Botanical and Common Names
- Family Pinaceae
- Cedrus libani (Lebanon Cedar, Cedar of Lebanon)
- Thuja occidentalis (White Cedar)
- Do not take essential oil internally, except under professional supervision.
Indigenous to the Lebanese mountains, the southwest of Turkey, Cyprus, the Atlas Mountains, and the Himalayas, the cedar tree is also found in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It is a majestic, flat-topped tree, growing to 130 feet, having dark green, needlelike leaves, and oval cones.
Native to North America, the white cedar is a tall tree that usually reaches fifty feet, but some exceptions are known to grow much higher. The tree’s even-grained, aromatic wood is generally resistant to decay and termites.
The Himalayan cedar is native to that region and grows to 280 feet at altitudes of 3,500 to 12,000 feet above sea level.
Cedar oil is the essential oil extracted from the leaves and wood. The essential oil is generally distilled from the Atlas or African cedar native to Morocco (C. atlantica,) as well as from the red cedar, native to North America (Juniperus virginia).
It is said that the cedar was used to build the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Solomon’s Temple.
Since ancient times, the oil has been used in incense, perfumes, and embalming.
Native Americans utilized every part of the cedar tree. They made spears and arrows from the wood, burned the wood for fuel and incense, and used the leaves and branches as insecticides, as well as medicinally for a wide range of diseases. Many tribes, including the Ojibwa and Potawatomi, burned the smoke in purification ceremonies, while the Chippewa burned incense in religious ceremonies.
- volatile oil (mainly 50% cedrene, atlantol, and atlantone [C. atlantica only])
- Leaves, wood, oil
It is strongly disinfectant and used to rid the respiratory tract of invading organisms; and, as an expectorant, it is effective for catarrhal conditions.
In Ayurvedic medicine, cedar leaves are used to treat tuberculosis. A decoction of the heartwood is given for chest infections, insomnia, and diabetes. The essential oil is prescribed for syphilis and leprosy.
The essential oil is a strong medicine; and, when diluted and massaged into the skin, it treats colds, bronchial congestion, and cystitis, as well as wounds and ulcers.
The tips of the leaves can be made into a tea to treat such respiratory conditions as coughs and colds. The cones can relieve colic in babies, and the needles functions as a diuretic. Topically, an infusion of the leaves is effective against skin conditions, including athlete’s foot and ringworm.