While cedarwood essential oil may be popular now for its pleasing scent and its ability to repel pesky insects, its roots actually go much further than that. Because of its sweet, woody aroma, the oil has gained popularity as a vital ingredient in perfumes. However, there's definitely more to cedarwood essential oil than meets the eye -- and the nose.
Cedarwood essential oil boasts a plethora of uses and benefits. It can help reduce hair loss, improve your skin, relieve pain, and so much more. What's even more interesting, however, is that cedarwood oil has actually been around for longer than you might expect.
Cedar trees prefer colder climates and are usually found in higher altitudes. Nowadays, not all trees that are called “cedar” are the same species—or even the same genus—as the cedars of Biblical fame. Cedrus atlantica is one of the more closely related among the four major modern-day cedars, and in the United States, most of the highest quality essential oils produced from cedarwood come from Texas.
There are other essential oil brands that get their cedarwood essential oil from China-grown varieties of cedar. However, these varieties produce essential oils of poorer quality, with questionable claims of purity.
It is important to note that not all essential oils are the same, even if they happen to share a name. The cedarwood essential oil from China might not hold a candle to the cedarwood essential oil from Texas. That is exactly why here at Aroma Foundry, we source our cedarwood essential oil from the Texas variety of cedar trees.
We did a side-by-side comparison with two of the world's biggest essential oil brands.
Essential oil from cedarwood is believed to be one of the first distilled by man. There’s plenty of existing evidence that tells of how early humans put cedarwood essential oil to various uses, taking full advantage of its antiseptic and sedative effects, among many others.
For instance, recent findings suggest that despite the relative difficulty of extracting essential oils from cedar, Ancient Egyptians used substantial amounts of the precious nectar to embalm their dead. We can all take the well-preserved state of Egyptian mummies as proof of the strength of cedarwood oil’s insecticidal and antimicrobial properties.
Other ancient cultures that took notice of the beneficial benefits of cedarwood include the Tibetans and the Native Americans. In recognition of cedarwood essential oil’s ability to calm the body while rejuvenating the mind, it’s been used in meditative and purifying ceremonies not only throughout history but also across religions and spiritual practices.
The best method for extracting different kinds of oils is through distillation. This process is where plant material—the bark and wood in the case of cedar—is subjected to heat. The temperature, pressure, and specific time vary depending on the raw material, but it all must be regulated in such a way that the desired chemical components in the form of oil are extracted from the plant structure without being damaged.
When processed properly, essential oils like those made from cedarwood are packed with a dizzying array of chemical compounds.
Each of these compounds possesses specific effects that oftentimes have more than one function. For instance, oil extracted from Cedrus atlantica contains around 50% of sesquiterpenes, a compound which helps improve the delivery of oxygen to the brain cells. In addition to warding against neurodegeneration, this compound is anti-inflammatory and has been found to help in treating cancer by making tumor cells more responsive to the conventional drugs being administered.
And this is just for starters. Read on to learn more about the many other benefits and uses of cedarwood essential oil.
Benefits and Uses of Cedarwood Essential Oil
There are a myriad of ways you could use cedarwood essential oil in order to help treat various ailments, but did you know that even the simple act of inhaling its scent could provide immediate and unmistakable benefits?
An essential oil’s scent is basically made up of microdroplets of that same substance. When these are inhaled, they are instantly transported to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain responsible for processing not just smells but also reason and emotions. These microdroplets then advance towards the hypothalamus, which is the command center for all the hormones in the body. Lastly, the microdroplets that are being breathed in will reach the lungs, and from there they'll enter the circulatory system and disperse throughout the body.
It is through this process that you can enjoy other welcome effects even while using a specific essential oil for another purpose. Needless to say, you can also get this benefit from cedarwood essential oil in conjunction with other treatments. Treatments such as:
1. Disinfecting wounds
Cedarwood oil is a natural antiseptic. Due to its potent antibacterial properties, it can ward against infections when applied in its diluted form to topical wounds. As it is generally not recommended to use essential oils in their pure state, try adding a few drops to an antiseptic cream or mix it with equal parts water. Apply the resulting mixture over the wound or dab using cotton and repeat as often as needed. This will help kill bacteria trapped in the flesh and prevent more from invading, which aids in facilitating faster healing.
2. Killing fungal infections
Unlike bacteria, fungal infections typically take longer to treat because they’ve literally taken root in the affected areas. In addition to being antibacterial, cedarwood essential oil is also antifungal, meaning it has distinct properties that are specifically designed for fighting afflictions like athlete’s foot and nail fungus. It targets the problem from the surface down to the roots which, with regular maintenance, should help eliminate the infection and prevent it from coming back.
