Cedarwood essential oil: The wisdom oil - The essential oils collection [Oils101]

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Our sense of smell is strongly connected to our emotions and memories as our scent receptors are located next to the emotional centers in our brain, the amygdala and hippocampus. That is one of the reasons why aromatherapy is so powerful – using oils can trigger the body’s own healing process to begin, as well as soothe and calm your mind to actually allow the process to take place.  Essential oils can also interact with certain hormones, neurotransmitters, or enzymes, resulting in a specific change to our bodies’ chemistry. Oils are powerful, and they have little or no side effects.

Cedarwood Essential Oil

Basil essential oil, a life lead simply, natural health

This tree oil has a long history of being associated with strength, protection, wisdom and abundance. If you consider its properties, it comes as no surprise! Cedarwood essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antifungal, tonic, astringent, diuretic, sedative and insecticidal properties, and the aroma is calming, grounding and reassuring.

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There are four species that belong to the Cedrus plant genus, and the oil is extracted from these four species’ wood. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the Virginian Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), also called the pencil cedar. The major components of cedarwood essential oil are alpha-cedrene, beta-cedrene, cedrol, sesquiterpenes, thujopsene and widdrol — all of which contribute a great deal to its amazing health benefits.

Some of these health benefits include positive improvement of:

  • Anxiety

  • Nervous tension

  • Concentration

  • Catarrhal conditions

  • Coughs

  • Chronic bronchitis

  • Cystitis

  • Acne

  • Stress

[Refer to the safety information mentioned below.]

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Botanical name

Juniperus virginiana

Common method of extraction

Steam Distilled

Plant part typically used





Medium and oily feeling

Perfumery note


Strength of initial aroma


Aromatic description

Fresh, woody, balsamic.

Benefits and uses

1.       Eczema treatment

Characterised by dry, red and itchy skin that can also blister or crack, eczema is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Cedarwood essential oil is effective in reducing the inflammation and dryness that eczema causes.

2.       Hair loss

The essential oil seems to stimulate the hair follicles and increase circulation to the scalp. This contributes to hair growth and may slow hair loss. Herbalists and aromatherapists often recommend cedarwood essential oil for hair loss, thinning hair and various types of alopecia.

3.       Dry scalp (dandruff)

Cedarwood essential oil is often used to improve a dry or flaky scalp by stimulating circulation. Make a healing hair and scalp mask by mixing a few drops of oil into coconut oil, then massaging it into your scalp. Leave on for 30minutes, then wash out.

4.       Wound healing

Cedarwood essential oil is a natural antiseptic, meaning that it can assist in preventing the development and growth of harmful microorganisms that can negatively affect skin health. For this reason it can be used to disinfect wounds – dilute a few drops of the oil in a carrier oil and apply to cuts, scrapes and other skin ailments.

5.       Helps soothe arthritis pains

Cedarwood essential oil can be used to manage the inflammation of the joints and tissues, which are common symptoms of arthritis. Because of the oil’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, the oil is very effective in reducing joint stiffness and discomfort.  

6.       Natural deodorizer

Cedarwood essential oil has a pleasant wood-like scent that adds a warm tone to any blend of perfumes or oil mixtures. It can also be used as a natural deodorizer to freshen the air.

7.       Sedative and calming effects 

Cedarwood essential oil is comforting, reassuring and grounding, perfect for calming busy and overwhelmed minds. Try diffusing the oil before bed to take advantage of its sedative effects.

8.       Serves as a diuretic

Cedarwood essential oil’s active compounds, including cedrol, beta-cedrene and thujopsene, are known to be diurectic properties. This means that cedarwood oil may be able to increase the frequency of urination helping the body to remove toxins and excess water from the body.

9.       Improves Focus and ADHD 

Cedarwood is believed to improve the oxygenation of brain cells and to have a calming effect. Its scent promotes the release of serotonin, which is then converted into melatonin in the brain, and thus can help you enjoy peaceful and restorative sleep.

10.   Cough relief

Since cedarwood essential oil has antispasmodic properties, it may help to relieve a cough. To help manage a cough, rub two drops of diluted oil onto your chest and throat and rub it in for a minute.

