15 Uses and Benefits of Cedarwood Oil

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Cedarwood Oil comes in three forms. Cedarwood Atlas, Cedarwood Texas and Cedarwood Virginiana. It’s important to choose the right oil to treat particular conditions.

Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica) comes from the cedar tree native to the Atlas mountains and this tree is believed to be related to the famous cedars of Lebanon.

The essential oil from Cedarwood Atlas was used by the ancient Egyptians in their embalming procedures, and for cosmetics and perfumery. The essential oil was also an ingredient in the renowned poison antidote – mithridat. This antidote was successfully used for centuries.

The timber obtained from these trees was prized for its strength and its ability to repel moths and other insects, an ability which the essential oil also holds.

In the East, Cedarwood oil was traditionally used for bronchial and urinary tract infections. The essential oil was used as a preservative and as an incense for religious purposes.

The actions of Cedrus atlantica are:

  • Antiseptic – kills germs
  • Antiputrescent – prevents decay
  • Antiseborrheic – helps to control the production of sebum
  • Aphrodisiac – increases sexual desire.
  • Astringent – dries and contracts tissue.
  • Diuretic – increases production of urine.
  • Expectorant – loosens mucus in the respiratory system.
  • Fungicidal – kills fungus
  • Mucolytic – breaks down mucus
  • Sedative (nervous) – reduces functional activity, calming.
  • Stimulant (circulatory) – quickens physiological functions.
  • Tonic – strengthen the body

The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation and is a yellow to deep amber color with a warm top note and a woody balsamic undertone. It blends well with bergamot, cypress, jasmine, juniper, neroli, clary sage, vetiver, rosemary and ylang ylang.

Cedarwood Atlas essential oil is known to help with acne, dandruff, dermatitis, eczema, fungal infections, oily skin, ulcers, arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis, catarrh, congestion, coughs, cystitis, nervous tension and other stress related conditions.

Cedarwood Texas (Juniperus ashei) is a tree native to the south western USA, Mexico and Central America.

The essential oil was used by Native Americans for skin rashes, arthritis and rheumatism. The actions of Juniperus ashei are:

  • Antiseptic – kills germs.
  • Antispasmodic – prevents and eases spasms and convulsions.
  • Astringent – dries and contracts tissue.
  • Diuretic – increases production of urine.
  • Expectorant – loosens mucus in the respiratory system.
  • Sedative (nervous) – reduces functional activity, calming.
  • Stimulant (circulatory) – quickens physiological functions.

Cedarwood Texas is felled especially for its essential oil which is steam distilled from the heart wood and wood shavings. The oil is a pale yellow with a sweet balsamic woody aroma. It blends well with patchouli, spruce, vetiver and pine.

This essential oil shares it’s aromatherapy uses with Cedarwood Virginiana.

Cedarwood Virginia (Juniperus virginiana) comes from the Red Cedar which is native to North America especially the mountainous regions east of the Rocky Mountains.

Native Americans used the essential oil for respiratory infections, rheumatism, arthritis, skin rashes, to induce menstrual flow, to treat venereal warts and to cure kidney infections. The essential oil was also used as an insect repellant. The actions of Juniperus virginiana are:

  • Abortifacient – induces abortion.
  • Antiseborrheic – helps to control the production of sebum.
  • Antiseptic – kills germs.
  • Antispasmodic – prevents and eases spasms and convulsions.
  • Astringent – dries and contracts tissue.
  • Diuretic – increases production of urine.
  • Emmenagogue  – stimulates menstrual flow.
  • Expectorant – loosens mucus in the respiratory system.
  • Insecticide – kills insects.
  • Sedative (nervous) – reduces functional activity, calming.
  • Stimulant (circulatory) – quickens physiological functions.

Cedarwood Virginia essential oil is steam distilled and is a pale yellow with a sweet woody scent. It blends well with sandalwood, rose, juniper, cypress, vetiver, patchouli and benzoin.

This form of Cedarwood essential oil must not be used if you are pregnant. It can induce a miscarriage.

The oil is known to be helpful for acne, dandruff, eczema, oily skin and hair, psoriasis, arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis, catarrh, congestion, cough, sinusitis, cystitis, nervous tension and stress related conditions.

1. Eczema


All three types of cedarwood essential oil are beneficial for treating eczema. Eczema is a skin disorder that causes a breakdown in the structure of the skin leading to dry, red, itchy skin that is prone to blistering and cracking. Because the protective skin barrier is compromised with eczema, the skin is open to infection by bacteria and fungus.

Cedarwood essential oil helps to prevent infection and as an Antiseborrheic, can slow down the proliferation of skin cells.

Cedarwood can be added to your regular skin lotion, mixed into a carrier oil and smoothed over affected skin, or diluted with a little oil and added to your bathwater.

