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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Cedar wood was an ancient oil that was used by the both the Egyptians and the Greeks; it is still used in aromatherapy today.

Use Of  Atlas Cedarwood in History

The ancient Egyptians used cedarwood oil to embalm, for perfumery and in cosmetics; the ancient Greeks also used cedarwood oil to preserve bodies as they believed it helped to make one immortal.  It is thought that the Lebanon cedar tree may have been the original cedarwood tree that was used as cedarwood oil in ancient times.  Its fragrance was useful as an insect, ant and moth repellent; it was also used greatly as a source for building materials.

In the Far East, cedarwood oil was used as a preservative too, in addition as a remedy for treating urinary tract and bronchial infections; cedarwood was also used as an incense.  The Tibetans used cedarwood in traditional medicine and as an incense in temples and is still used today.
Description of the Atlas Cedarwood Tree

The Atlas cedarwood tree belongs to the Abietaceae plant family; it gains its name from the Atlas mountains of Algeria, where it originates from.  The Atlas cedarwood tree is an evergreen tree that grows up to 131 feet in height; it is shaped like a pyramid, has oval cones and gray-green needles.  Cedarwood essential oil is extracted and distilled from the aromatic wood of the tree and is is produced in Morocco and Lebanon.

Types of Cedarwood Oils for Aromatherapy

There are several types of cedarwood oils that commonly use the name “cedarwood.”  However, true cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) essential oil is extracted from the Atlas cedarwood tree. Texas (Juniperus ashei) or Virginian (Juniperus virginiana) Cedarwood are also are commonly sold in the United States, under the general term cedarwood.   To add to the confusion, there are also several other trees which yield “cedarwood” oil.

Use of Cedarwood Oil for Aromatherapy

Cedarwood essential oil is antiseptic, astringent, anti-bacterial, a stimulant to the skin and circulatory system, sedative and an aphrodisiac.  In aromatherapy, it is useful in the treatment of eczema, dry skin, dandruff, fluid retention, nervous tension, arthritis, rheumatism, cystitis and asthma. 

Other Uses of Cedarwood

Cedarwood is commonly found in men's fragrances and aftershaves, where it is used for its antiseptic and astringent properties;  it is also used in cosmetics, soaps, perfumes and detergents.  Cedarwood is frequently used in mediation and is capable of balancing the mind and relieving anxiety; it has strong spiritual connections.

Cautions for Using Cedarwood Essential Oil

Cedarwood essential oil should not be used in pregnancy or with young children, due to its toxicity; in France, cedarwood essential oil use is restricted, due to its abortive and neuro toxic abilities.  Do not confuse Atlas cedarwood essential oil with Texas or Virginian cedarwood as the oils are chemically different.  Used with care, cedarwood oil can be of great use.  Seek further professional advice if unfamiliar in the use of essential oils.


– Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
– Price, Len, Price, Shirley 2002  Aromatherapy for Health Professionals UK: Churchill Livingstone

This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Cedarwood Essential Oil

It is expressively prohibited to copy or use this article in any way unless written permission is given by the author Sharon Falsetto.  If it is discovered that copyright laws have not been complied with, legal action will be pursued by the author Sharon Falsetto.

CopyrightSharonFalsetto2010 All Rights Reserved
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