Sandalwood Incense Meaning: The Spiritual Story & Benefits

The history behind sandalwood incense meaning is long, with ties in many religions from regions around the world. The healing aromatherapy benefits and spiritual properties of sandalwood have been well recognized for thousands of years. Today, many people still use the essential oil or incense of sandalwood during spiritual ceremonies, medical treatment, and everyday life. Here’s what you need to know about Sandalwood’s backstory and how it’s still applied in modern times.

Sandalwood essential oil on table.

What is Sandalwood?


Sandalwood essential oils and incense are derived from the Santalum album tree, a small evergreen tree that is native to dry regions in South India, though it is also found in other parts of India, Australia, and Africa. Its wood is one of the most expensive in the world. Sandalwood has a very distinct warm, soft, and woody, scent, with an almost creamy or milky hint to it.

Sandalwood has been used for various healing and spiritual purposes. It’s also a sacred element in many religions. In Eastern cultures and in Chinese medicine, sandalwood oil has been used to treat skin conditions, mood disorders, respiratory conditions, and more.

Sandalwood Incense Meaning: An Essence in Many Religions

Sandalwood has been used in religious and historic rituals for thousands of years. In India, people carve sandalwood into figurines and idols that decorate and adorn homes and shrines. In Tibet and China, people use sandalwood in folk medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine for its antiseptic properties.

Beyond these practices, Sandalwood has biblical ties. It is believed to be a tree planted by God and is biblically described as one of the most beautiful perfumes. You can also trace the spiritual use of sandalwood back to ancient Egypt and India, around 3100 BC. In Sanskrit, it’s known as Chandan, meaning “sacred wood for burning incense.”

Today, sandalwood is still considered highly sacred in Vedic science and in Hindu Ayurveda. In Hindu temples, sandalwood paste is applied to people’s foreheads during rituals as a way to worship the divine. Buddhists believe in using sandalwood as a way to keep connected to the physical world during meditation, as sandalwood is a sacred element of the lotus.

Sandalwood is also used in chakra work, associated with the root chakra at the base of the spine. By burning sandalwood during chakra work, you can work on issues with security, stability, trust, and self-identity.

In Paganism, it is used for purification and healing. In Neopagan traditions, the sandalwood itself is burned, sometimes in combination with frankincense or myrrh. Folk magic uses pieces of the wood during spellwork, associating it with protection and business.

Graphic showing the meaning and spiritual benefits of using sandalwood incense.

Benefits of Sandalwood

There are many benefits to gain by burning sandalwood incense or using sandalwood essential oil. It may be diffused or burned for aromatherapy, applied to the skin with a carrier oil, or ingested. Traditionally, sandalwood has been applied, along with other therapies, to aid with:

  • Muscle problems
  • Digestive problems
  • The common cold
  • Liver and gallbladder problems
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Scabies
  • Mental disorders

There have been plenty of studies and research conducted to determine the physical benefits of sandalwood. They include help with anxiety, anti-inflammatory properties, bacteria-fighting capabilities that support wound healing, and even potentially being able to protect against skin cancer.

Calming and Grounding

Sandalwood is known to provide grounding effects, which can make for a relaxing and restful environment. It has long been used to purify people from self-doubt and anxiety. This is why like, hedychium oil, sandalwood is so popular for cleansing rituals, as it aids in bringing on feelings of compassion and openness while quieting feelings of irritability.

Multiple studies have been done to test these effects. In one study, women undergoing breast biopsies were provided with sandalwood, orange, peppermint, and lavender aromatherapy. The results found that the women’s anxiety lowered from before the aromatherapy to after.

In another study, participants inhaled sandalwood and lavender oil. Cortisol and blood pressure levels were lower after breathing in the scents.

You can harness the grounding, calming effects of sandalwood by diffusing its essential oil at bedtime. You may also diffuse or burn incense when you need to clean your space of negative energy and bring back a sense of compassion.

Sandalwood incense burning.

Anti-Inflammatory and Soothing

There is some evidence that sandalwood has anti-inflammatory effects, decreasing inflammation for people with skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. It accomplishes this by altering cell signaling in the body.

These anti-inflammatory effects are great at creating smooth and healthy-looking skin by reducing the appearance of imperfections. It can also be helpful when we need help with calming or soothing the skin. Studies have shown that sandalwood can reduce acne, as well as soothe insect bites, rashes, and sunburn thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Generating New Skin Cell Growth

The skin cells actually contain olfactory, or smell, receptors for sandalwood. When you activate these receptors in the skin, you can promote skin cell growth. This, in turn, helps to heal scratches and wounds on the skin, again reducing imperfections.

Beyond this, sandalwood essential oil is known to be antiseptic, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiproliferative. This is why sandalwood is often used as an active ingredient in skincare products. It may help with wrinkles, scarring, acne, skin tone, and irritated skin. In particular, sandalwood has a rich antioxidant content that helps reduce dryness, adding moisture to increase buoyancy, elasticity, and structure.

Fighting Skin Cancer

While more research needs to be done, it appears that sandalwood may actually help protect you from skin cancer. One study found that a compound called a-santalol, found in sandalwood, can help promote cell death for cancerous cells.

In Conclusion

Sandalwood has been in use for thousands of years, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. Understanding sandalwood incense meaning allows you to fully appreciate the long history that this incredibly powerful essential oil and incense has.

Whether you’re looking for beautifying effects, protective uses, or spiritual connection, sandalwood can be conducive to your specific needs. By appreciating the rich history first, you can utilize the all-around effects of this magical tool.

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