Sandalwood is the wood of trees of the genus Santalum. It is used for incense, aromatherapy, and perfume, rather than building or carpentry, though temples have been built with sandalwood in India and retain the aroma after centuries. It is a deep base note and excellent fixative and is used to capture the head space aromas of other essential oils in distilling.
Indian sandalwood (S. album) is currently in serious shortage and very expensive. Some aromatherapists and perfumers are using Australian sandalwood (S. spicatum) as an alternative. The two species differ in the concentrations of constitutent chemicals and, thus, in odor. West Indian sandalwood (Amyris balsamifera) is neither Indian nor in the sandalwood family; it is in the rue family.
Sandalwood is considered in alternative medicine to bring one closer with the divine. Sandalwood essential oil, which is very expensive in its pure form, is used primarily for Ayurvedic purposes, and treating anxiety.