Cypress Leaf oil (Cupressus sempervirens)
Cupressus sempervirens, the Mediterranean cypress (also known as Italian cypress, Tuscan cypress, Persian cypress, or pencil pine), is a species of cypress native to the eastern Mediterranean region, in northeast Libya, southern Albania, southern coastal Croatia (Dalmatia), southern Montenegro, southern Greece, southern Turkey, Cyprus, northern Egypt, western Syria, Lebanon, Malta, Italy, Israel, western Jordan, and also a disjunct population in Iran. C. sempervirens is a medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree to 35 m (115 ft) tall, with a conic crown with level branches and variably loosely hanging branchlets. It is very long-lived, with some trees reported to be over 1,000 years old.
The foliage grows in dense sprays, dark green in color. The leaves are scale-like, 2–5 mm long, and produced on rounded (not flattened) shoots. The seed cones are ovoid or oblong, 25–40 mm long, with 10-14 scales, green at first, maturing brown about 20–24 months after pollination. The male cones are 3–5 mm long, and release pollen in late winter. It is moderately susceptible to cypress canker, caused by the fungus Seiridium cardinale, and can suffer extensive dieback where this disease is common. The species name sempervirens comes from the Latin for ‘evergreen’.
Mediterranean Cypress has been widely cultivated as an ornamental tree for millennia away from its native range, mainly throughout the whole Mediterranean region, and in other areas with similar hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, including California, southwest South Africa and southern Australia. It can also be grown successfully in areas with cooler, moister summers, such as the British Isles, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest (coastal Oregon, Washington and British Columbia). It is also planted in Florida and parts of the coastal southern United States as an ornamental tree. In some areas, particularly the United States, it is known as “Italian” or “Tuscan cypress”.
Cypress Leaf Essential Oil – has a calming, soothing action on the mind. It is also used in perfumes and colognes as a tenacious fragrance component. We have not tried this, but author Scott Cunningham states that a combination of cypress and patchouli essential oils creates an ambergris-like substitute. Another source states that the proportions should be one-part Patchouli to two parts Cypress.
Aromatic Profile: Fresh, woody, resinous, sweet, deep green balsamic aroma with a faint smoky and ambergris-like undertone in the tenacious drydown.
Appearance: Pale yellow to yellow-orange, transparent, mobile liquid.
Blends Well With: Ambrette Seed, Benzoin, Bergamot, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Cistus, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Juniper, Labdanum, Lavender, Lemon, Linden Blossom, Liquidambar (Styrax), Mandarin, Marjoram, Orange, Pine, Rosemary, Sandalwood.
Composition of Cypress Oil: The medicinal and soothing properties of cypress oil come mainly from terpenes like alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, and alpha-terpinene. These organic hydrocarbons are the main building blocks of any plant resin or essential oil, and contribute to their scent, flavor and colors, as well as medicinal effects. Cypress oil also contains carene, camphene, cadinene, sabinene, myrcene, terpinolene, linalool, and bornyl acetate, all of which are essential to cypress oil’s healing effects.
Safety Considerations: Skin sensitization if oxidized. Dilute before using. A patch test should be performed before use for those with sensitive skin.
Therapeutic properties: The therapeutic properties of cypress oil are astringent, antiseptic, antispasmodic, deodorant, diuretic, hemostatic, hepatic, styptic, sudorific, vasoconstrictor, respiratory tonic and sedative.
Benefits of Cypress Oil
Cypress oil’s health benefits are far-reaching, and it has demonstrated properties that are beneficial for your circulatory and respiratory systems. For instance, it can help reduce cellulite and varicose veins, and tighten and reduce pores. Cypress oil can also:
Relieve pain — When massaged over affected body areas, cypress oil can relieve rheumatism, osteoarthritis, and muscle and joint pain. It also helps control spams, relieves period cramps, and may even be used for injury rehabilitation.
Strengthen and tighten your tissues — Cypress oil’s astringent properties cause the tissues in your gums, skin, muscles, and even hair follicles to contract, which aids in strengthening them and holds them in place. This helps prevent them from becoming loose or falling out. The main function associated with astringency is contraction, so cypress oil makes your gums, skin, muscles, and hair follicles contract and prevents teeth and hair from falling out. It also tightens up loose skin and muscles.
