From Dr. Mercola:
The cypress tree has long been associated with mortality, grief, and the immortal soul.1 But aside from its melancholic symbolisms, this tree is also well-known for the fragrant and relaxing oil that it produces. Here are more interesting facts about cypress oil.
What Is Cypress Oil?
It’s native to Southern Europe, but has spread to North Africa and North America. It’s also widely cultivated in Spain, France, and Morocco.4 Cypress trees thrive well in wetlands, growing on cypress “knees” or pneumatophores. This tree is a softwood that’s ideal for making vases and other novelty items.5
During the early times, Phoenicians and Cretans used it to build houses and ships, while the Egyptians used it to make sarcophagi for burying their deceased. The Greeks also used cypress wood to carve statues of their gods.6
The botanical name of this plant comes from the Greek word that means “ever living.”7 Cypress trees are often cited in art and literature, and are believed to be an emblem of death. Legend also has it that the cross where Jesus was crucified was made from cypress.8
This is still a well-known symbolism in many countries, such as in Egypt, where they use the wood to create coffins. In the United States and France, cypress trees are often planted in graveyards. The Chinese also revere cypress and associate it with contemplation, as its roots take the form of a seated man when they grow.9
Today, cypress trees are not only valued for lumber, but are also used to produce cypress oil. This greenish or yellowish essential oil has a fresh, herbaceous, and slightly evergreen and woody scent, which is said to be calming and invigorating. It also has many applications.10
Aside from Cupressus sempervirens, other cypress species that are used to produce the essential oils are Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), native only to a coastal strip below Monterey Bay in California; Portuguese cypress (Cupressus lusitanica); and the Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica), native to the Southwestern US mountains and northern Mexico.
However, avoid using Arizona cypress oil for aromatherapy, as it contains a toxic ketone that can attack your mucous membranes.11
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.12
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.13
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