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Red sandalwood, scientifically termed Pterocarpus santalinus L., is a renowned plant of the Ayurvedic system of medicine and traditionally used for treating many illnesses such as inflammation, wounds, skin problems and many others.
In India, red sandalwood is known by many names such as raktachandan, heartwood, lal chandan, ruby wood, agaru, anukam and red sanders. The wood of the plant is rich in many phytochemicals such as glycosides, essential oils, flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds such as flavonoids, tannins and phenolic acids. These compounds are known for their powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. 
In this article, we will discuss some of the amazing health benefits of red sandalwood and other details. Take a look.
1. Treats headache
Red sandalwood paste is used externally as a cooling agent to treat or manage headache. When applied on the forehead, it can relax and calm the mind, usually by balancing the pitta of the body, whose imbalance is considered the main cause for headache.
2. Heals wounds
The wood extracted from red sandal trees has wound-healing properties. Red sandalwood is mainly used to treat acute wounds caused due to diabetes complications. Also, the angiogenesis activity of the wood helps in the generation of new blood vessels and skin cells to heal wounds at a faster rate. 
3. Maintains good skin health
The potent anti-inflammatory, astringent and antioxidative effects of heartwood is used to treat many skin problems such as psoriasis, tanned skin, oily skin, sunburn, hyperpigmentation, acne, pimples and premature ageing. It is a great herb for almost all the skin problems. The red sandalwood powder is mixed with ingredients like lemon juice, curd and oils and applied on the skin to treat the aforementioned problems. 
4. Lowers cholesterol
Heartwood has lipid or cholesterol-lowering properties - the bark of the tree helps reduce the total and bad/LDL cholesterol in the body and increase the formation of HDL or good cholesterol. This is due to the presence of pterostilbene, gentisic acid, 3-hydroxybenzoic acid, alpha and beta resorcylic acid and vanillic acid in red sandalwood. 
5. Acts as an aphrodisiac
Aphrodisiacs are substances that are used to increase the sexual desire, sexual behaviour and pleasure. Red sandalwood is considered a natural aphrodisiac that may help improve the sexuality of a person by improving blood flow in the genitals, boosting moods and calming the nervous system. 
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6. Prevents stomach ulcers
The antioxidative properties of raktachandan may help prevent damage to the stomach cells caused due to free radicals and thus, prevent the risk of stomach ulcers. A study has shown that red sandalwood has gastroprotective effects against damage caused due to ibuprofen-induced ulcers. It also helps reduce the risk of gastric lesions, maintain the cell functions and health of intestinal mucosa against agents that cause ulcers. 
7. Manages diabetes
Polyphenols in heartwood may help lower the glucose levels in the body and improve insulin secretion. A study has shown that the presence of a mineral zinc in red sandalwood in a large amount can play a vital role in insulin synthesis, secretion and storage due to its anti-diabetic effect. 
8. Treats liver problems
Red sandalwood could be used to treat various liver problems caused due to free radicals. Flavonoids such as tannins and phenolic acids in the bark of the red sandal tree help scavenge free radicals and protect them.
9. Treats cough
Cough is mainly caused due to inflammation in the respiratory tracts by pathogens. The antimicrobial properties of red sandalwood helps kill the pathogens and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the inflammation, thus managing cough, sore throat and accumulation of mucus.
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10. Has chemopreventive effect
Natural polyphenols such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes and lignans in heartwood help target multiple pathways related to carcinogenesis, inflammation, cell proliferation, radiation and metastasis, all related to the formation of cancer. According to a study, Pterolinus K and pterolinus L extracted from red sandalwood have anti-cancer properties and may help reduce the risk of cancer types such as breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate. 
How To Use Red Sandalwood
- The powder form of heartwood is mixed with ingredients like lemon juice, rose water, turmeric and oils and applied on the face to treat various skin problems. Consult a medical practitioner before usage.
- The oil extracted from sandalwood is used in aromatherapy at home.
- Red sandalwood oil could be directly applied to the skin or mixed with lotion. It can also be used during bathing or in essential oil diffusers.
- Red sandalwood powder is mixed with honey and taken before meals to improve digestion.
- The powder is mixed with water and applied on swelled areas to reduce oedema.
- Red sandalwood fruit is used to prepare decoction to treat mucus and dysentery.
Note: In some people, applying red sandalwood directly on the skin can cause allergic reactions, therefore, it is suggested to do a patch test before applying. Also, if you are taking its powder form for diabetes, blood pressure or any chronic disorder, consult a medical expert before usage.
Downsides Of Red Sandalwood
Due to lack of sufficient studies, red sandalwood usage should be avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
It has diuretic properties and may lead to dehydration.
It is a very costly herb.
Red sandalwood has amazing health benefits; however, it is regarded as a dose-dependent herb and could only be used after consulting a doctor. If you are using cosmetic products that contain red sandalwood, first test for skin allergy and then proceed.
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