Cedarwood Essential Oil: 14 Uses for Skin, Hair & More - Dr. Axe

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14 Cedarwood Essential Oil Uses for Wisdom, Beauty & More


Updated: June 22, 2018

Cedarwood essential oil - Dr. Axe

Who knew that the oil from a tree could be so beneficial to your health and wellness? Surprisingly, cedarwood essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antifungal, tonic, astringent, diuretic, sedative and insecticidal properties. (1It’s no wonder why cedars are so often mentioned in the Bible, symbolizing a source of protection, wisdom and abundance. (2)

These impressive characteristics of cedarwood oil make it useful for such a wide range of common health concerns including skin problems, hair loss, infections, stress and much more. According to the EPA, this essential oil can even help to naturally repel moths and pests from your home while discouraging the growth of mildew! (3)

What Is Cedarwood Essential Oil?

Cedarwood essential oil is extracted from the wood pieces of a cedar tree. There are four species of cedar trees, which are all considered to be timber evergreen conifers belonging to the plant genus known as Cedrus. (4)

A popular type of cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana) comes from the Eastern red cedar, also called pencil cedar. The major components of cedarwood essential oil are alpha-cedrene, beta-cedrene, cedrol, sesquiterpenes, thujopsene and widdrol — all of which contribute a great deal to its amazing health benefits. (5)

What is the essential oil cedarwood used for? What are the benefits of cedarwood oil? You’re about to find out!


Top 14 Cedarwood Essential Oil Benefits & Uses

Some of the most common ways to use and benefit from cedarwood essential oil include:

  • improve skin conditions like eczema
  • promote hair growth
  • soothe dry scalp
  • has natural antiseptic properties
  • arthritis relief
  • natural deodorizer
  • natural sedative
  • natural diuretic
  • improve focus and ADHD
  • cough relief
  • bug repellent
  • stress relief
  • fight fungal infections
  • helps acne

Clearly, cedarwood essential oil is a great tool for your medicine cabinet. Now, let me elaborate on each of these uses and potential benefits just mentioned.

1. Eczema 

 Eczema is a common skin disorder that causes dry, red, itchy skin that can blister or crack. Some users find that cedarwood essential oil reduces the unpleasant inflammation and dryness that comes with eczema. There are a few ways to include cedarwood essential oil in your daily routine by adding the oil to your skin lotion or soap, rubbing it on the infected or itchy area along with a carrier oil, or make yourself a bath with five drops of cedarwood oil added to it.

2. Hair loss 

What does cedarwood oil do for your hair? Cedarwood essential oil seems to stimulate the hair follicles and increase circulation to the scalp. This contributes to hair growth and may slow hair loss. Herbalists and aromatherapists often recommend cedarwood essential oil for hair loss, thinning hair and various types of alopecia

What are the best oils to mix for hair growth? There’s evidence that applying cedarwood oil, in combination with the essential oils from thyme, rosemary and lavender, to the scalp improves hair growth in up to 44 percent of people with hair loss after seven months of treatment. (6) To take advantage of this possible benefit, you can add cedarwood oil to your shampoo or conditioner, or just massage the oil into your scalp with a carrier oil like coconut oil and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing.

3. Dry scalp 

Cedarwood essential oil is often used to improve a dry or flaky scalp. This tree-derived oil can stimulate the scalp and increases circulation. (7) To take advantage of this cedarwood essential oil benefit, mix two drops of it with coconut oil to create a mixture with antifungal and moisturizing properties. Add the mixture to your scalp, and rub it in for five minutes. For the best results, let it sit on your scalp for 30 minutes or so — then wash it out.

4. Antiseptic properties 

Cedarwood definitely makes the list of essential oils used in dermatology due to its many beneficial effects on the skin, including its antiseptic ability. (8) As a natural antiseptic, cedarwood oil can prevent the development and growth of harmful microorganisms that can negatively affect skin health. (9Since cedarwood essential oil has antiseptic properties it can used with a carrier oil topically to disinfect wounds. Simply mix cedarwood essential oil with coconut oil and then you can apply the mixture to cuts and scrapes to prevent infection.

