Cypress essential oil benefits are profound for healing, but the first thing many notice is the amazing fragrance.
The Mediterranean is well known for its distinctive and aromatic flora and is famous for the longevity and good health of its inhabitants. No doubt this is thanks to its long history of using healing plants in traditional medicine, such as the coniferous Cupressus sempervirens – the cypress tree.
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History & Chemical Components
Cypress essential oil is steam distilled from the needles of the cypress tree Cupressus sempervirens. The oil is also referred to as Mediterranean or Italian cypress, named for the region where it is commonly found.
Not to be confused with blue cypress, or Callitris intratropica, which comes from the same family but is a very different plant cultivated in Australia. Each oil has unique constituents as well as distinctive properties and aroma.
This article will focus on Mediterranean cypress.
The major constituents of include: (2)
Today, more commonly used commercially in fragrances and shampoos, the cypress tree is mentioned in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah, but some versions of the Bible claim that this is wood that Noah used to build the ark. While that is debatable, there is no argument that the leaves and cones of this plant have been used in folk medicine around the world for centuries. It has a reputation as an antiseptic, an astringent, for hemorrhoid and diarrhea relief, combat parasites, to relieve pain, and more. (1)
9 Benefits Of Cypress Essential Oil
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of anecdotal evidence out there in the blogosphere that cypress oil is great for the bladder and urinary track system – many parents swear by the fact that it has helped their children with enuresis (bedwetting). As a researcher, though, it’s important for me to note that there is no research to validate this in a clinical setting.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible!We need to take all evidence into consideration (especially case studies – aka “anecdotal evidence”) when determining how essential oils can help us reach our health goals.
With that said, cypress essential oil does not have an extensive body of research behind it, and most of the following research has been done in vitro (cells in a petri dish) or animals. So, let’s uncover what we see in the literature as of today…
1. Protects Your Liver
In 2007, researchers in Egypt isolated the compounds in cypress leaves and tested them on rat livers. (3) They discovered that these compounds protected the rats’ livers, thanks to their antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are compounds that help stave off the damage done by free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress. This is linked to disease and unhealthy aging.
While more studies need to be done in this area, these compounds make cypress essential oil useful to support your liver and beneficial as a general antioxidant.
Application: Add 2-3 drops of cypress essential oil to 1 ounce of your favorite carrier oil in a roller bottle and rub over your abdomen once a day for up to 4 weeks.
2. Antioxidant That May Protect Your Brain
As noted above, cypress oil is a proven antioxidant, but this is not the only research that shows its capabilities in helping your body fight free radicals and oxidative stress. (4) In 2015, scientists discovered that cypress oil is high in flavonoids, including quercetin, key components of beneficial antioxidants! (5)
Cypress oil can also act as what is called a “BChE inhibitor,” which prevents the breakdown of a critical neurotransmitter in the brain and may help prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The data is uneven about how potent cypress oil is in this area but it certainly is a beneficial source of compounds that promote good health!
3. Antibacterial Biofilm Cleaner
Cypress oil has been shown to have a “significant” antimicrobial effect on several strains of bacteria, including E. coli. (5) This is in agreement with several studies.
Cypress oil has other advantages as well. Biofilm are a group of microorganisms that are “stuck” to surfaces. Harmful bacteria in biofilm can be difficult to clear without the right cleansing agent but research shows that cypress oil can effectively clean it. (6)
It’s important to note that as a cleaner, cypress oil works best on “gram-positive” bacteria or the type of bacteria that succumbs to antibiotics. It’s also been shown to be an effective anti-fungal, conquering even Candida albicans, when combined with lavender oil. Using this to disinfect your home is a great way to help you avoid antibiotics!
Application: Add a few drops of cypress and lavender essential oils to your kitchen cleaning solutions.
4. Powerful Antiviral to Heal Cold Sores
Cypress essential oil was part of a study out of Iraq that tried out various plant extracts and essential oils from the cypress family, as well as others, in treating Herpes Simplex-1. (7) These natural compounds were compared to acyclovir, a drug used to treat this type of viral infection. All the oils were found to be just as effective as acyclovir but cypress essential oil had the best results.
Note that these were lab studies tested on the virus under a microscope, however, cypress oil’s antiviral capabilities can be useful!
