Ethical Issues with Sandalwood Essential Oil
Posted on 12 November 2015 by Leonie Satori
Sandalwood is one of the most precious essential raw materials used today for creating organic essential oils for use in aromatherapy and natural body care products. However, some may not be aware of the environmental and ethical issues associated with sandalwood oil today.
What are the different kinds of sandalwood?
While there are several types of sandalwood trees grown for various purposes, there are two main types that are considered for commercial use in aromatherapy. Until recent years, the Indian sandalwood or Santalum album was predominantly used in Ayurvedic herbal medicine, by aromatherapists and in herbal incense. However, as these trees take many years to mature, this fragrant tree has become a target for illegal harvesting of wild crafted sandalwood in India. This in turn has increased the price of Indian sandalwood throughout the world and has threatened the future of wild harvesting the fragrant wood of this tree. Due to illegal harvesting and short supply of this plant in its natural habitat, Santalum album is now considered a threatened species of sandalwood tree in India.
About Australian sandalwood
The second significant sandalwood tree with suitability for producing essential oils is the Australian sandalwood Santalum spicatum, which is native to the semiarid areas of the south west of Western Australia. Producing a lighter and less intense essential oil than the Santalum album, Santalum spicatum is fast becoming the preferred option for herbalists and for use in aromatherapy. With a long history of sustainable harvest, Australian sandalwood has been regulated since the 1920s, with management of wild harvesting and stringent guidelines for replanting and the establishment of sandalwood plantations.
Considered to be very similar in constituents and actions to Indian sandalwood, Australian sandalwood has a history of use for its topical antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. The woody fragrance of Australian sandalwood is calming and soothing and suitable for massage, essential oil diffusers and also for a range of natural skin care applications.
In addition to the native Australian sandalwood harvested and planted in WA, in recent years, plantations of Indian sandalwood, Santalum album have been grown in the Pilbara of Western Australia, near Kununurra. These plantations are set to make Australia to become the world’s largest grower of ethically grown sandalwood.
Choosing Australian grown sandalwood
Preserving the beauty and therapeutic qualities of both Australian and Indian sandalwood, Australia is leading the way by producing ethical and sustainable plantation and harvest of sandalwood for use in aromatherapy, Ayurvedic herbal medicine and organic skin care products.
Choosing organic essential oil from Australian grown sandalwood is not just Australian, but also the ethical, sustainable and environmental choice for aromatherapy.
About the Author
Leonie Satori is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist with a passion for good food, healthy living and of course, herbal medicine. When she is not consulting in her wellness clinic in Lismore or blogging about nutrition, Ayurvedic Medicine or natural health, she is studying yoga, growing her own herbs and vegetables or quietly walking in the natural bush land in Northern Rivers NSW.
Contact our health centre in Lismore to book an appointment with Leonie in our naturopathic clinic.