There are plenty of reasons why cypress essential oil is believed to be one of the most important oils known to man. Like any other essential oil, cypress is largely known for its many health properties that range from respiratory support to sedative to natural detoxifier. This is proof that we don’t necessarily have to rely on expensive synthetic pharmaceutical products to help us in some of our diseases and other health conditions. Mother Nature already has a lot of solutions to many of our everyday problems. And one of these natural remedies for a variety of health concerns is cypress essential oil.
Cypress essential oil is extracted from Mediterranean cypress. Although there are other species of the cypress family, this is the most popular and is known in the scientific community as Cupressus sempervirens L. The bark of this majestic tree that usually lines the tops of hills and cliffs overlooking the vast blue Mediterranean is harvested and then steam distilled to extract the oil. Ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean region consider the cypress as the tree that lives forever and hence, has been largely believed to have magical healing powers.
In the Tibetan Highlands north of China, nomads use the bark for making incense while other cultures use the cone of the cypress tree as the source of essential oil. While there are no studies to show that cone-based cypress essential oil is different from bark-based cypress essential oil, it is largely believed that due to the relatively scarce supply of cypress cones, it is naturally more expensive. Nevertheless, one of the most intriguing aspects of the cypress tree is that it has aroused the curiosity of the scientific community when it was able to show it can resist forest fires. Whether or not this claim will hold water remains to be seen.
Cypress essential oil has a very distinct pale yellow color which, at first glance, is barely noticeable. However, depending on the species of Cupressaceae the essential oil is steam distilled from, it can present in different colors. For example, the blue cypress essential oil is known to produce a deep azure blue hue and is characterized by a mild balsamic scent with a sharp woody aroma.
The health benefits of cypress oil is largely attributed to the different active ingredients that it contains such as pinenes and camphenes as well as other substances. The following are the known health properties of cypress essential oil.
- Antirheumatic – Cypress essential oil can help reduce the inflammation of the joints which is often seen among individuals with arthritis as well as rheumatism.
- Antiseptic – The antimicrobial properties of cypress essential oil can help kill microorganisms on the skin especially on wounds, be it internal or external.
- Antispasmodic – The sedative and muscle relaxing properties of cypress essential oil help in the reduction of muscle spasms.
- Astringent – Tightens the tissues of the different organs that cypress essential oil can get in contact with such as the gums, the muscles, the skin, and the hair follicles. These strengthens the integrity of these body organs.
- Bronchodilator – Helps increase the diameter of the airways to help facilitate easier breathing especially among individuals with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema as well as pneumonia and other respiratory conditions.
- Deodorant – Helps in the management of offensive body odors as it can take the place of commercially available deodorants.
- Diuretic – Stimulates the increased production and elimination of urine from the kidneys to help regulate blood volume as well as help flush out toxins from the body.
- Hemostatic – Helps improve the ability of the blood to form clots which is very helpful in the prevention of hemorrhage or severe bleeding. This also makes it ideal in the management of wounds as it can help minimize blood loss by encouraging the activation of the blood clotting mechanism.
- Hepatic – Helps strengthen the function of the liver through the regulation of bile synthesis and secretion. This can help in the prevention of fatty liver disease and help in the more effective management of cholesterol levels particularly low density lipoproteins.
- Pulmonary tonic – Strengthens the airways as well as the pulmonary tree by improving muco-ciliary clearance and the improved mobilization of pulmonary secretions.
- Sedative – Helps promote relaxation and peaceful sleep. This rests the body including the muscles which is why cypress essential oil is also effective in the management of muscle spasms as well as muscle pull.
- Styptic – Akin to the hemostatic and astringent properties of cypress essential oil, styptic helps prevent the abnormal leakage of blood or serum into the surrounding tissues. This is achieved by contracting the different tissues surrounding the injured site.
- Sudorific – Cypress essential oil is effective in making you sweat which helps in the removal of toxins and other harmful substances from the body. It thus, aids in detoxification efforts.
- Vasoconstrictor – Reduces the diameter of blood vessels to help minimize bleeding. This is particularly important in wound management.
The different health properties of cypress oil can bring the following benefits.
- Helps reduce muscle spasms – One of the most important benefits of cypress essential oil is in the reduction of muscle spasms. Its anti-inflammatory properties combined with its sedative effects make it ideal in the management of muscle cramps, muscle pulls, mild to moderate convulsions, as well as other spasmodic conditions. It has also been shown to be effective in reducing smooth muscle spasms of the airways as can be found in asthma as well as chronic bronchitis. When the smooth muscles of the airways are more relaxed, they allow for the more efficient movement of air in and out of the lungs. And this can help improve overall tissue oxygenation.