3. Reducing hair loss
Hair loss is a great concern for many, even for those not suffering from alopecia or other similar conditions. Instead of resorting to synthetic cocktails like rogaine, try the natural route and use cedarwood oil instead. After diluting with equal parts water or adding 2-3 drops to a spoonful of coconut oil, massage it into the scalp in order to increase circulation. Rub for five minutes and rinse after half an hour.
Cedarwood essential oil also works great for moisturizing dry hair and scalp. Simply add a few drops into your favorite shampoo and conditioner and enjoy the scent while the oil works wonders on your locks.
For more severe cases of hair loss, combine cedarwood essential oil with rosemary essential oil, thyme essential oil, and/or lavender essential oil. After making sure that the combined oils are properly diluted, apply as stated above or add to your hair products. Regular and long-term use will help stimulate your hair follicles and should result in a noticeable reduction of hair loss even as it promotes hair regrowth.
Which other essential oils can help you with hair care?
4. Easing arthritis
Because of the anti-inflammatory compounds abundant in cedarwood essential oil, it is highly effective in easing joint pain and stiffness caused by arthritis. By being massaged onto the skin and simultaneously being inhaled, cedarwood oil works in two different ways in order to help reduce joint and tissue inflammation and dull the perception of pain. To give the entire body the same benefit, try adding 5-10 drops of this oil to your daily bath.
5. Boosting the respiratory system
The presence of potent microdroplets in essential oils means that whatever benefits they carry can instantly be absorbed by the lungs, and because cedarwood oil is a natural sedative, it can help relieve respiratory problems like asthma.
Chronic coughing can also be eased by inhaling this essential oil’s scent. If your lungs feel congested or if there’s stubborn phlegm in your respiratory tract that needs getting rid of, rub a few diluted drops of cedarwood essential oil onto your throat and chest for several minutes, breathing in the relaxing scent deeply as you go.
6. Regulating the menstrual cycle
Another special function of cedarwood essential oil is the stimulation and, eventually, the stabilization of a woman’s menstrual cycle. That is because it’s also a natural emmenagogue, or a substance that can induce blood flow in the woman’s pelvic area, which can be especially beneficial for those suffering from irregular periods.
Recall that essential oils in general can have a direct effect on the body’s hormonal levels, and cedarwood essential oil is no different. In this case, it could kill multiple birds with one stone because most women who’d need an emmenagogue also tend to suffer from severe PMS symptoms like fatigue, abdominal cramps, nausea, and mood swings.
7. Helping with insomnia
Having trouble falling and staying asleep? Rest easy. In its function as a sedative, cedarwood essential oil can also induce total body relaxation while gently ridding your mind of intrusive thoughts—in short, a perfect recipe for getting some snooze. When used as your oil of choice for aromatherapy, cedarwood may also facilitate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s converted by your brain into melatonin to promote uninterrupted and restorative sleep.
8. Ridding skin of blemishes
Acne and eczema are just two of the most common skin problems millions of people worldwide have to deal with. And oftentimes, the impact of these conditions aren’t limited to what can be seen by the naked eye—they can also cause or perhaps exacerbate mental health issues if left untreated for too long.
But most remedies available in the market aren’t suited for all skin types. What’s effective for some could have the opposite effect for others. If you’ve tried everything else with very little to show for it, give a natural remedy like cedarwood essential oil a try.
Eczema is primarily caused by the overproduction of sebum which often leads to the inflammation of epidermal cells. As an antiseborrheic, cedarwood oil can help reduce this inflammation, attacking the infection deep in the skin’s layers while trying to stabilize the sebum production and reducing skin peeling. It might take time to show the desired results because no remedy is instant, but regular application of this essential oil—either directly to the skin after dilution or by adding a few drops to your liquid soap or lotion—should be able to show steady improvements.
Acne’s causes can be a lot harder to pinpoint. In adults, it’s most likely a symptom of hormonal imbalance, but it would take consulting a doctor to know for sure. One thing will always be certain: whatever the cause of your acne, you simply want it gone.
One of cedarwood oil’s main effects when applied to the skin is as an astringent. By inducing the skin to form a protective layer made up of proteins, it essentially leaves little to no space for dirt and bacteria to lodge and fester. Those already inside would of course die a quick death due to cedarwood oil’s antimicrobial properties. To take advantage of these benefits, simply add a drop or two of oil onto your facial soap or lotion, or else rub directly onto your skin after dilution.
