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[Atlas] Cedarwood - Cedrus [atlantica]

There are a range of cedarwoods, the most commonly used in western herbal and aromatherapy treatments being the Atlas Cedarwood ‘Cedrus atlantica’ - a pyramid-shaped evergreen tree, growing up to 40 metres, with hard, strongly aromatic wood containing a high percentage of essential oil.

Oil from the Lebanon Cedar is reportedly the first to have been extracted, and was used by ancient Egyptians for embalming purposes, as well as in cosmetics and perfumery. For centuries this oil was also an ingredient in the poison antidote ‘mithridat’. Wood from the Lebanon and Atlas Cedars made useful timber for building houses, with the added benefit that the odour repels insects!

The spicy smell of cedarwood is well known as an ingredient in pot-pourri, as well as in incenses, and as mentioned previously is an excellent insect repellant - dried cedar can be added to a bonfire to keep the mosquitos at bay (other suitable mosquito repelling herbs you could safely add to your bonfire is sage and rosemary). The Teto Dakota indians say that the fragrant smoke of burning cedar drives away ghosts. Cedar shavings can be added to wardrobes or chest of drawers as a moth deterrent - and will leave your clothes smelling a lot fresher than the traditional mothballs!

As an essential oil, cedarwood can be used to remedy blemished skin, dermatitis, eczema, fungal infections, greasy skin, hair loss, arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, nervous tension and stress related conditions. Add to a facial steam - or mix a few drops of the essential oil with a little milk (or carrier oil) and add to a bath, especially useful when you’re feeling full of cold!

! The oil is best avoided during pregnancy !

Here follows brief descriptions of the Texas and the Virginia Cedarwood - both which have similar uses and safety warnings - it is generally safer to use the Atlas Cedarwood [oil] :

The Texas Cedarwood [Juniperus ashei] is a small alpine evergreen tree with stiff green needles and an irregular shaped trunk - the branches tending to be crooked or twisted. Grows up to 7 metres high. The wood tends to crack easily - making it not suitable for timber. In New Mexico, native indians use cedarwood oil as a remedy for skin rashes, as well as in treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.

The Virginia Cedarwood [Juniperus Virginia] is a slow-growing, coniferous evergreen, reaching heights of 33 metres or so, the diameter of the trunks can reach over 1.5 metres. Has a reddish heartwood and bears brown cones.

Used by native american indians to treat respiratory infections. A decoction of the leaves, bark, twigs and fruits, is said to help with menstrual delay, rheumatism, arthritis, skin rashes, and kidney infections. Externally the oil is relatively non-toxic, but should still be used in dilution only, in moderation, and with care.

Like all the cedarwoods, it makes an excellent repellent, and not just against insects but also woodworm, moles, rats and the likes. The oil has in fact been extensively used in room sprays and household insect repellents.

! The oil of both the Texas and the Virginia Cedarwoods is a powerful abortifacient - Avoid during pregnancy !


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