Cedarwood – ‘I’ll have half a gram’

'No it's half of four hundred and fift... shit'

Cedarwood is the friend you need in a crisis. She is steady and calm, confident and strong. Cedarwood brings balance, strength and comfort.

It is not often I have the urge to yell at my TV and throw it out the window, but I came close during The Apprentice‘s Great Sandalwood Scam. What a shame that none of them knew about cedarwood – a relatively inexpensive and perfect substitute to sandalwood. Sorry Paula, you’re fired.

Atlas cedarwood is often used in aromatherapy as a substitute to sandalwood both because of its similar fragrance and qualities. Some aromatherapists make an ethical choice to use cedarwood instead of sandalwood which, like rosewood, is an endangered species of tree. Neal’s Yard Remedies stopped stocking sandalwood and rosewood while I was training to become an aromatherapist, thus I have rarely used these oils. Our tutor had one bottle left of Neal’s Yard’s sandalwood and she treated it like gold dust. If you do want sandalwood it is best to buy Australian sandalwood which is ethically harvested.

Atlas cedarwood is most commonly used in aromatherapy. The essential oil is primarily known for its anti-inflammatory, balancing and decongestant actions.

Stimulating hair shampoo and conditioner

Atlas cedarwood is reputedly a scalp stimulant and is thought to encourage new growth of hair. I had positive feedback from family and friends for this shampoo and conditioner blend. After three month’s of use, hair starts to look noticeably thicker and fuller. Regular massage of the scalp (encouraged when using aromatherapy shampoo) also stimulates circulation, which helps boost hair growth, and makes hair look shiny and healthy. Cedarwood is also good for treating dandruff.

  • 250ml unfragranced shampoo / conditioner
  • 38 drops cedarwood
  • 40 drops rosemary
  • 40 drops lavender
  • 32 drops thyme linalool

Remember, that’s 38 drops cedarwood, not sandalwood! If you are suffering hair loss over a period of time, do check with your GP for underlying health causes.

Skin regulating oil

Cedarwood is antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory and balancing, which makes it helpful for oily skin and acne. Use the facial massage blend below at night to help regulate your skin’s production of oil and to help skin problems. The aroma of cedarwood is comforting, strengthening, good for low morale and sedative, which will help aid a restful night’s sleep.

  • 30ml jojoba oil (also regulates skin oil)
  • 6 drops cedarwood
  • 6 drops lavender
  • 3 drops cypress
  • 3 drops frankincense

Aches and pains

Cedarwood’s anti-inflammatory action makes it good for treating inflammation of muscles and joints. Add it to blends for rheumatism, arthritis or simply backache. I found this oil a useful part of my repertoire when making blends for male clients – it is important that an aromatherapy treatment is aesthetically pleasing as well as therapeutic. Creating a masculine blend can be challenging but men often prefer woody or spice oils. This subtle blend smells mostly of cedarwood with a touch of roman chamomile, which has an apple-like scent that most men find surprisingly lovely!

  • 30ml sweet almond oil
  • 9 drops cedarwood
  • 6 drops roman chamomile

Antiseptic douche

Cedarwood is also known to be effective for urinary tract infections because of its antiseptic action. If you are prone to cystitis add cedarwood to your bath oil – after your bath has run, swish 1 tbsp olive oil and 6 drops cedarwood oil thoroughly in the water.

Clear your mind

Remembering the origins of cedarwood essential oil – the tall and lofty pine tree – it is unsurprising that one of its effects is to clear your head. If you have a stuffy cold, burn cedarwood to help unblock your nose and ease breathing.

This post is dedicated to Uncle David who is strong and true

Profile of Atlas cedarwood:

Latin nameCedrus atlantica
Plant family: Pinaceae
Plant type: wood
Perfume note: base
Extraction: steam distillation of the wood, stumps and sawdust
Botany and origins: grow wild in Lebanon and Cyprus (thought to originate from Lebanon), C. atlantica is a pine not a cypress like Virginian cedarwood
Chemical properties/active components: the pinaceae family are antiseptic; C. atlantica is also high in sesquiterpene ketones (7–10%) which are anti-inflammatory and decongestive, and sesquiterpene alcohols (7%) which are anti-inflammatory and mucolytic
Blends with: bergamot, clary sage, cypress, frankincense, jasmine, juniper, neroli, rosemary, rosewood, vetiver, ylang ylang
Key actions: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, aphrodisiac, bactericidal, balancing, decongestant, diuretic, expectorant, fungicidal, insecticide, sedative and stimulant
Common conditions: cellulite, oedema, oily skin, acne, balances sebum, dandruff, hair growth (reputedly); bronchitis, coughs, catarrh, congestion; urinary tract infections; arthritis, rheumatism; confidence and low morale
Contraindications: non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitising. Avoid during pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © Dmitri Zakovorotny


4 thoughts on “Cedarwood – ‘I’ll have half a gram’

  1. Hi emma

    Thanks for the info on cedarwood. Much appreciated!

    Do you know if cedarwood and sandalwood are related species. Id love to know.



    • Cedarwood and sandalwood are extracted from different trees, although in aromatherapy you could say that they fall into the same class of ‘woody’ oils. Cedarwood is also a lovely choice of substitute for the more expensive sandalwood, and you don’t need more than a few drops to benefit from its fragrance and properties.

  2. I’m trying to mix up some oils to help my mom who is suffering with shingles. A lot of the recipes call for sandalwood. I do not have sandalwood but have Cedarwood and Idaho Balsam Fir. Can either of these be substituted & if so, are they the same amount? Thanks.

    • Hi Donna, sorry to hear about your mum and just got your comment as I’ve been spending time offline. Sandalwood can be substituted for cedarwood and used in the same amount. Patricia Davis (who I regard as the Ted Hooper of the aromatherapy world) recommends bergamot, eucalyptus and tea tree for easing pain and drying blisters. They are all analgesic and antiviral oils and work best in combination with an equal amount of each. I would dilute in a 1–3% dilution, depending on your mum’s skin sensitivity, and do a patch test first. Or adding to a bath oil might work better. Essential oils are very powerful so no need to over-use, often a subtler blend is best. After blisters disappear, but where pain may persist, lavender and chamomile can be helpful as a massage oil or in the bath, again diluted in a carrier. If your mum has prescribed medication or lotions from the doctor, best to check with him/her first before using aromatherapy to complement her treatment. I hope this helps. Oh, and maybe try burning bergamot essential oil in the room as well. It is a great antidepressant, very uplifting and can help you feel more like fighting an illness.

Say hi! Your comment is appreciated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s