Evaluation of the effects of East Indian sandalwood oil and alpha-santalol on humans after transdermal absorption

Planta Med. 2004 Jan;70(1):3-7. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-815446.


The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of East Indian sandalwood oil ( Santalum album, Santalaceae) and alpha-santalol on physiological parameters as well as on mental and emotional conditions in healthy human subjects after transdermal absorption. In order to exclude any olfactory stimulation, the inhalation of the fragrances was prevented by breathing masks. Eight physiological parameters, i. e., blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, breathing rate, eye-blink rate, pulse rate, skin conductance, skin temperature, and surface electromyogram were recorded. Subjective mental and emotional condition was assessed by means of rating scales. While alpha-santalol caused significant physiological changes which are interpreted in terms of a relaxing/sedative effect, sandalwood oil provoked physiological deactivation but behavioral activation. These findings are likely to represent an uncoupling of physiological and behavioral arousal processes by sandalwood oil.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / administration & dosage
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Polycyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Pulse
  • Respiration / drug effects
  • Santalum*
  • Sesquiterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Skin Absorption
  • Skin Temperature / drug effects


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Plant Oils
  • Polycyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • santalol