Application: Add 2 drops of cypress oil to our Soothing Lip Balm recipe. Use if you have a cold sore. Be sure not to share your lip balm!
5. Wound Healing
Traditionally, cypress essential oil has been used to heal wounds. This may be due to the claim that it can constrict blood vessels, meaning it has the potential to help blood clot quickly when used on bleeding injuries. (8)
Cypress oil has also been used by commercial companies to make soaps. (9) Along with its antimicrobial abilities, this oil is an ideal choice for cuts and scrapes.
Application: Add one to two drops of cypress oil to your healing salve recipes.
6. Fight Skin Diseases
Cypress essential oil has been used in dermatology to address acne, blocked pores, bromodosis, cellulite, cellulitis, deodorant, hyperhidrosis, oily conditions, rashes, and rosacea. (10) It is commonly used as a treatment for acne and frequently found in homemade face cleansing solutions.
Application: Make a DIY toner by diluting 6 drops of cypress and 6 drops of lavender in half an ounce of 190 proof alcohol. Then slowly adding half an ounce of witch hazel and 1 ounce of distilled water. Spritz on skin. Store in a cold place and discard after 1 month.
7. Safer Herbicide
Do you love gardening but dislike the options you have for defending your plants against weeds and pests? Many of these options contain harmful ingredients that can be toxic for your health, especially if you are growing your own food.
Well, look no further than cypress essential oil. Studies show it is effective as both an herbicide and fungicide and as well as an insecticide. (11, 12) Learn more about growing your own food with our new class, Organic Gardening Made Easy With Mama Z!
Application: Add 2-3 drops of cypress essential oil to our Homemade Weed Killer recipe.
8. Respiratory Aid
While there is little peer-reviewed research in this area, cypress oil has been traditionally used in aromatherapy in the treatment of colds, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, inflammation of the back of the throat (pharyngitis), and sinusitis. 13 Of course, more evidence is needed but we think it’s a wise choice to add to your diffuser when you’re sick!
We recommend you diffuse a small amount first if you have asthma or respiratory allergies to ensure it does not adversely affect you.
Application: Diffuse 2 drops each of orange, mandarin, and cypress essential oils when struggling with colds, coughs, and other minor respiratory issues.
9. Varicose Veins
While there is no hard data to support this claim, cypress oil is commonly and traditionally used to treat varicose veins. This may be due to its ability to constrict veins. We think this is a safe choice when properly diluted to use as a skin cream on your legs.
Application: Create a 2% dilution (12 drops per 1 ounce of oil) with your favorite carrier oil and massage into your legs.
Cypress Essential Oil and Safety
Use these common-sense safety tips when using cypress essential oil, especially when trying it for the first time:
- Cypress essential oil is generally safe to consume and with proper dilution you should be safe when using this oil. Because it may constrict blood vessels, avoid ingesting if you have a bleeding disorder.
- Store in dark glass to avoid oxidation.
- Some sources claim that cypress oil should be avoided during pregnancy but there is no research supporting this statement. However, you might want to avoid it while pregnant or breastfeeding to be cautious.
- Cypress oil can interact with respiratory issues as either an aide or an irritant. Use with caution if you have asthma or allergies.
- Avoid cypress oil that has oxidized because it can pose a greater risk of skin sensitization. You’ll know it has oxidized if the smell or color changes or it has expired.
- At present, there is no clinically safe level of dosage for children, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot give it to them. You should start off small with “culinary doses,” that is, no more than 1 drop per dish.
- Cypress essential oil is safe to use in your diffuser and topical applications if you keep it to 1% or less for children.
- Don’t consume straight out of the bottle, and don’t drink with water (remember oil and water do not mix).
- You can consume safely by adding 2-3 drops of cypress essential oil into a veggie gel capsule and fill it with olive oil. Consume with food.
- Do not stay on cypress oil for an extended length of time. Ideally, you should rotate your oils every few weeks.
- Stop using it immediately if you experience any side effects.
- Use with caution if you take medications. Check with your healthcare provider first.
Cypress essential oil has a thin, clear consistency and an earthy aroma. It blends well with other woody or resin-based oils, such as frankincense or myrrh, florals such as lavender or geranium, and with the citrus family of oils.
This wonder from the Mediterranean is a great, affordable addition to your healing oil medicine cabinet. Wound care, liver protection, and acne are just a few of the reasons you should have cypress essential oil on hand today!