'Smelling' Sandalwood Through Your Skin Can Heal It (Sort of)

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Take note, sandalwood lovers.

sandalwood heals skin

Our sense of smell guides us in ways we don’t fully realize until we lose it—even temporarily—say from a stuffy nose or sinus infection that can quickly make us feel detached from the world and all of it’s fascinating odors. But our noses aren’t the only part of our body capable of smelling.

“In the past decade, scientists have discovered olfactory receptors lingering in strange places—in sperm, in the spine, and even in the kidneys,” PBS reported.

There are even scent receptors in the skin, according to a 2014 study. And, it turns out, those scent receptors may help to speed healing, too.

Researchers out of Ruhr University Bochum in Germany tested the skin’s response to different scents. They found the skin particularly aware of Sandalore, best known as synthetic sandalwood oil common in beauty products, perfumes, and aromatherapy. When exposed to Sandalore, the olfactory receptor in the skin, called OR2AT4, bypassed sending the information directly to the brain. Instead, “the receptor triggered cells to divide and migrate, important processes in repairing damaged skin,” reports New Scientist.

Cell proliferation increased by 32 per cent and cell migration by nearly half when keratinocytes in a test tube and in culture were mixed for five days with Sandalore. Natural sandalwood oil and 10 different synthetic versions were tested, but only three had a beneficial effect.”

So should you slather sandalwood all over your next skin injury?

Not exactly. The researchers used high concentrations of sandalwood—about a thousand times the strength of what would trigger smell receptors in the nose. And they note that while the findings may have implications for the future of medicine and skin-healing, genetics also play a factor. Just like some of us are more or less sensitive to smells (through our noses), our skin’s ability to respond to scents may vary, too.

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Image of woman with jar of lotion via Shutterstock

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