A Deeper Look Series: Cedarwood Essential Oil

Related to the Biblical cedar of Lebanon, the atlas cedarwood tree is native to the Atlas mountain range in Morocco and Algeria. Cedarwood Essential Oil, which is derived from the tree, is used for treating cystitis and vaginal infections. It can reduce cellulite, clear up mucus and decrease acne. It is also a mental remedy for weakness and fear and can give you strength and confidence in stressful or frightening situations.

Cedarwood Essential Oil


Cedarwood Essential Oil is obtained from the atlas cedar trees (Cedrus atlantica) that grow in Morocco and Algeria. Atlas cedars are a 40-50 metre (135-165 feet) tall evergreen conifer with grey to green needle-leaves which grow in clusters on the stem and the branches of the tree. The cones of the tree are cylindrical, brown in colour and grow to the length of about eight centimetres (two inches).

Atlas cedar is related to the biblical cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) which was a popular building material in the ancient times. It was raw material for ships, palaces and places of worship—the Solomon’s Temple among them.

The popularity of cedar of Lebanon as a building material stemmed from its ability to resist decay caused by insects and fungi. This in turn was due to its high essential oil content which kept the ravaging critters away, as well as giving any building on which it was used a pleasant aromatic fragrance. Today, the cedar of Lebanon is protected by law and cannot be used for building or essential oil production.

Essential Oil Extraction


Cedarwood Essential Oil is steam-distilled from the wood chips or sawdust of the atlas cedarwood tree. The best oil is obtained from trees that have been allowed to mature for 20-30 years. The essential oil is somewhat viscous and yellow to amber orange in colour. Its fragrance has been described as warm and woody.

The word cedar is derived from the Arabic word kedron meaning power. The tree symbolises strength and wealth, and even the oil that the tree yields is fortifying. Atlas cedarwood should not be confused with the North American red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) which also produces an essential oil but is not related to the cedarwood growing in North Africa.

Historical Uses of Cedarwood


The ancient Egyptians used cedarwood for perfuming and cosmetics. It was also an ingredient in the chemical process of embalming which the people of Kemet practiced for their deceased to preserve their mortal remains for posterity.

Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century English botanist, herbalist and physician, used cedarwood as a pulmonary and urinary antiseptic. Some 300 years later, in 1925, the French doctors Michel and Gilbert treated chronic bronchitis successfully with the help of cedarwood oil.

Chemical Composition

Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil contains sesquiterpene ketones α-atlantone and γ-atlantone which give it anti-inflammatory properties with a mucolytic effect. This makes it a possible antidote for hay fever.

The sesquiterpene alhocols, on the other hand, act as mucous membrane decongestants.

A chemical profile of Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil includes the following components:

Sesquiterpene ketones:

  • α-atlantone 2.65%
  • γ-atlantone 5.0%


  • Himachalenes 14.5%
  • α-himachalene 10.0%
  • β-himachalene 42%
  • Cis-bisabolene 1.2%

Sesquiterpene alcohols:

  • Himachalol 4.0%
  • Allo-himachalol 2.3%


  • Himachalene oxide 1.0%

Modern Day Uses of Cedarwood


Being diuretic as well as anti-inflammatory, Cedarwood Essential Oil is one of the best oils for treating interstitial cystitis. It can bring relief for urinary tract as well as vaginal infections and discharges.

We recommend making a salve from 2-3 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil mixed in Coconut Carrier Oil base and rubbing the mixture on your lower abdomen.

Cedarwood Essential Oil decreases cellulite and reduces oedema. In addition, cedarwood stimulates the breakdown of adipose tissue and may increase lymphatic drainage.

In order to release stagnant lymphatic fluid and to reduce fatty tissue, make a cream from 2-3 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil added to Almond Carrier Oil. Rub the mixture on the lymph nodes, located on the neck, armpits and the crotch. You can also massage the mixture on the fatty areas of your body, or have your partner give you a deeply relaxing aromatic massage using Cedarwood Essential Oil.

As an astringent and antiseptic, Cedarwood Essential Oil has a couple of important uses in skin and hair care. It is said to treat dandruff and increase hair growth. Cedarwood Essential Oil has a balancing effect on the sebum secreted by the skin of your scalp. It can also normalise oily skin, which makes it a wonderful remedy for acne. As a woody fragrance, Cedarwood Essential Oil will be appreciated by teenage boys, the demographic most likely to suffer from this skin condition.

For a cleansing skin treatment, add a couple of drops of Cedarwoood Essential Oil into a natural skin lotion. Use cotton balls to apply the lotion onto the affected areas of the skin.

Thanks to the sesquiterpene ketones present in Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil, it has a mucolytic effect on the mucous membrane. In other words, it clears up mucus and can be used to treat such ailments as catarrh, cough and bronchitis.

To treat any of the above conditions, prepare a vapour inhalant by adding 2-3 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil into hot water and breathing in the steam with your head covered by a towel.

Finally, Cedarwood Essential Oil has a grounding and strengthening effect on the mind. It works on the nervous system, stimulating the Qi-energy and reducing stress and anxiety. One of the best ways to relax and settle your mind is simply to smell the aroma of an essential oil directly from the bottle. This advice applies also to cedarwood.

Energetics of Cedarwood


Cedarwood Essential Oil stabilises the body’s out-of-balance energies. It is warming and life-affirming and can calm the mind in threatening situations.

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, atlas cedarwood is seen to increase energy in the kidneys, spleen and pancreas. It can be used to counteract lethargy and nervous frailty as well as to boost concentration. It also has a beneficial effect on lower back pain.

Cedarwood Personality


A cedarwood personality inspires confidence in others and builds up those nearby. Because of its inner strength and natural dignity, it may sometimes come across as arrogant. What looks like aloofness, however, is in reality self-assuredness and trustworthiness.

Essential Oil Safety

Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitising. There is conflicting information on its safety during pregnancy. Our advice is to refrain from using it when pregnant.

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