Treat wounds — Owing to its camphene content, the oil has antiseptic properties that help treat internal and external wounds. Cypress oil is even used as an ingredient in antiseptic lotions and creams.
Serve as a diuretic — This helps promote good digestion and assists in stopping gas from forming in your intestines. It also potentially reduces swelling, cleans your kidney, and eliminates toxins and excess water from your body. Cypress oil increases urination, both in frequency and in quantity. This is very important and can be very beneficial for health. When you urinate, up to 4% of the volume is actually fats being eliminated by the body. Therefore, the more you urinate, the more fat you lose and subsequently weight. The most important role played by urine is that it removes toxins from the body. In addition to that, it also reduces blood pressure and cleans out the kidneys. Many of the mainstream medicines for lowering blood pressure are based on this benefit of urination.
Constrict your blood vessels — By constricting your veins, it helps stop bleeding, and may also benefit those who suffer from hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It can also be used for alleviating bleeding, perspiration, and irregularly heavy menstrual flow. While hemostatic means an agent that can stop blood flow or promote its clotting, styptic primarily means having the properties of an astringent, while also helping to stop excessive blood flow through contraction of the blood vessels. Both of these properties are very important in their own areas of application.
Promote proper liver function — It maintains adequate bile secretion and helps protect the liver against any kind of infection, which are both essential for optimal liver health.
Aids Toxin Removal – Cypress oil is a diuretic, so it helps the body flush out toxins that exist internally. It also increases sweat and perspiration, which allows the body to quickly remove toxins, excess salt and water. This can be beneficial to all systems in the body, and it prevents acne and other skin conditions that are due to toxic buildup. This also benefits and cleanses the liver, and it helps lower cholesterol levels naturally. A 2007 study conducted at the National Research Center in Cairo, Egypt, found that isolated compounds in cypress essential oil, including cosmosiin, caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid, showed hepatoprotective activity. These isolated compounds significantly decreased glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase, glutamate pyruvate transaminase, cholesterol levels and triglycerides, while they caused a significant increase in the total protein level when given to rats. The chemical extracts were tested on rat liver tissues, and the results indicate that cypress essential oil contains antioxidant compounds that can rid the body of excess toxins and inhibit free radical scavenging.
Relax your nervous system — It has a calming and sedative effect on your mind and body by relieving nervous stress and anxiety. It also stimulates a happy feeling in case of anger or sadness. Cypress oil is also beneficial for people who have suffered a major trauma or shock. To use cypress essential oil as a natural remedy for anxiety and anxiousness, add five drops of oil to a warm-water bath or diffuser. It can be especially helpful to diffuse cypress oil at night, beside your bed, to treat restlessness or symptoms of insomnia.
Cures Spasms – Cypress oil is helpful in curing nearly all types of spasms and the problems associated with it. It efficiently relieves spasms in the respiratory system and intestines as well as muscular spasms in the limbs. It also helps to cure convulsions, muscle pulls, cramps, and spasmodic cholera which can be irritating or dangerous.
Tones Respiratory System – Cypress oil tones up the respiratory system and increases the efficiency of the lungs. It also helps eliminate the cough and phlegm accumulated in the respiratory tracts and lungs. Furthermore, it clears up congestion, thereby making breathing easier when you are suffering from a cough and cold.
Promotes Sweating – A sudorific substance is something which can cause sweating or perspiration. Periodic sweating makes you feel lighter, fitter and helps quickly remove toxins, excess salt, and water. This cleans the skin pores and openings of the sweat and sebum glands while keeping away acne and other skin diseases. Cypress oil is considered a very powerful sudorific substance.
Eliminates Odor – Cypress oil has a spicy and masculine fragrance that can easily replace synthetic deodorants which boast a similar natural and distinct aroma.
Fights Infection – A 2004 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a component present in cypress oil, called camphene, inhibited the growth of nine bacteria and all yeasts studied. This is a safer alternative than antibiotics that can lead to damaging side effects like leaky gut syndrome and loss of probiotics.
