Latin name: Cupressus sempervirens
Common names: Mediterranean cypress, Italian cypress
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine walking through a forest of conifers with the sun peaking through the branches. You take a deep breath and inhale the sweet, earthy scent of the trees. What you are inhaling is essential oils being released from the trees around you.
The trees are truly alive. Their presence is easily overlooked, and yet they continuously bless those around them with clean air and a subtle bathing of healing essential oils.
The term “forest bathing” came from Japan in the 1980s. It is considered a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere (1).” The initial purpose of forest bathing was to encourage locals to value and protect their country’s forests and to take respite from modern technology while spending time in nature.
We now know that part of why nature is so healing is that we are quite literally being bathed by the vapors of essential oils being released by the plants around us. When we inhale those oils they get deep into our lungs, into our bloodstream, and are then transported to the rest of our body.
Below we will discuss some of the many benefits of an essential oil from one of the most beloved conifers: cypress.
BOTANICAL & HISTORICAL INFORMATION
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is a member of the cupressaceae family. Mediterranean cypress has a long horticultural history in the Mediterranean region while other varieties can be found in Libya, southern Greece, Turkey, Cypress, Syria, Lebanon, Australia, and Iran.
The cypress is an evergreen tree that grows up to 30 m tall. It features grayish, brown bark that is lined with shallow fissures. Depending on the variety, its branches will grow either vertically or horizontally. Cypress trees produce small, rounded seed cones that are yellowish-gray in color when they are ripe.
Cupressus sempervirens is found in woodlands, interior valleys, and costal mountains at elevations of 500-2000 meters. It has a well-developed root system and the ability to flourish in both acidic and alkaline soils. The tree thrives in regions with dry, hot summers balanced with winter rain. It is commonly found along roadsides, in gardens, parks, and cemeteries.
The cypress has long been used as an ornamental and timber tree, as a windbreak, and in medicine and perfumery. It is considered to be a medicinal tree since it produces an essential oil that has the ability to fight infections, support the respiratory system, remove toxins from the body, and work as stimulate to relieve feelings of nervousness and anxiety.
Historically, it was widely used as incense in ancient Greece and Egypt. Tibet still uses cypress as an incense used for purification.
THERAPEUTIC BENEFITS OF CYPRESS ESSENTIAL OIL
Cypress is well known for its ability to support the respiratory system during the cold and the flu. When inhaled, cypress can help to open up the airways, expectorate mucus, and calm a spasmodic cough. Applied topically, cypress can encourage lymph circulation to help remove toxins from the body.
Cypress essential oil is traditionally used to relieve pain and inflammation due to its natural anti-inflammatory abilities. This may be due in part to its ability as an antioxidant to scavenge nitric oxide, which is a toxic radical, and contributes to edema and pain. It is an excellent oil to add to blends for inflammation and arthritis.
Its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties also make cypress ideal for use with painful menses. Cypress may reduce excess menstrual bleeding, soothe pain and discomfort, and may even reduce hot flashes during menopause.
When applied topically, cypress essential oil can balance oil production on the skin, reduce the appearance of bruising and cellulite, as well as support wound healing. Cypress is commonly added to natural deodorants as an antipersperant due to its ability to reduce sweating.
Musculoskeletal system: analgesic, antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory
Respiratory system: antitussive, antispasmodic, decongestant, expectorant
Integumentory system: antiperspirant, antiseborrheic, anti-sudorific, astringent, deodorant, vulnerary
Lymphatic system: decongestant
Cardiovascular system: vasoconstrictive
Nervous system (emotions): restorative, calming, tonic
Genitourinary system: diuretic
General uses: antimicrobial, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiseptic
Cypress has woody, resinous, and balsamic notes that provide tenacity and depth to a blend. The monoterpenes α-pinene, δ-3-carene, and even the small percentage of the sesquiterpenol cedrol play a big part in the overall aroma of the oil. It blends well with other coniferous and woody oils, herbal oils, and floral oils.
Aroma description: Piney, woody, refreshing
Blending Factor: 5
Note: Mid note
Blends well with: Lemon, geranium, rose, saro, clary sage, sweet marjoram, niaouli, cedarwood, helichrysum, black spruce, rosemary, rosalina, bergamot, juniper berry, lavender, black pepper
A study published in 2007 sought to determine the effects of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat on post-menopausal women and the effect it had on their body image.