- Helps treat wounds – The antimicrobial, hemostatic, styptic, and vasoconstricting properties of cypress essential oil can help in the management of wounds. It helps contract the different tissues surrounding the wound so that bleeding can be effectively controlled. Add to this its ability to foster more efficient blood clotting helps seal off the wound from potential superinfection by highly opportunistic bacteria as well as fungi. This is to make sure the wound will not get infected.
- Provides mental relaxation and restful sleep – One of the active ingredients of cypress essential oil is cedrol which has been shown to be quite effective in inducing rest and sleep as well as in the management of anxiety. This helps individuals to sleep a lot better and achieve a more relaxed mind. Experts agree that its sedative effect can be attributed to the enhancement of the receptors for certain neurotransmitters particularly gamma aminobutyric acid.
- Improves pulmonary efficiency – The bronchodilator effect of cypress essential oil has been widely regarded as one of the main health benefits of this particular oil. This is achieved by the relaxation of the smooth muscles of the bronchial tree including the trachea or the windpipe. When the smooth muscles of these structures undergo relaxation, they are able to expand a lot better allowing more air to move in and out of the lungs. This can help supply much-needed oxygen to the cells of the body while at the same time removing carbon dioxide and a host of other gases no longer needed by the body.
- Prevents bleeding – Cypress essential oil’s hemostatic and styptic properties allow it to control bleeding and hemorrhaging. That is why it has been indicated in women who may have unusually heavy menstruation. Cypress essential oil helps promote the more efficient action of thrombocytes in the formation and development of blood clots. Additionally, the ability of cypress essential oil to contract surrounding tissues help further restrict the movement of blood from the injured site thereby further lessening the impact of hemorrhaging.
- Promotes optimum liver function – Studies have shown that cypress essential oil can help improve liver function by enhancing the synthesis and secretion of bile and its eventual storage in the gallbladder. This helps in the more efficient emulsification of fat in the diet so that it can be readily absorbed and utilized by the cells. This helps prevent steatorrheic liver disease or fatty liver disease. Additionally, cypress essential oil can also help lower total cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. This can help reduce the risk of heart attacks.
- Helps promote removal of toxins – Because cypress essential oil helps improve venous return or the flow of blood back to the heart, it helps in the more efficient removal of toxins. It is also sudorific which means that it makes you sweat a lot more. Perspiration carries with it some of the toxins and other harmful substances that may have accumulated underneath the skin. Additionally, its improved liver function aids in more efficient detoxification, too.
Although the number of scholarly activities related to the many health benefits of cypress essential oil is not as many as that of other essential oils like rosemary, lavender, and thyme, studies nevertheless show its many properties.
One of the well-studied effects of cypress essential oil is in the enhancement or strengthening of the respiratory system. It has been shown to be effective in improving muco-ciliary clearance so that it will be a lot easier to breathe. This helps clear phlegm as well as other tenacious pulmonary secretions. If these fluids are not removed from the airways, oxygen cannot be efficiently absorbed into the blood. And this can lead to decreased oxygen to the tissues of the body. Additionally, the increased pulmonary secretion can trigger the cough reflex in an effort to mobilize the secretions for expectoration. Cypress essential oil, while it does not necessarily suppress the cough reflex, helps facilitate the removal of any foreign body which may be lodged in the airways and further complicate airway clearance. A few other studies showed that two of the active ingredients of cypress essential oil, camphene and limonene, are effective in the inhibition of the growth and proliferation of certain bacteria as well as fungi that may infect the lungs. These were all supported in the studies of Kuriyama, et al (2005), Romeo, et al (2008), and Mazari, et al (2010).
Because of its superb antibacterial properties, cypress oil has also been shown to be very popular in the management of wounds as well as other infections. This was supported by Selim and his colleagues in 2014 when they showed that cypress essential oil can help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria especially those found in open wounds. It has also been shown to be effective in the management of sores, pustules, pimples, and other kinds of skin eruptions.
Another well-studied use of cypress oil is its effect on emotional well-being. Like other essential oils, cypress has been shown to be particularly effective in the management of anxiety including sleep disorders like insomnia and parasomnias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and general anxiety disorders. While the actual mechanism of action is still pretty much poorly understood, it is believed that cypress essential oil exerts its usefulness in the regulation of dopaminergic and serotonergic receptors. These are well-known to be very important in the regulation of mood, providing individuals calm and peace of mind. In 2004, Lim and her colleagues suggested that the sedative effects of certain essential oils, of which cypress oil is included, can be a much safer alternative to pharmaceutical anti-anxiety agents as some of these drugs have the tendency to be addicting.