Treats Varicose Veins and Cellulite – Because of cypress oil’s ability to stimulate blood flow, it serves as a varicose veins home remedy. Varicose veins, also known as spider veins, occur when pressure is placed on blood vessels or veins — resulting in the pooling of blood and bulging of veins. According to the National Library of Medicine, this can be caused by weak vein walls or a lack of pressure exerted by tissues in the leg that allow the veins to transport blood. This increases the pressure inside of the veins, causing them to stretch and widen. By applying cypress essential oil topically, blood in the legs continues to flow to the heart properly. Cypress oil can also help reduce the appearance of cellulite, which is the appearance of orange peel or cottage cheese skin on the legs, butt, stomach and back of the arms. This is often due to fluid retention, lack of circulation, weak collagen structure and increased body fat. Because cypress oil is a diuretic, it helps the body remove excess water and salt that can lead to fluid retention. It also stimulates circulation by increasing blood flow. Use cypress oil topically to treat varicose veins, cellulite and any other condition that is caused by poor circulation, such as hemorrhoids.
Other Benefits – In addition to stimulating perspiration, it also curbs excessive sweating, heavy menstruation and bleeding. It is anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic, so it can also be used in the treatment of varicose veins, cellulite, asthma, bronchitis, and diarrhea.
Uses of Cypress Oil
The cypress tree was valued by ancient civilizations for its medicinal uses. The Chinese chewed the cones to heal their bleeding gums, while Hippocrates recommended it for treating hemorrhoids. The Greeks loved cypress’s comforting smell, and used it to clear their mind and senses. Today, cypress oil is used for industrial and medicinal practices. Perfume and soap industries often use cypress oil, as its fresh evergreen aroma, with a slightly sweet and balsamic undertone, adds a masculine note to men’s cologne and aftershaves. Medicinally, cypress oil can be used topically, inhaled via vapor therapy, or ingested in small doses. It’s said to help regulate blood flow and alleviate menstrual problems, detoxify and decongest the lymphatic system, reduce water retention, and relax muscles. Cypress oil can also have profound effects on your respiratory and digestive systems, especially during cold winter months. Here are some ways to use cypress oil:
- Inhale or vaporize it through a diffuser to calm and relax your mind. It can also help alleviate breathing disorders, such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.
- Use it as a massage oil to relieve asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, cramps, varicose veins, and heavy menstrual flow. You can also add it to your warm bath.
- Add it to your favorite lotion or cream to help soothe broken skin and varicose veins. It also has astringent effects that can help clarify oily and congested skin.
- If you have a nosebleed, apply a few drops to a cold compress and press against your nose to help stop the bleeding.
- Add it to your foot soak to help deodorize and clean sweaty feet.
How to Use Cypress Essential Oil
It’s safe to use cypress oil aromatically and topically. When applying the oil to the skin, it is best to dilute it with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, before rubbing it into the skin. Here are some ways to use this essential oil in your everyday life:
- Diffuse 5–7 drops of cypress oil in the home or office to create emotional balance, induce calm and energizing effects, and help with feelings of anxiousness or anxiety.
- Apply topically, diluted with equal parts carrier oil, to treat arthritis, restless leg syndrome, cramps, asthma, bronchitis, cough or cold, carpal tunnel, and heavy periods. Simply rub the oil mixture into the effected area; this can be done 2–3 times daily, depending on your needs.
- To reduce the appearance of cellulite, varicose veins, wounds, cuts or incisions, apply 2–3 drops of cypress oil to the area of concern.
- Add 5 drops of cypress essential oil to a warm-water bath to treat respiratory conditions. You can also dilute cypress with a carrier oil and apply the mixture to the chest to work as a vapor rub. To reduce phlegm, add 3–5 drops of cypress oil to boiling water, place a towel over your head and breathe in the steam for 5–10 minutes.
- To deodorize the home, add 5–10 drops of cypress oil to cleaning soap or add the oil to water and spray the mixture on curtains, sheets and couches; 1–2 drops of cypress oil can also be added to shoes, hats and jackets to prevent bacterial growth and body odor.
- For hair and skin care, add 1–3 drops of cypress oil to your shampoo, conditioner or Homemade Face Wash. It is perfect for a deep clean, and it’s beneficial to the skin and hair because of its antimicrobial properties.
- Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, 1992/2013, p. 81.
- Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils, 1992, pp.50-1.
- Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. Essential Oil Safety, 2nd ed., 2014, p. 265.