The study was of Quasi-experimental design. All participants received a 1 hour massage every week for 6 weeks with most receiving either a 3% dilution of grapefruit oil or cypress oil. The control group was massaged with grapeseed oil.
Results concluded that, “Abdominal subcutaneous fat and waist circumference in the experimental group significantly decreased after aromatherapy massage compared to the control group. Body image in the experimental group was significantly better after aromatherapy massage than in the control group (3).”
IN VITRO STUDIES
An in vitro study published in 2013 studied the effects of cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) essential oil combined with lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil and their combined effect on candida albicans, which is a fungus that commonly causes gut issues.
The combination of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil with Cupressus sempervirens essential oil proved to be an effective combination against Candida albicans (4).
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) essential oil has been shown to act as expectorant, antipyretic, diaphoretic, and diuretic (urine enhancer). With topical use it has been used effectively to soothe coughing and irritated airways associated with bronchitis. It may also be helpful with hemorrhoids and protect against foot sweating (5).
Cypress essential oil is considered safe for use with kids. It is also safe for use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Since the essential oil is high in monoterpenes, it is important to store it in a tinted glass bottle either in a refrigerator or in a cold room away from heat and sunlight.
Oxidized essential oils should never be used in any formulations designed for topical applications. Oxidized oils are still considered safe for use in cleaning and disinfecting.
When stored correctly, the average shelf life for monoterpene-rich essential oils is 1-3 years.
Menstrual Massage oil
8 drops lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
6 drops cypress essential oil (Cupressus sempervirens)
4 drops clary sage essential oil (Salvia sclarea)
1 oz. jojoba oil
Blend all ingredients in a tinted glass jar. Massage onto abdomen and lower back daily for three days before your menses and continue 1-3 times a day during menstruation.
7 drops cypress cypress essential oil (Cupressus sempervirens)
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
3 drops tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Aroma inhaler + a fresh cotton wick
Place the cotton wick in a glass or stainless steal bowl. Pour the essential oils over the wick. Roll the wick around with tweezers until it has fully absorbed the oil. Place the wick in the aroma inhaler and cap it. Use as needed to open up the sinuses, calm irritated airways, or soothe a cough.
10 drops cypress essential oil (Cupressus sempervirens)
8 drops helichrysum essential oil (Helichrysum italicum)
6 drops Roman chamomile essential oil (Chamaemelum nobile)
5 drops peppermint essential oil (Mentha × piperita)
2 oz. unscented lotion
2 oz. tinted glass jar
Pour the unscented lotion and essential oils in a tinted glass jar. Stir until completely blended (this may take several minutes of stirring). Massage a small amount into skin wherever there is inflammation, swelling, or discomfort.
All Natural Deodorant
20 drops cypress cypress essential oil (Cupressus sempervirens)
12 drops black spruce essential oil (Picea mariana)
8 drops juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis)
1 oz beeswax pellets
3 oz jojoba oil
Four 1 oz deodorant tubes
Melt beeswax using a double broiler method. Add jojoba oil & stir until blended. remove from heat & add oils, continuing to stir. Pour the mixture into four 1 oz deodorant tubes and allow to solidify. Apply to underarms daily & as needed.
- Fitzgerald, S. (2021, May 3). Forest bathing: What it is and where to do it. Travel. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/forest-bathing-nature-walk-health
- Khan, M., Ahamad, T., & Rawat, P. (2017). Biomedicinal and chemical profile of cupressus sempervirens: A mini review. Insights in Biomedicine, 02(03). https://doi.org/10.21767/2572-5610.10032
- Kim H. J. (2007). Taehan Kanho Hakhoe chi, 37(4), 603–612. https://doi.org/10.4040/jkan.2007.37.4.603
- de Rapper, S., Kamatou, G., Viljoen, A., van Vuuren, S. (2013). The In vitro antimicrobial activity of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil in combination with other aroma-therapeutic oils. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. doi: [10.1155/2013/852049] Retrieved on July 10, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666441/
- Aazza, S., Lyoussi, B., Miguel, M.G. (2011). Antioxidant and antiacetylcholinesterase activities of some commercial essential oils and their major compounds. Molecules, 16(9), 7672-7690. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules16097672