The Atlas cedar tree, or Cedrus atlantica, has a notable history, as it was closely related to the biblical cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus Libani),1 which was mentioned in the Old Testament.2 It was also believed to have played an important role in the construction of King Solomon’s temple, which was said to be made from the wood of these trees.3

As the name implies, Atlas cedar trees are native to North Africa, particularly in the Atlas mountains of Algeria. However, the majority of the essential oil comes from Morocco, and is taken from wood chips and sawdust that come from furniture making.4,5 Ancient Egyptians used the oil in their process of spiritual embalming, more commonly known as mummification.6

Atlas cedar essential oil is described as having an intense warm, woody and mildly camphoraceous odor.7 It has a yellow or orange-yellow — almost amber — hue.8

Uses of Atlas Cedar Oil

Atlas cedar oil is a popular ingredient in fragrance and personal care products, such as deodorants and scented soaps.9 It also works great when used as an insect repellent,10 particularly against mosquitoes, mites and moths.11 It contains antibacterial properties,12 and may help eliminate oiliness, making it an ideal ingredient in facial washes and shampoos.13 Atlas cedar oil also has astringent and antiseptic properties that make it helpful in easing skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis.14

Composition of Atlas Cedar Oil

Almost 70 percent of Atlas cedar oil is made up of sesquiterpenes a-, b- and y-himalchenes. This oil also boasts of other components like a- and y-atlantone isomers, which make up 10 to 15 percent of the oil. These compounds are known for the sweet, woody odor that they impart to the essential oil.15

Benefits of Atlas Cedar Oil

Atlas cedar oil possesses multiple benefits for the entire body, from medicinal to skin care advantages. It plays a key role in the menstrual cycle of women as it provides emmenagogue properties16 that help stimulate blood flow and regulate menstruation.17 Additional benefits include providing positive effects on your respiratory system, such as helping relieve nasal and lung congestion.18 It serves as an expectorant, helping to remove mucus from the lungs and respiratory tract.19

It may also have a gentle and soothing effect on sore muscles and joints when applied topically. One animal study noted its potential against alleviating the severity of arthritis symptoms.20 Atlas cedar oil’s antiseptic properties may help protect wounds from infections.21

Being a diuretic is another beneficial property of Atlas cedar oil. According to Organic Facts, it helps eliminate fats, excess water and toxins like uric acid from the body by increasing the frequency of urination. These toxins are known to cause obesity, hypertension, urinary tract infection and accumulation of toxins in the blood.22 Atlas cedar oil may also have emotional and mind-calming benefits, mainly because of its sweet and woody fragrance.23

How to Make Atlas Cedar Oil

Atlas cedar oil is extracted from wood chips or shavings from the bark of the tree, ideally from the heartwood, and then processed through steam or hydro distillation.24 Another type of cedarwood oil, Himalayan cedar oil (Cedrus deodara), is made from the stumps, roots and sawdust of the tree, also through steam distillation.25

How Does Atlas Cedar Oil Work?

There are several ways to maximize the use of Atlas cedar oil. It works great when used in tandem with other essential oils. Check out these recommended methods from “Llewellyn’s Complete Formulary of Magical Oils:”26

To ease tension, anxiety and insomnia, soak in a bath with three drops of Atlas cedar oil and three drops each of ylang-ylang and rosemary oils for 15 to 20 minutes. This will help promote calmness and deep sleep.

Make a massage oil by blending six drops of Atlas cedar oil, two drops each of lemon and geranium oils, and 1 ounce of sweet almond carrier oil, and then massage it onto affected areas, such as the neck and shoulders.

Ease respiratory congestion by blending seven drops of Atlas cedar oil with three drops of lavender oil, two drops of juniper oil and 1 ounce of olive or sweet almond oil, then apply onto the chest and upper body.

Atlas cedar oil also helps tighten pores and even out your skin tone. Add two to four drops of this essential oil to every 1 tablespoon of your favorite lotion.

It can be used as an insect repellent by applying three to five drops in an aromatherapy lamp or in a spray bottle with water for misting.

Atlas cedar oil is a known aphrodisiac. To create or enhance romance and sensuality, place five to 10 drops in aromatherapy lamp in the bedroom.

To help relax and relieve sore, tight muscles, add four to six drops in a bath water and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. The cooling effect of the oil will help lessen the pain.

Is Atlas Cedar Oil Safe?

There’s not sufficient research to confirm that it’s safe to take Atlas cedar oil internally, so only use topically, unless approved by a health care expert.27 Always dilute it with a carrier oil before application. It’s best to conduct a skin patch test to determine if you are allergic to it. Since Atlas cedar oil stimulates uterine contractions and menstruation, I advise avoiding its use during pregnancy.28

Side Effects of Atlas Cedar Oil

Atlas cedar oil may cause skin irritation when used in high concentrations.29 There’s insufficient evidence about its potential interaction with drugs, dietary supplements and other herbs,30 so consult with your physician before using this essential oil, especially if you’re dealing with a health condition.


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