An offshoot of the studies on the calming effects of cypress essential oil is its effectiveness in treating muscle cramps. It has been shown to be particularly effective in managing restless leg syndrome. This is a neurologic condition whereby the legs exhibit uncontrollable spasms that is accompanied by throbbing pain and the sensation of the leg being pulled. That is why they call it the Restless Leg Syndrome. It is also effective in the management of carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a condition where the wrist undergo inflammatory changes leading to swelling and pain. Cypress essential oil has been shown to reduce the retention of fluid in the wrist to relieve the pressure off the nerves. This helps relieve the pain.
Cypress essential oil has also been studied for its effects on the vascular system primarily in the management of varicosities as well as the management of hematologic disorders. Of particular importance is the improvement in the return of blood to the heart, otherwise known as venous return. When venous return is improved, it helps prevent the abnormal accumulation of fluids in the lower extremities thereby preventing or relieving varicose veins. It can also aid in the reduction of the development of cellulite as the improved blood flow helps in the more efficient removal of toxins. These toxins have been implicated in the formation of cellulites. If these are efficiently removed, then there’s a reduced chance of cellulites being formed.
There are other studies that help show the different uses of cypress essential oil. And while many of these are not really randomized clinical trials, they nonetheless provide reasonable proof that cypress essential oil is indeed a very effective and very useful essential oil.
Based on the different active ingredients of cypress essential oil and their corresponding health properties and benefits, cypress essential oil is effective in the following health conditions. It should be understood that these do not represent the whole gamut of potential uses of cypress essential oil.
- Management of Respiratory Symptoms – Its bronchodilatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties make it ideal for the management of certain respiratory conditions where secretions need to be removed. This can include bronchitis and pneumonia although asthmatics can also benefit from the widening of the respiratory passages. Cypress essential oil can help improve respiratory symptoms so it’s a lot easier to breathe. This also helps with oxygenation.
- Management of Wounds and Certain Infections – The antiseptic, hemostatic, antimicrobial, and styptic properties of cypress essential oil make it a very effective and safer alternative to commercially available wound disinfectant and antibacterial solutions. It can help prevent super-infection of wounds, both internal and external, while walling off the wound from further injury or insult.
- Management of Muscle Cramps – The sedative and muscle relaxing properties of cypress essential oil make it ideal in the management of muscle cramps and muscle pull. It can help mitigate the spasmodic contractions seen in febrile seizures as well as mild to moderate convulsions. Among asthmatics who may have severe bronchospasm can also benefit from the muscle relaxant effects of cypress essential oil.
- Natural Detoxification – One of the highly sought after benefit of cypress essential oil is its ability to get rid of toxins. This is done in 3 different ways. One is the improvement of hepatic metabolism. Two is the increased production and excretion of urine. And three is the increased sweating or perspiration. To aid in the removal of toxins, cypress essential oil can also improve venous return as well as enhance the drainage of lymph.
- Alleviation of Anxiety – Its effects on the receptors of the neurotransmitter gamma amino butyric acid has been shown to be quite effective in helping relieve the symptoms of anxiety. This helps relax the mind and allow the individual to have a more restful sleep. It’s therefore ideal for people with insomnia as well as other sleep disorders. It may also be helpful in individuals with mild to moderate anxiety disorders.
- Management of Varicose Veins – Cypress essential oil has been known to be effective in promoting venous return. This helps prevent venous stasis or the tendency of the blood to pool in the lower extremities leading to varicose veins as well as hemorrhoids. Adding cypress essential oil in your therapy can aid in the prevention and management of these conditions.
- Natural Deodorant – Its clean, masculine, and spicy fragrance make cypress essential oil a good alternative to commercially available deodorant.
Cypress essential oil is primarily composed of alpha pinene which constitutes about 60 percent of its volume. It is a well-known anti-inflammatory substance which may help explain cypress essential oil’s ability to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration as well as help in the inhibition of the growth and proliferation of certain bacteria. Alpha pinene is also known as a bronchodilator as well as a decongestant which makes cypress oil ideal in the management of respiratory problems.
Cedrol follows in at a far second with 8 percent and limonene at 5 percent. Cedrol is important in the induction of sleep and relaxation while limonene is helpful for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Myrcene is also an excellent anti-inflammatory substance ad also has pain-relieving and sedative properties. The rest of the active ingredients make up the remainder of cypress essential oil and includes beta pinene, myrcene, and sabinene.
Unfortunately, there are no extensive studies to either support or refute the safety of cypress essential oil. Like all other essential oils, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of your medical professional first before taking any of these substances. One of the observed effects of cypress essential oil is kidney irritation so if you have diminished kidney function, it may be a lot better to steer clear of cypress in the meantime.
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