problems. Researchers tested the effects of album’s methanol extract, in mice with castor-oil induced diarrhea, concluding that certain chemical constituents of S. album do provide relief for certain gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. According to the study’s abstract, “All these results provide pharmacological basis for its clinical use in gastrointestinal tract” (Guo, Zhang, Gao, Qu, & Liu, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24809287, 2014).
Sandalwood’s anti-inflammatory properties, used traditionally for many years in several different cultures, have also been investigated recently. Researchers used both spicatum and S. album sandalwood essential oil and found that the main components of this sandalwood oil—alpha-santalol and beta-santalol—were able to mimic the anti-inflammatory effects of ibuprofen. The abstract explains that “The ability of [sandalwood oil] to mimic ibuprofen non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that act by inhibiting cyclooxygenases suggests a possible mechanism for the observed anti-inflammatory properties of topically applied sandalwood oilss and provides a rationale for use in products requiring anti-inflammatory effects” (Sharma et al., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24318647, 2014).