Cedar essential oil has been used in medicine and cosmetics throughout the ages. Atlas cedarwood is believed to have been used by the ancient Egyptians for embalming purposes, cosmetics and perfumery.1 According to the Song of Solomon, cedarwood was used to build Solomon’s temple and symbolized abundance, fertility, and spiritual strength. In fact, the name Cedar can be traced back to the Arabic word kedron, which can be translated to ‘power’1. The essential oil was one of the ingredients of 'mithridat', a poison antidote used for centuries. Cedarwood has been used as a temple incense by Tibetan Buddhists for centuries to enhance mental strength, endurance and certainty.2 Use of cedar oil has also been documented in Europe to treat both bronchial and urinary tract infections.1
Therapeutic Properties Described in the Aromatherapy Literature
From The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy3:
- Antiseptic, Astringent, Circulatory Stimulant, Diuretic, Expectorant, Fungicidal, Sedative, Aphrodisiac
From The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy1:
- Encourages lymphatic drainage and may be used for the treatment of cellulite
- Recommended for improving oily skin
- Fortifying and strengthening and considered a stimulant of the body’s Qi
- May be used to improve concentration, for general lethargy, and nervous debility
- Atlas Cedarwood is “warming, harmonizing, and thought to be life giving”
Atlas Cedarwood in Research
Atlas Cedarwood oil has been found to have many therapeutic effects, including pain relief4, sedative5, antibacterial6, potential as a natural mouthwash7, and as a treatment for alopecia8.
Summary of Research Studies:
- Mice recovering from surgery that inhaled Atlas Cedarwood oil showed significant reduction in hypersensitive pain behavior.4 A follow-up study found that this pain-relieving activity of cedar may be linked to the endocannabinoid system – the same system that interacts with CBD.5
- Study in rats suggests that inhalation of Cedarwood oil may be beneficial to treat sleep disorders. Rats that inhaled the oil showed decreased motor activity and stayed asleep longer once they were asleep. This study also showed that the therapeutic effects of cedar oil go above and beyond the olfactory system – these effects were seen even in animals that could not smell.6
- Cedarwood oil was found to have antimicrobial activity against multiple bacterial strains.7
- Cedarwood, as well as cinnamon and lemongrass oil, was found to be effective against oral bacteria that cause tooth decay.8
- Cedarwood oil in combination with thyme, rosemary, and lavender, showed significant improvement against hair loss (in patients diagnosed with alopecia areata) when applied to the scalp daily over a 7-month period.9
Generally a non-toxic, non-sensitizing non-irritant, Cedarwood essential oil should, however, be avoided during pregnancy.
1 Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. International Centre of Holysitc Aromatherapy, 2003.
2 Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: the Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism. Element, 1999.
3 Wildwood, Christine. Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy. Healing Arts Press, 2000.
4 Martins, Daniel F., et al. “Inhalation of Cedrus Atlantica Essential Oil Alleviates Pain Behavior through Activation of Descending Pain Modulation Pathways in a Mouse Model of Postoperative Pain.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 175, 2015, pp. 30–38., doi:10.1016/j.jep.2015.08.048.
5 Emer, Aline Armiliato, et al. “The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in the Antihyperalgesic Effect of Cedrus Atlantica Essential Oil Inhalation in a Mouse Model of Postoperative Pain.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 210, 2018, pp. 477–484., doi:10.1016/j.jep.2017.09.011.
6 Kagawa, Daiji., et al. “The Sedative Effects and Mechanism of Action of Cedrol Inhalation with Behavioral Pharmacological Evaluation.” Planta Medica, vol. 69, no. 7, 2003, pp. 637–641., doi:10.1055/s-2003-41114.
7 Zrira, S., and M. Ghanmi. “Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activity of the Essential of Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood Oil).” Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants, vol. 19, no. 5, 2016, pp. 1267–1272., doi:10.1080/0972060x.2015.1137499.
8 Chaudhari, Lalit Kumar D. “Antimicrobial Activity of Commercially Available Essential Oils Against Streptococcus Mutans.” The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 2012, pp. 71–74., doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10024-1098.
9 Hay, Isabelle C., et al. “Randomized Trial of Aromatherapy. Randomized Trial of Aromatherapy. Successful Treatment for Alopecia Areata.” Archives of Dermatology, vol. 134, no. 11, Nov. 1998, pp. 1349–1352., doi:10.1001/archderm.134.11.1349.