A Guide To Cedarwood Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses

A Guide To Cedarwood Essential Oil with photos of Atlas and Virginian cedarwood

"Headiness is the message of the spirit of cedarwood. It is the spirit of integrity, of stability, of solidarity in all things," writes aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy For the Soul. She also writes that the emotional benefits of cedarwood essential oil (Cedrus atlantica) are to encourage strength, focus, balance, fortitude, persistence, confidence, protectiveness, and concentration.

Cedarwood comes in several varieties. They include Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica); Virginian cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana); Texas cedarwood (Juniperus ashei); and Himalayan cedar (Cedrus libani).

The two most common essential oils are Atlas cedarwood and Virginian cedarwood. They have similar properties, although the Virginian variety is a milder oil. This profile covers both oils.

Basic Cedarwood Facts

Plant family:
Pinaceae (Atlas cedarwood, also called Atlantic cedar and Moroccan cedar);
Cupressaceae (Virginian cedarwood, also called red cedar and Eastern red cedar)

Production: Steam distilled from wood chips and shavings

Aroma: Warm, woody, balsamic, sweet

Perfume/Aromatic note: Base

Is cedarwood safe to use during pregnancy? Most sources say no.

Is cedarwood essential oil safe for children? Yes.

Main components:

Atlas cedarwood

beta-himachalene     30.8-40.4%
alpha-himachalene    10.3-16.4%
(E)-alpha-atlantone   5.2-13.4%

Virginian cedarwood

alpha-cedrene   21.1-38.0%
thujopsene        21.3-23.4%
cedrol               12.3-22.2%

Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition

Benefits Of Cedarwood Essential Oil

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Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: This essential oil is an astringent for oily hair and skin conditions, acne, and dandruff and relieves dermatitis, insect bites, and itching. The oil may also help reduce cellulite and encourage hair growth.

The Heart of Aromatherapy: Use Virginian cedarwood for daily skin care, soothing damaged or irritated skin, respiratory support, clearing mucous and congestion, relaxation and soothing the nervous system, repelling insects, and freshening closets and drawers. "Cedarwood is an amazing substitute for many strong respiratory oils, such as eucalyptus and tea tree."

Aromatherapy For Healing the Spirit: In Traditional Chinese Medicine Atlas cedarwood is fortifying and strengthening. It tonifies both the Kidney and Spleen-pancreas and may be useful for general lethargy, nervous debility, lower back pain, and poor concentration. Cedarwood is astringent that helps drain cold dampness.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
: Cedarwood is helpful for relieving congestion, acne, cellulite, anxiety, stress, tension, and physical exhaustion.

The Aromatherapy Bible: Use both cedarwood oils for oily skin and hair, acne, dandruff, urinary tract infections, and coughs. "Overall, Atlas cedarwood is fortifying, calming and opening... Virginian cedarwood is fortifying, warming and protecting."

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: Use both Atlas and Virginian cedarwood for skin care, arthritis, respiratory problems, nervous tension, and stress-related disorders.

Cedarwood Oil Uses


The scent is considered "masculine," so this oil is often used in men's skin and hair care products.

Make a men's cologne:

  • 2 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 3 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 5 drops cedarwood
  • 1 cup 70% alcohol or vodka
  • Glass roll-on tube or glass cologne spray bottle

Blend liquid ingredients and store in the tube or bottle. Source: Dr. Axe

For sinus and respiratory problems: Use the essential oil in a steam inhalation.

Make a relaxing diffuser blend:

  • 2 drops cedarwood
  • 2 drops orange essential oil
  • 1 drop ylang ylang essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil

For a fun diffuser blend that creates an outdoor, woodsy scent:

  • 1 drop cedarwood
  • 2 drops balsam fir essential oil
  • 3 drops frankincense essential oil

You can also diffuse cedarwood for meditation or to help you focus.

Make a moisturizing hair conditioner: Blend 5 or 6 drops cedarwood into 2 to 3 teaspoons coconut oil or argan oil. Massage the blend into your hair. Wait 30 to 60 minutes and then wash your hair as usual.

Make an insect repellent:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 20 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops patchouli essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • One 4-ounce PET plastic spray bottle

Put the water in the spray bottle. Add the essential oils. Shake well to mix.

To use: Shake before using. Spray your skin and clothes every hour. Do not directly spray on face. You can spray your hands and wipe them onto your face, but do not use this blend  on the hands and faces of young children and babies.
Source: Aromahead Essential Living

For a bladder infection: Use cedarwood in a sitz bath to help relieve the pain, according to Aromatherapy for Dummies.

Buy Cedarwood

I recommend cedarwood essential oil from Young Living.

Cedarwood Essential Oil




Photo Credit: Virginian cedarwood By USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons and Atlas cedarwood by David J. Stang [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

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