For other ways you can use cedarwood essential oil to help you get rid of blemishes, see Recipes.
Which other essential oils can help you get rid of blemishes?
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9. Clearing toxins from the body
Excessive water retention and the accumulation of toxins within the body are two of the main causes for conditions like urinary tract infection, high blood pressure, and hypertension, among many others. A natural diuretic like cedarwood oil can help induce frequent urination, which facilitates the flushing away of toxins and water trapped within the body. Please note that this essential oil does not have to be ingested for these benefits to be enjoyed. Simply massage the oil over where your kidneys and bladder should be and wait for the effects.
10. Calming symptoms of ADHD
Children with ADHD would more often than not grow into adults with ADHD, and some of these adults were never diagnosed during childhood to begin with. If you suspect you might be one of these individuals due to your persisting and, at times, life-ruining difficulties with maintaining focus, you’ll be glad to know about a recent study which suggested that inhaling the essential oil from either cedarwood or vetiver three times a day for a month could improve memory and focus in sufferers of ADHD.
The study was conducted on children, and the number of subjects was not large enough to provide unquestionable statistical results, but anecdotal evidence coming from the parents of these subjects go a long way into substantiating the conclusion reached. Further research is needed—using a larger pool next time and/or including adults as test subjects—but why wait for those results when you can conduct an experiment of your own?
11. Soothing insect bites
In the same way it helps heal wounds and reduce inflammation, cedarwood essential oil works great for treating itchy insect bites. But you could also put the oil to a much better use by using it as an insect repellant that can help stop those pesky insects from biting you in the first place. Since time immemorial, cedarwood has been used for this very purpose. The fact that we still know about this particular purpose speaks highly of its efficacy.
For a handy insect spray, mix five drops of this essential oil with an ounce of water. Shake thoroughly before each use and spray where and when needed. Check out the Recipes section for more insect-repelling ideas.
Which other essential oils can help you repel insects?
12. Tightening skin and muscles
Anyone who’s ever gone through weight fluctuations knows that it hits the skin the hardest. Losing pounds quickly sounds great on paper, but it often leaves you with flaps of flesh with prominent stretch marks over diminished muscles—it’s like trading one image problem with another. But don’t go rushing to get that surgery done unless your particular situation really calls for it. Instead, try out a natural astringent like cedarwood oil, which could help lessen the appearance of stretch marks while tightening up loose flesh and muscles. Add up to eight drops to a carrier oil and massage all over your body regularly.
13. Relieving muscle spasms
Muscle spasms are common among older individuals. They center around any big group of muscles and are usually not life-threatening. But they can be quite alarming, especially if the spasms happen near the heart. It often results in restless nights: who can sleep soundly when it seems like their heart is about to burst out of their ribcage any moment?
Another form of muscle spasm that can cause sleeplessness is the condition called restless leg syndrome. It’s a strange phenomenon that usually happens at night when a person is already in bed. The legs start to get weirdly “itchy” even though there’s no perceivable spot that needs scratching. Others report getting an unpleasant urge to stretch or move them, but doing so offers only a temporary relief, and the urge persists until the person falls into exhausted sleep.
One of cedarwood essential oil’s many job descriptions is as an antispasmodic, meaning it has properties that are specifically meant to relieve muscle spasms. Acting in conjunction with its sedating effects, this oil is ideal for helping those ticking or restless muscles to settle down while simultaneously prepping your mind and the rest of your body for a good night’s sleep.
14. Improving mental balance
Last but definitely not least in our list of the uses and benefits of cedarwood essential oil is its ability to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and improve a person’s mood. Chemical antidepressants are notoriously hit and miss. If they work for a patient at all, they usually take a long time and more often than not have undesirable side effects. While cedarwood essential oil is not a cure-all either, it’s fast-acting, and you can enjoy its benefits any time, any day without risk of overdosing.
Whenever you feel like the worries of the world are weighing you down, give cedarwood oil a nice long whiff, or put some on your diffuser and bask in its fragrance. Doing this could help promote the production of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s also responsible for improving and stabilizing mood, and the more of it the body releases, the better it will be able to stave off symptoms of depression.
Which other essential oils can help you improve your mood?
Cedarwood oil is not recommended for pregnant women to use, mainly because it can act as an emmenagogue, which induces menstruation. It is generally inadvisable to ingest essential oils, especially if they’re highly concentrated like cedarwood is. Oral administration can cause nausea, vomiting, or dehydration, and may even damage the stomach. Always dilute appropriate measures of cedarwood oil in water or in other carrier mediums and perform a patch test before any extensive topical use. In case of direct contact with undiluted oil, please do not panic. Use a carrier oil like coconut to remove the spill. Essential oils are not recommended for the use of those with conditions like epilepsy. Keep out of children’s reach.