2. Dandruff

Again, all 3 types of cedarwood can be used here. Cedarwood essential oil, removes excess oil, reduces sebum production, slows down the overproduction of skin cells resulting in fewer flakes, and attacks the fungus that feeds on the skin and the oil.

Cedarwood also improves circulation which helps your body deliver its own infection fighting white blood cells to the area.

Add a couple of drops of cedarwood essential to a normal amount of shampoo, or add 5 drops to a tablespoon a coconut oil or other carrier oil and massage the oil into your scalp. Allow the oil to sit for 30 minutes so that the cedarwood can penetrate your hair follicles, then wash as normal.

3. Eases Arthritis

While one of the traditional uses of cedarwood essential oil has been as a treatment for arthritis, modern research has only just begun to investigate cedarwood for this condition. Animal studies have shown that topical application of cedarwood does have the ability to reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis and decrease joint stiffness.

Cedarwood essential oil should never be used undiluted on the skin. Mix 10 drops of the essential oil with one ounce of carrier oil – coconut, jojoba, olive etc, and rub into the painful joints.

Five to ten drops of the oil can also be diluted with a little carrier oil and added to your bathwater.

4. Use As An Antiseptic

Cedarwood essential oil can be safely applied to wounds as an antiseptic. An antiseptic wash can be made by adding a few drops of the essential oil to a small bowl of boiled, cooled water. Use a cotton ball to apply the wash after all traces of dirt and debris have been flushed from the wound with clean water.

The wash can be reapplied as needed to prevent infection and to clear any fluid or pus seeping from the wound.

When applying essential oils to a wound they shouldn’t be mixed with carrier oils. Wounds need oxygen to heal and carrier oils prevent optimum oxygen from reaching the wound.

5. Treats Oily Hair

Cedarwood can regulate oil production and prevent hair from becoming greasy and lank.

Add a few drops of cedarwood oil to your shampoo each time that you wash your hair. The improvement won’t be apparent right away, but with regular use you should see a decrease in the amount of oil in your hair.

6. Relieves spasmodic conditions

Cedarwood is an antispasmodic. It can help to relieve conditions where nerve impulses are causing spasms and constrictions. Its antispasmodic action can help restless leg syndrome, asthma, chronic dry cough and intestinal spasms in irritable bowel syndrome.

Cedarwood can be inhaled via a hot steam for respiratory problems and applied topically after dilution with a carrier oil for other issues.

To prepare a steam, boil a pan of water and pour it into a ceramic or metal bowl. Plastic bowls can absorb the aroma and flavor of oils and transfer that to anything else that is subsequently placed in the bowl, so unless you are only going to put non food items into the bowl, avoid plastic bowls.

Add 5 drops of cedarwood essential oil to the hot water. Drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl with your eyes closed. Don’t lean down too far because the steam will burn your skin. Inhale the steam slowly until the water cools and the steam runs out.

7. Natural Deodorizer

Cedarwood essential oil possesses a pleasant woody balsamic aroma. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties mean that it can prevent odor on your skin. Sweat doesn’t actually smell. The bacteria and fungi that feast on sweat, produce the odor. By preventing those microbes from proliferating on your skin you can stay odor free without the use of commercial deodorants that contain aluminum.

Simply mix a few drops of cedarwood essential oil with a small amount of a non greasy oil like jojoba oil, rice bran oil or argan oil and smooth onto your skin.

This isn’t an antiperspirant so it won’t stop you sweating.

Cedarwood also makes a great smelling cologne.


  • 5 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 3 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 2 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 300 milliliters vodka
  • Spray bottle

Mix all ingredients together and store in the bottle.

8. Tones Skin

Cedarwoods astringent properties can remove oils from skin and tighten pores. Make a skin toner by adding 20 drops of cedarwood essential oil and one teaspoon of vodka to 4 oz of distilled or filtered water.

Wipe over cleansed skin to remove all traces of cleanser and tighten skin twice a day.

9. Acts As A Diuretic

A diuretic increase the frequency of urination which is useful when you have an accumulation of fluid before your period. Diuretics also facilitate the removal of toxins from your system. To use a diuretic to remove help to flush toxins you must also drink plenty of water and ensure that you maintain a good balance of electrolytes. One way to ensure this is to drink coconut water which has all of the electrolytes that you need.

Mix 5 drops of cedarwood essential oil with a little carrier oil and massage your bladder and kidney area. The oil will be absorbed through your skin and help to gently stimulate urine production.

10. Improve Focus and Lessen Symptoms of ADHD

A study performed by researchers from Brigham Young University found that cedarwood essential oil could improve the focus and learning capabilities of children with ADHD.

Thirty four children with ADHD were given different essential oils including vetiver, cedarwood, lavender and an essential oil blend.