5. Helps arthritis 

Inflammation of the joints and tissues, which are common symptoms of arthritis, can lead to debilitating pain or discomfort. Cedarwood oil is considered one of the best essential oils for arthritis because it has a inherent anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, topical pain relievers for joint and muscle pain are known to include cedar essential oil for its therapeutic benefits. (10)

By using it externally on the skin, you can reduce inflammation, which can then minimize joint stiffness and discomfort. You can topically apply cedarwood oil with a carrier oil to areas of concern or you can try making yourself a bath with five to 10 drops of cedarwood essential oil. 

6. Natural deodorizer 

Cedarwood essential oil is comforting, reassuring and also possesses a pleasant wood-like scent. It adds a warm tone to any blend of perfumes or oil mixtures. Plus, when it’s used around the home, it acts as a natural deodorizer to freshen the air. Diffusing cedarwood oil or adding it to a natural essential oil room/body spray can have long-lasting therapeutic effects for you and your home.

7. Sedative and calming effects  

Aromatherapy is the act of using essential oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being. Research demonstrates that you may want to reach for the cedarwood oil if you’re looking to calm down and relax.

A study conducted with animal subjects found that cedarwood oil has “marked sedative effects.” (11) This is why you may want to use cedarwood essential oil for sleep troubles. Try diffusing the oil before bed to take advantage of its sedative effects.


Facts about cedarwood essential oil - Dr. Axe

8. Serves as a diuretic 

Cedarwood essential oil’s active compounds, including cedrol, beta-cedrene and thujopsene, are known to have natural diuretic abilities. (12) This means that cedarwood oil may be able to increase the frequency of urination helping the body to remove toxins and excess water from the body. 

9. Improves Focus and ADHD  

A study performed by Dr. Terry Friedmann M.D. and Dennis Eggett from Brigham Young University found that using cedarwood oil on children could greatly improve their focus and learning capacity. Thirty-four children with ADHD were given one of three essential oils (cedarwood, vetiver or lavender) to inhale or nothing at all.


Children held up a bottle of essential oil to their nostrils and took three deep inhalations threes times a day for thirty days. At the end of the study, there were 30 subjects who retook an EEG and T.O.V.A. test. The researchers found that both the vetiver and cedarwood oil groups experienced improvements in brain activity and reduced the ADHD symptoms. (13)

10. Cough relief 

Since cedarwood essential oil has antispasmodic ability, it may help to relieve a cough. (14) If you have a cough, you may want to try using cedarwood essential oil before you go to sleep at night.

Rub two drops of oil mixed with a carrier oil onto your chest and throat and rub it in for a minute. You can also add the mixture to your upper lip to help with breathing if you’re stuffy. 

11. Bug repellent 

Cedarwood essential oil is known to drive away pests, especially ants, ticks and fleas. You can dilute the oil in water to spray on your skin as a natural bug spray to keep them away outdoors, or use a diffuser to keep them out of the house or apartment. You can also spray diluted cedarwood essential oil on your furniture to keep pests away.

One study measured the effectiveness of cedarwood oil and its active component cedrol towards ants and ticks. The study found that the essential oil acted as a strong repellent to fire ants while the black-legged tick nymphs experienced dosage-dependent death when exposed to cedrol. Additionally, when the cedrol was used at the highest dosage (6.3 mg/ml), the cedrol killed off 100 percent of the ticks. (15)

Do you have a problem with moths eating your clothes? Forget those stinky moth balls, use cedarwood essential oil to keep them away. The oil of red cedar is known to kill off clothes moth larvae. (16) Add cedarwood essential oil to cotton balls and place them in your closet, on your hangers and inside of storage boxes.

