Cedar Aromatherapy


You can find cedar used for everything from furniture to firewood. Its use extends into other areas such as aromatherapy. Cedar trees are tall evergreen trees native to the Atlas mountains in Algeria. The highly aromatic wood from the Atlas cedar, with the botanical name Cedrus atlantica, has many closely related woods that are not as appropriate for use in aromatherapy. Try to avoid using Texas or Virginia cedar.


Cedar is one of the oldest essential oils. Aromatherapist Julie Lawless writes in her book “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils” that ceder essential oil was extracted by ancient Egyptians who used the oil in perfumes, cosmetics and even as an embalming fluid. Cedar was also used as an incense, a use that continues today.

Characteristics and Components

Aromatherapists use cedar essential oil produced by steam-distilling the wood, stumps and even the sawdust of the Atlas cedar tree. The oil’s color ranges from yellow to orange and even dark amber. A fairly thick oil, it gives off a woody and warm aroma with even a hint of sweetness to it. Lawless notes that the primary chemical constituents include atlantone, caryophyllene and cedrol.


Essential cedar oil has a number of properties useful in aromatherapy treatments. Patricia Davis, aromatherapist and author of “Aromatherapy: An A-Z,” explains that cedar oil works as an antiseptic. Other infection fighting properties include also being an antifungal, notes Lawless. Lawless also identifies cedar as a mild sedative. A 2003 study conducted by faculty members at Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University and published in the journal “Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic & Clinical” found that cedrol, one of cedar oil’s main components, did produce a relaxing effect on the body.


Aromatherapists suggest using cedar to help treat certain infectious conditions. Jeanne Rose, author of “375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols,” says that cedar’s antiseptic action works well for helping improve respiratory infections. It also breaks down mucus so you can clear it out of your respiratory system more easily. Davis uses cedar oil to help treat acne as its antiseptic ability helps clear bacteria while it also helps dry the skin because it is a mild astringent, too. Lawless says that its relaxing effects make it appropriate for use to help relieve stress and tension.


Atlas cedar has few side effects when used properly. Lawless identifies it as non-toxic and non-irritating. However, you must not use cedar oil at all during pregnancy as it can cause complications. If you are unsure of the type of cedar oil you have you should not use it as other varieties have additional side effects and contraindications. You should always consult a physician or certified aromatherapist before using cedar or any other essential oils to make sure they are safe and appropriate for your condition.

About this Author

Aaron Jacobsen specializes in writing about health, fitness and mental performance topics for various websites. He holds a master’s degree in kinesiology and is a former faculty member at San Jose University.