Cedarwood makes for a great base note in perfumes. The number of drops can vary depending on how strongly you wish to make it, but up to 20 is usually the ceiling, and only when going for a more herbal mix. Middle note scents that would blend well with cedarwood include lavender and chamomile (up to 30 drops is usually necessary), and top notes include wild orange and other citrus scents (for this, fewer drops are required). Have fun mixing and matching essential oils of your choice, but if you need a starting point, here are a couple of examples.
For a heady wood-scented mix ideal for men:
- 5 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 3 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
- 2 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil
- 70 proof alcohol – 300 mL (or less, depending on the desired concentration)
For a lighter and refreshing spritz:
- 3 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 3 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil
- 70 proof alcohol – 300 mL (or less, depending on the desired concentration)
You don’t have to be limited to just one kind of essential oil for each note. However, essential oils are potent, and citrus essential oils are especially so—they’d eat away at plastic, so be sure to mix and store the blends in a glass spray bottle, preferably a thick and dark one that would protect your perfume from light degradation.
- Mix the essential oils in a dark glass bottle and let it sit for a few days.
- Add in the high proof alcohol and cap the bottle securely.
- Give it a thorough shake and set aside for a while, away from sunlight.
It’s up to you if you’d like to use your very own cedarwood-based perfume at once, but for best results, let the oils blend more thoroughly for at least a month.
Don’t settle for getting clear skin—make it as healthy as it could be and ensure it stays that way. Following are several recipes for a clearer, more acne-resistant skin.
Oily skin? Mix together:
- 4 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 2 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 2 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil
- 4 tsps Jojoba oil (carrier)
Application: With a cotton pad, use the resulting mixture as a facial wipe to help unclog pores and remove excess oil.
Rough skin? Mix together:
- 2 cups Sea salt
- Coconut oil (carrier)
- 2 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 2 drops Orange Essential Oil (optional)
Instructions: Use just enough of your carrier oil with the sea salt to form a paste. Add in the essential oil(s) and mix well. Store properly in a dark glass jar and use as an exfoliant when needed, or use as a scrub for the whole body.
Want acne-resistant skin? Mix together:
- 3 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 2 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 6-8 tsps Jojoba oil (carrier)
Application: Use as a serum by applying directly to skin or wiping using cotton pads. Be sure not to skimp on the carrier oil to ensure the resulting essential oil blend is not harmfully potent.
You can take advantage of cedarwood essential oil’s power by not just using it for personal use but also for the household as well. Use it in a diffuser or vaporizer and let it permeate every room, or put it through practical use by doing the following.
For a deodorizer:
- Mix around 10 drops of cedarwood oil with distilled water or with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle.
- Shake well and spray where and when needed.
For a bug repellant:
The resulting mixture would be stronger (and more fragrant!), so empty the room or house of all inhabitants and be sure to cover your nose and mouth while spraying. Let the bug spray do its job for at least half an hour before going back in and enjoying the cedarwood oil’s scent.
See Aroma Foundry's whole range of pure and all-natural essential oils.
We hope that by now you are sufficiently intrigued by what essential oils can do and how cedarwood essential oil in particular can benefit you. Used throughout antiquity for its powerful antibacterial and insecticidal properties, cedarwood oil is now also being shown to be effective against recently recognized ailments like ADHD and depression.
Perhaps while reading through this article, you’ve found yourself recalling a person close to you and thinking, “This could be good for him/her.” It might really spell the difference on whether that person gets better or not, so let them know you care and tell them about us.
Aroma Foundry’s range of essential oils are made from top quality raw materials and are processed using the highest processing standards. Our cedarwood essential oil is 100% pure and all-natural, offering the full range of benefits listed above.
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- Friedmann, Terry S. "Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)." http://files.meetup.com/1481956/ADHD Research by Dr. Terry Friedmann.pdf.
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- "How To Use Cedarwood Essential Oil In 21 Powerful Ways." UpNature. https://www.up-nature.com/blogs/news/21-miraculous-uses-for-cedarwood-essential-oil.
- Radford, Tim. "Cedar Oil Used in Mummies." The Guardian. October 23, 2003. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/oct/23/arts.science.
- "The Biblical Oil of Cedarwood." Easy Essential Oils. http://www.easy-essential-oils.com/Cedarwood.html.