12. Relieves tension 

Because cedarwood essential oil is a sedative, it has the power to relieve tension and stress that can negatively affect your health. It has a soothing and calming effect on the mind, reduces inflammation and muscle pain, and minimizes skin irritation. Research published in 2017 demonstrates that the scent of cedarwood essential oil ,which contains cedrol, can promote sleep by increasing parasympathetic activity and increasing serotonin production. (17)

One interesting study measured the sedative properties of cedarwood oil. The study included rats that inhaled cedrol, a component of cedarwood oil. Motor activity in the rats decreased significantly; the rats that were given caffeine and categorized as hyperactive also showed a decrease in activity. Sleeping rates in the rats increased as well. (18)

These aromatherapy properties of cedarwood essential oil can really help people struggling with chronic stress and tension. All you have to do is inhale cedarwood essential oil directly from the bottle or you can also diffuse a few drops of oil. 

13. Kills fungal infections 

Cedarwood essential oil can help to protect you from fungal pathogens and food poisoning. One study done at the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology in India found that cedarwood essential oil is a viable alternative to other antibacterial agents and is “an effective module used in the control of both bacteria and yeasts responsible for oral infections.” (19)

The study also reveals that cinnamon oil, lemongrass oil, clove oil and eucalyptus oil have the same antifungal properties.  

14. Helps treat acne 

As a natural antiseptic, cedarwood essential oil is sometimes used as a home remedy for acne, an extremely common and chronic skin complaint.

A case report published in 2016 in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine discusses how dermatologists are turning to alternative natural treatments like essential oils more and more these days. This case report shows how the addition of cedarwood oil to an acne patient’s skin routine was “helpful in controlling acne.” (20

To improve acne naturally, try adding one drop of cedarwood essential oil to your lotion or face wash each day/night.

Research, Unique Compounds and Studies

An interesting experiment focused on the ability to create fragrances for perfumes out of renewable energy resources, like cedarwood oil. Scientists found that cedarwood oil mixed with turpentine oil is very suitable for the synthesis of woody and amber notes. If used for commercial perfumes, more people can take advantage of cedarwood oil’s amazing health benefits. (21) You can also try making your own Homemade Men’s Cologne, which includes drops of cedarwood essential oil.

An animal study published in 2018 focuses on some of cedarwood oil’s active components  cedrol, alpha-cedrene, beta-cedrene, and thujopsene. Overall, the researchers observed that cedarwood essential in its entirety and its active constituent cedrol are most likely to have anti-anxiety effects. (22)

Another interesting factor is that cedarwood essential oils are sometimes made from waste wood chips — which means that people benefit from recycled and repurposed wood. How neat is that?

Cedarwood Oil Side Effects

Cedarwood essential oil should only be used externally. Although some essential oils can be added to food or ingested orally in minimal amounts, it’s not safe to consume cedarwood essential oil internally. If consumed internally, cedarwood essential oil side effects can include vomiting, nausea, thirst and extensive damage to the digestive system

Women who are pregnant should not use cedarwood essential oil. Talk to your doctor before using this oil if you are nursing, if you have a medical condition or are currently taking medication.

If used in high concentrations, cedarwood essential oil can cause skin irritation. Always dilute cedarwood oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil before using it on the skin and avoid the eyes, mucous membranes and sensitive areas. Like all essential oils, keep cedarwood out of the reach of children and pets.

Final Thoughts on Cedarwood Essential Oil

  • Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana) comes from the Eastern red cedar and is known to have active components beneficial to health such as cedrol.
  • Cedarwood oil is extremely strong and should not be used internally.
  • Always look for a cedarwood essential oil that is of the highest quality, which means it’s a 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade essential oil that was made using CO2 extraction methods.
  • The top health uses and benefits of cedarwood essential oil include its ability to:
    • improve inflammatory skin conditions like eczema
    • promote hair growth
    • soothe dry scalp
    • has natural antiseptic properties
    • arthritis relief
    • natural deodorizer
    • natural sedative
    • natural diuretic
    • improve focus and ADHD
    • cough relief
    • bug repellent including moths and ants
    • stress relief
    • fight fungal infections
    • improve acne

Read Next: Cinnamon Oil: 10 Proven Uses & Benefits

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