An introduction to cypress essential oil and how it is used in the practice of aromatherapy. By Sharon Falsetto.
Cypress essential oil is extracted from the ancient cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) tree and has been used medicinally for centuries. There are many varieties of cypress trees and, in fact, I am surrounded by the Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) tree here on my property in Arizona. Its links to healing is held in folklore and perhaps that’s why I feel “protected” by my trees here. Here’s a quick introduction to cypress essential oil.
Cypress in Folklore and in Death
Folklore legend tells that the cypress tree gained its name from the Greek Cyparissus; Cyparissus could not be consoled after killing a favorite stag in an accident. He asked the Greek God Apollo if he could be allowed to grieve forever and legend tells that Apollo turned Cyparissus into a cypress tree, a place where others could grieve. Today, there are many cypress trees found in European graveyards; it is also thought that the fragrance released by cypress trees helps to comfort the bereaved.
Cypress for Traditional Healing
Many ancient people used cypress for its medicinal value. In traditional Chinese Medicine, the cypress is used for purifying and cleansing. The ancient Greeks used cypress leaves and cones to treat internal bleeding and wounds. In the ancient Egyptian world, cypress wood was used to make coffins, as it was believed that cypress wood would not rot over time.
Botanical Profile of the Cypress Tree
The cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens) belongs to the ancient Cupressaceae plant family. It is a tall, evergreen tree which is shaped like a cone and it releases a highly fragrant aroma. It also produces small flowers and round gray-brown nuts. Cypress essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the twigs and needles of the tree.
Cypress essential oil has a fresh, warm and woody aroma, similar to that of pine.
The cypress tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and it is found growing wild in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, the UK and North Africa. However, you will many varieties of the cypress tree worldwide.
Use of Cypress Essential Oil in Aromatherapy
Cypress essential oil has many properties including astringent, antiseptic, tonic, deodorant, insect repellent and antispasmodic. Cypress essential oil can be used in the treatment of stress, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, nervous conditions, bronchitis, asthma, poor circulation, fatigue, oily skin, grief and anger. It is also helpful to use in times of transition and change such as in death, the end of a relationship or an old way of life or moving to a new house.
Cautions for Using Cypress Essential Oil in Aromatherapy
Cypress essential oil is generally considered to be non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. However, as is the advice when using any essential oil, cautions should be taken if unfamiliar with the use of essential oils and the effects of essential oils. Some individuals may present conditions which may be contra-indicated in the use of a particular essential oil.
- Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy, US: Skyhorse Publishing
- Harding, Jennie 2005 Aromatherapy Massage for You UK: Duncan Baird Publishers
- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
To access an aromatherapy blend using cypress essential oil for healing in grief, anger, change and transition, subscribe to Georgie’s Secret Garden Club! Note that this recipe is only available for a limited time until the next update is sent out to members!
About the Author:
The author of this article has a combined 24-year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist®. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden and summer studios in Sedona, Arizona, where she gardens and distills plants from her own aromatic gardens, surrounded by natural fauna and flora on an original pioneer homestead property.