11.   Insect repellent

Cedarwood essential oil is known to drive away pests, especially moths, ants, ticks and fleas. You can dilute the oil in water to spray on your skin as a natural bug spray to keep them away outdoors, or use a diffuser to keep them out of the house. You can also spray diluted cedarwood essential oil on your furniture to keep pests away. To combat fish moths eating your clothes, place a few drops of the oil on a cloth and place that in your cupboards.

12.   Tension reliever

Because cedarwood essential oil is a sedative, it has the power to relieve tension and stress that can negatively affect your health. It has a soothing and calming effect on the mind, reduces inflammation and muscle pain, and minimizes skin irritation.

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Cedarwood essential oil should only be used externally. Although some essential oils can be added to food or ingested orally in minimal amounts, it’s not safe to consume cedarwood essential oil internally. If consumed internally, cedarwood essential oil side effects can include vomiting, nausea, thirst and extensive damage to the digestive system.

Women who are pregnant should not use cedarwood essential oil. Talk to your doctor before using this oil if you are nursing, if you have a medical condition or are currently taking medication.

If used in high concentrations, cedarwood essential oil can cause skin irritation. Always dilute cedarwood oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil before using it on the skin and avoid the eyes, mucous membranes and sensitive areas. Like all essential oils, keep cedarwood out of the reach of children and pets.

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 Major constituents:

  • a-Cedrene

  • Thujopsene

  • Cedrol

  • B-Cedrene

  • a-Selinene

Blending tips:

Cedarwood oil blends with Clary Sage, Frankincense, Orange, Jasmine, Black Pepper, Cypress, Geranium, Nutmeg, Sandalwood, Orange, Rosemary, Vetiver and Ylang-Ylang oil. It is particularly complementary with other base-scent oils.

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Word of Caution: 

Bergamot oil must be protected from sunlight, because bergapten, one of its components, becomes poisonous if exposed to sunlight. That is why the oil should always be stored in dark bottles in dark places.

Interactions and side effects of basil essential oil

Basil essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy since it can have an impact on hormonal levels as well as muscle and nerve function. It’s also not appropriate for anyone with epilepsy.

As with all essential oils, especially those that are new to you, always test for skin sensitivity prior to using them on sensitive or widespread areas. Do a skin patch test first on your feet or forearm to make sure you don’t experience irritation like redness, burning, hives or allergic reactions. Also, keep basil oil away from your eyes and the insides of your ears or nose.

General safety information

Because essential oils are highly concentrated they should always be used with caution. Essential oils should not be used undiluted, and should never be applied to the eyes or mucous membranes. Toxicity can occur if too much of the oil is absorbed, hence always dilute. A skin patch test is always recommended prior to using any new essential oil, or after first time use after a long break. Although most essential oils have been proven by science to work as efficiently, or even more, as allopathic drugs, they are not a substitute for medical care. Chronic conditions should not be self-treated, and you should never avoid or delay getting standard medical care. Always consult with your doctor first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their doctor before using any natural or alternative treatment, and also speak to your doctor first before using oils on your kids. People who are epileptic, have liver damage or issues, have cancer, are diabetic, or have any other medical problem, or who suspect they might have any of these conditions, should definitely consult with their doctor first.

Shelf life and care:

Although pure essential oils do not go rancid, they do gradually lose their therapeutic value and aroma as a result of oxidation. The lifespan varies according to the botanical, distillation process, storage and care as well as manufacturer and supplier. To maximize the shelf life, store the oils in dark glass bottles, tightly closed, in a cool and dry place. Keep out of the sun. If the aroma, thickness or colour has changed, discard.

Important information about essential oils:

The essential oil information provided on A life lead simply is intended for educational purposes only. The references to safety information, constituents and percentages is generalized information. The data is not necessary complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate. The essential oil photos are intended to represent the typical and approximate colour of each essential oil. However, essential oil colour can vary based on harvesting, distillation, age of the essential oil and other factors.

Essential oil book suggestions:

Wilson, R. 2002. Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty. This book covers the extraction of Essential oils.

Lawless, J. 2013. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health and Well Being. San Francisco: Conari Press.

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