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Cedarwood

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CEDARWOOD  juniperus virginiana

Aroma & Colour

Dry, woody aroma, almost sweet, mild and pleasant.  It is slightly balsamic and very reminiscent of the wood.  A pale yellow color, which on rectification, gives a water-white oil.  The oil is clear and relatively viscid. 

Blends

Sandalwood, Rose, Juniper, Vetiver, Patchouli, Benzoin and Cypress.

Safety data

Externally is it fairly non-toxic, but can cause local irritation and sensitization in some people. Only used diluted and in moderation. It should be avoided during pregnancy because it is a powerful abortifacient.

Uses - Physical/Pschological

  • Ideal for soothing, harmonizing and focusing the mind.
  • Antiseptic and astringent properties are beneficial to oily skin.  It helps acne, aids in clearing scabs and pus, and chronic conditions such as dermatitis and psoriasis. It is a good hair tonic and can be effective against dandruff, alopecia and seborrhoea.  Skin softening properties can be enhanced when mixed with Frankincense and Cypress. 
  • Abortifacient
  • Antiseborrheoic (helps control the production of sebum)
  • Antiseptic (Pulmonary - genito - urinary) - reduces problems with the genito-urinary tract, particularly where there is burning pain.
  • Antispasmodic
  • Diuretic - a tonic effect on the kidneys.
  • Insecticide
  • Emmenagogue (promotes menstruation)
  • Expectorant - may help ease bronchitis, coughs and catarrh.  Excess phlegm is curbed through its drying effect.
  • Sedative (nervous) - Nervous tension and anxious states benefit greatly by its soothing and calming action. 
  • Stimulant (Circulatory)
  • It can be effective for arthritis and rheumatism.  

Extraction & Components

Steam distillation of the wood shaving and sawdust. Oil yields vary from 2.5% to 5%, with an average of 3.5%.

Cedarine 26.6%, Thujopsene 18.9%, other Sesquiterpene Hydrocarbons 13.3%, Cedrol 31.6% and Widdol 4.8%.

Background

Many fragrant or sweet-smelling woods are known as cedar.  But, there are only 4 species of the true cedars.  They are stately evergreen trees, whose branches grow in flat tiers or layers with clusters of needle-like leaves. They belong to the coniferous family and are very slow growing, eventually reaching a height of up to 33 meters and a possible trunk diameter of 1.5 meters.

The heartwood is reddish in color and is referred to as Red Cedar and is closely related to the yellow cedar (Thuja Occidentalis), from which thuja oil is obtained. Thuja oil is however not used in aromatherapy due to its high content of thujone, which makes it very toxic.

Cedarwood oil was possibly the first essential oil to be extracted from a plant and was used by the Egyptians in the mummification process, they also valued it highly as an ingredient for cosmetics and impregnated papyrus leaves with it to protect them from insects. They used the wood to make jewelry, furniture and ships.   Cedarwood so highly valued that the Lebanon area (which produced Cedrus Libani) was incorporated into the Egyptian Empire in order to ensure a regular supply.

The North American Indians used cedarwood for respiratory infections, in particular catarrh. The leaves, bark, twigs and fruit all played a crucial part in treating a variety of ailments including menstrual delay, rheumatism, arthritis, skin rashes, kidney disease and more. It is a very powerful insect and vermin repellent and is used against mosquitoes, moths, woodworm, and rats.  It has also been used with citronella as a commercial insecticide.

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