The oil of the sweet-smelling sandalwood tree has a long history of use as a perfume and incense fragrance. Sandalwood oil also has a medicinal tradition in various countries, having been used for digestive distress, liver problems, acne and other skin problems, gonorrhea, anxiety, and insomnia. Additionally, it has played a role in some Hindu religious ceremonies, and has been used as a meditation aid.

Sandalwood oil has been approved by German’s Commission E for treatment of bladder infections.1 It is not recommended as sole treatment, but rather as an accompaniment to conventional care. However, there is no meaningful evidence that it is effective for this purpose. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can prove that a treatment really works, and no studies of this type have been performed with sandalwood. (For information on why such studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies?)

Weak evidence, far too preliminary to rely upon at all, hints that sandalwood may have antiviral,2 anti– Helicobacterpylori ( Helicobacter pylori is the underlying cause of most stomach ulcers),3sedative,4,5 and cancer-preventive6-8 properties.