Cedrus atlantica, the Atlas Cedarwood, Creative Commons

My mother had a cedarwood closet in her old house and as a child I can remember all the coats having a faint cedar smell when they first came out at the beginning of winter. Using cedarwood as a natural insect repellent has recently caught on as the latest marketing trend. You can find cedar coathangers, drawer liners, little wooden cedar balls, shoe deodorizers— all sorts of gimmicks to keep moths at bay, ants away and unpleasant odors down. But cedarwood also has many therapeutic properties that bring balance and health to the body.

Cedrus atlantica, the Atlas Cedarwood is the species most used in distilling essential oils. Found primarily in Morocco, this majestic tree was used in ancient times for embalming purposes as well as for cosmetic and perfumes as it has wonderful preservative qualities.

Cedarwood is an expectorant, calming respiratory complaints and alleviating bronchial problems. It relieves coughs and when used in a steam inhalation set-up can reduce congestion and break up catarrh. In a bath, cedarwood can chase out colds and flu by warming the body and increasing fluid flow through the eliminatory system. Cedar also supports the urinary tract by cleansing the kidneys and bladder and reducing cystitis irritation. Because it has the ability to rid the body of excess fluids cedarwood should not be used in pregnancy as it could naturally abort a young fetus.

In skin care cedarwood essential oils is often added in the treatment of acne, eczema, dermatitis and oily clogged pores. Good for greasy hair and dandrufl it is also found in many shampoos and hair tonics. Considered a fungicide, this oil can also help with athlete’s foot and other skin rashes where there may be infection underneath.

On a psycho-spiritual level, cedarwood works to release fears and nervous tension. If you follow the theory of macrocosms and microcosms, cedar being an insect repellent in the mundane world could translate to being a good oil to burn when needing to rid one’s aura of psychic attachments and astral bugs. If you feel too open to the negative forces of the fourth dimension then cedarwood can set up a barrier to keep unwanted energies out. It is very spiritually cleansing and can be protective and supportive during ‘dark night of the soul’ quests. It calms anger and aggression and stabilizes the emotions. Bringing harmony and balance to the psyche, this supreme oil promotes spirituality and connectedness to the Universe. No wonder it was so highly treasured in Egyptian times and is still used as incense in many Eastern temples as a sign of purity and cleanliness.