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