Children took three deep inhalations from their assigned bottle 3 times a day for thirty days. At the end of the study the children were evaluated and both vetiver and cedarwood oil were found to effect significant changes. For cedarwood the tests showed that the oil inhalation improved focus by 65%.

11. Cough Relief

Cedarwood essential oil can relieve coughs and clear mucous from the respiratory tract.

The essential oil can be inhaled via a steam, added to a hot bath or rubbed onto the chest, the back and the throat with a carrier oil.

Using cedarwood in an essential oil aromatherapy diffuser can also be beneficial especially overnight. A diffuser creates a fine mist of water and essential oil to fill your room with a therapeutic aroma. Choose an ultrasonic diffuser so that the therapeutic properties of your essential oils aren’t degraded by the prolonged heat used by other methods.

12. Bug Repellant

Cedar Is a time honored wood used to build closets that keep clothes protected from moths. Cedarwood essential oil can offer your clothes the same protection if you sprinkle a few drops onto a cotton handkerchief or cotton balls and hang the cloth in your closet. Refresh the cloth with fresh oil each week.

In addition to protecting your clothes, cedarwood essential oil can keep bugs away from your skin. Mix a few drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil to repel mosquitoes, flies and other bugs. You can add the essential oil to an oil burner, diffuser or candle, to fill the air around you with the cedarwood aroma and keep insects out of your house.

Mix cedarwood oil with some water in a spray bottle and spray door thresholds and window ledges with the mixture to keep ants out of the house

Cedarwood has been tested on the pulse beetle and the common housefly and has demonstrated insecticidal activity against both species.

As an effective repellant for the housefly, cedarwood is a safe alternative to commercial bug sprays and their noxious toxins.

13. Stress Relief

Stress Relief

Because cedarwood essential oil is a sedative, it can relieve tension and stress. It has a relaxing and calming effect on the mind. Inhaling cedarwood essential oil stimulates the release of serotonin which combats stress hormones. Cedarwood also induces restful sleep when your mind is racing with anxiety and won’t switch off.

Cedarwoods calming effects have been demonstrated in rats. Rats were given caffeine to induce hyperactivity and then given cedrol which is a component of cedar oil to inhale. Motor activity was significantly reduced in the rats and their sleep rates increased.

You can inhale cedarwood essential oil directly from the bottle, or for a restful night’s sleep you can add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser and fill your room with the calming properties of the oil.

Cedarwood also makes a pleasant massage oil, either alone or blended with other powerful stress relieving essential oils like neroli, ylang ylang, jasmine and clary sage.

Use 30 drops of a combination of the oils in one ounce of carrier oil and massage all over the body.

14. Kills Fungal Infections – Cedarwood Atlas

Cedarwood can treat athlete’s foot, jock itch and intertrigo, which are all caused by fungus.

The essential oil should be diluted with a non greasy carrier oil like jojoba, rice bran oil or argan oil. All of these oils are completely absorbed by the skin without leaving a residue behind on the skin. If you use an oil that leaves a film on the skin, even though you have an antifungal agent in the cedarwood oil, you are providing a food source for the microbes that aren’t killed right away which allows them to multiply.

Wash the affected area and dry thoroughly. Then apply 5 drops of cedarwood essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. Smooth into the skin gently and leave the skin exposed to the air for as long as you can before dressing.

To speed up the treatment, you can remove the moist environment that the fungus need to survive. Tuck clean swatches of cotton between toes to absorb moisture. For jock itch or intertrigo in skin folds, use folded tissue, cotton handkerchiefs or squares cut from an old cotton t-shirt. Replace the absorbent material throughout the day. By taking away the moisture and using an anti fungal you will clear up a fungal infection in no time at all.

If you are prone to fungal infections, you can use a dilution of cedarwood essential oil to wash your skin each day to prevent fungus building up to a level where it becomes a problem.

15. Treats Acne

Cedarwood is an antibacterial which will combat the bacteria that grow out of control in blocked pores. It also has the ability to reduce the amount of sebum that is produced and stop the fast turnover of skin cells that clump with the oil and block pores.

Add 5 drops of cedarwood essential oil to one teaspoon of jojoba oil and massage into cleansed  skin before bed.

Use a skin toner made with 20 drops of cedarwood essential oil and one teaspoon of vodka mixed in 4 oz of distilled or filtered water, to refresh skin throughout the day with more anti acne protection.

All acne treatments work better when skin isn’t hampered by makeup and cedarwood is no exception. Try to leave your skin bare as often as you can while you are treating acne.  

Safety Warning

Some essential oils are suitable for internal use under the guidance of a professional. Cedarwood essential oil is not one of them. This oil can cause nausea and vomiting, excessive thirst and internal damage.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.