Sunday, February 12, 2012

Essential oils: Cedarwood essential oils - an overview & cedarwood Atlas

What's in a name? When it comes to cedarwood essential oil, just about everything! You might be getting cedarwood atlas (Cedrus atlantica), cedarwood Texas (Juniperus ashei), cedarwood Virginia (Juniperus virginiana), or cedarwood Chinese (Juniperus chinesis or Cupressus funebris, but I'm not going to be talking about this plant beyond this point!).

Cedarwood atlas is from the family Pinaceae, which makes it more like a pine tree, whereas the Virginia and Texas trees are from the Cupressaceae or cedar group of trees. Some of their qualities overlap - for instance, they all contain cedrol, but cedarwood Atlas has a lot of atlantone (about 20%), which we don't see in the two other cedarwoods. I'm going to keep the listings about the essential oils very separate, unless we're talking about the components like cedrol!

Don't worry - every supplier I've checked thus far makes it really clear which one you're getting, so it's not like you'll pay for one and get another! 

It is reported to be antiseptic, antiseborrheic (anti-oil), astringent, expectorant, fungicidal, mucolytic, and sedative. It is also reported to be molluscicidal, meaning it will kill molluscs (like slugs and snails). (1)  It is made by steam distillation of sawdust and stumps of cedarwood Atlas trees. (Some essential oil is hydro-distilled, and we see an increase in the amount of atlantone - 12.1% vs. 22% - and a
decrease in the amount of himachalene (click here for more information). It also contains caryophyllene, but I wasn't able to find out exactly how much. (References 1 & 2).

It is recommended that you avoid using cedarwood Atlas during pregnancy, but I can't find any reasons as to why this is suggested. It's recommended for use for oily hair and skin, and I know I like to use it in equal parts with lemon or lime, thyme, and rosemary for my oily hair shampoo and conditioners! (Click here for the hair care section of the blog! I use it at 1% to 2% in my products!)

I can't find out much about atlantone, himachalene, and caryophyllene in any of my references - and I have quite a few references! I did find out a bit about caryophyllene - look for that tomorrow - but that's about it. So this is pretty much where my information about cedarwood Atlas ends for now. Sorry!

(1) Leung's Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients
(2) The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (1992) by Julia Lawless

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting! I've been reading an article on the sedative effects of cedrol on mice, do you know what the % cedrol is for the main species of cedarwood (eg. Atlas and Virginia )
Thanks !