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Overview Information

White sandalwood is an evergreen tree. The oil from the wood and the wood are used as medicine. Don't confuse white sandalwood with red sandalwood.

People use white sandalwood for the common cold, bronchitis, vaginal infections, bladder infections, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

In food and beverages, white sandalwood is used as a flavoring.

In manufacturing, white sandalwood oil is used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes.

How does it work?

White sandalwood might help prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria. It might also reduce spasms and help people relax. But more information is needed.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Mental alertness. Early research suggests that inhaling fragrance from white sandalwood oil for 20 minutes or applying white sandalwood oil to the skin does not improve mental alertness or attentiveness in healthy individuals.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the vagina (vaginitis). Early research shows that taking a mixture of white sandalwood, tamarind, and neem may reduce discomfort and discharge from the vagina in women with a vaginal infection.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Common cold.
  • Cough.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Fevers.
  • Sore mouth and throat.
  • Headache.
  • Heatstroke.
  • Liver and gallbladder problems.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of white sandalwood for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: White sandalwood is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. But it is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine for longer than 6 weeks. There have been reports of kidney damage with prolonged use. White sandalwood can also cause itching, nausea, and stomach upset.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if white sandalwood is safe in amounts greater than those contained in cosmetics. Contact with white sandalwood can cause allergic skin reactions in some people.

When inhaled: There isn't enough reliable information to know if white sandalwood is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking white sandalwood by mouth in greater-than-food amounts is LIKELY UNSAFE if you are pregnant. There have been reports of miscarriages.

There isn't enough reliable information to know if white sandalwood is safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Kidney disease: Don't use white sandalwood if you have kidney problems. It might make kidney disease worse.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Lithium interacts with WHITE SANDALWOOD

    White sandalwood might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking white sandalwood might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.



The appropriate dose of white sandalwood depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for white sandalwood. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Hayakawa, R., Matsunaga, K., and Arima, Y. Depigmented contact dermatitis due to incense. Contact Dermatitis 1987;16(5):272-274. View abstract.
  • Bhat TA, Begum W. Efficacy of Tamarindus indicus, Melia azadirach and Santalum album in syndromic management of abnormal vaginal discharge: A single-blind randomised controlled trial. J Complement Integr Med. 2017;15(2). View abstract.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
  • Heuberger, E., Hongratanaworakit, T., and Buchbauer, G. East Indian Sandalwood and alpha-santalol odor increase physiological and self-rated arousal in humans. Planta Med 2006;72(9):792-800. View abstract.
  • Höferl M, Hütter C, Buchbauer G. A pilot study on the physiological effects of three essential oils in humans. Nat Prod Commun. 2016;11(10):1561-1564. View abstract.
  • Hongratanaworakit, T., Heuberger, E., and Buchbauer, G. Evaluation of the effects of East Indian sandalwood oil and alpha-santalol on humans after transdermal absorption. Planta Med 2004;70(1):3-7. View abstract.
  • Kyle, G. Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care patients: results of a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006;12(2):148-155. View abstract.
  • Misra BB, Dey S. Comparative phytochemical analysis and antibacterial efficacy of in vitro and in vivo extracts from East Indian sandalwood tree (Santalum album L.). Lett Appl Microbiol. 2012;55(6):476-86. View abstract.
  • Sharma, R., Bajaj, A. K., and Singh, K. G. Sandalwood dermatitis. Int J Dermatol 1987;26(9):597. View abstract.
  • Warshaw EM, Zug KA, Belsito DV, et al. Positive patch-test reactions to essential oils in consecutive patients from North America and Central Europe. Dermatitis. 2017;28(4):246-252. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
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