Cypress Leaf Essential Oil
When one thinks of cypress trees, evergreens like the juniper commonly come to mind. The trees can grow 75 feet tall or higher. Since the tree that can live for a thousand years, cypress has long been a symbol of mortality with the medicinal uses of cypress oil spanning a history from ancient times to the present.
History of Cypress
The wood from the cypress tree does not decay easily and because of its resilience was commonly planted in cemeteries, symbolizing life after death. Inhabitants of ancient civilizations believed the fragrance warded off evil spirits and used the wood to build coffins.
While the ancient Chinese chewed cypress cones to stop bleeding gums, the therapeutic use of cypress to treat internal bleeding and heavy menstrual flow dates as far back as 165 AD. Ancient Greeks steeped the cones in wine to treat asthma, coughs, and dysentery. The tree’s medicinal uses crossed continental divides, as the Aztecs in North America made tea from the leaves and bark to treat wounds.
Although the cypress tree is not native to Italy, it has an ancient history there. The Estruscans who inhabited the area before the centuries of Roman rule revered the tree because they thought it had supernatural powers. Native to Southern Europe, particularly the Mediterranean area, cypress trees grow in many different areas of the world. Geologists estimate that the history of cypress trees even in North America dates back thousands of years.
Extracting the Essential Oil
Steam distillation is used to obtain cypress essential oil from the tree’s needles, twigs, and stems. The oil has a green or yellow color. Its aroma is a mix of pungent evergreen and woody fragrances, reminiscent of nature.
The essential oil extracted from cypress has numerous components, which contribute to its medicinal properties. The pinene present in juniper oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Products containing it are applied topically to treat fungal infections of the feet, eczema, and other skin conditions. Studies suggest that the antimicrobial activity of pinene may help fight against C. albicans (a type of yeast infection), certain fungi, and the infectious bacteria MRSA.
Beneficial to skin health, cypress essential oil is used to tighten and strengthen the skin. It’s often an ingredient in lotions and creams intended to vitalize the skin and help improve the appearance of varicose veins. Topical application of cypress essential oil increases circulation when you massage it into the skin after diluting in vegetable oil. Improving the blood flow through the veins in your legs helps to alleviate varicose vein symptoms.
Other Therapeutic Uses
Cypress essential oil is used to improve circulation, respiration, and mood. It is also said to help reduce fluid retention, edema, and excessive bleeding. Many believe the oil has the ability to ease pain and is sometimes used by individuals as an alternative therapy in the treatment of arthritic and rheumatoid conditions. An essential oil diffuser is often the method used in alternative therapies to treat arthritis and bronchitis. Some people also inhale the vapors to reduce cold and flu symptoms.
Individuals often find the piney scent of cypress oil calming. For some, the fragrance helps to boost mood. One study, which combined cypress oil (which is said to reduce anxiety and fatigue), lavender oil, and sweet majoram oil in sweet almond oil, examined the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy massage. The findings suggested that aromatherapy massage using cypress and other essential oils helps reduce anxiety and stress and may be beneficial to the immune system.