Essential oil profile: Cedarwood Atlas

Many of us see September as a “new year”. The fall season can often be a time of transition and change, calling us to step outside of our comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory.

In times of change and transition, I often turn to the essential oil of cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica).

Atlas Cedar is a tall coniferous tree native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco. The tree can grow to between 40 to 50 meters in height with a trunk of up to 2 meters in diameter.

Revered for millennia, cedarwood has been used for embalming purposes, building material, medicines, cosmetics, and perfumery and is considered one of the earliest incense materials (Eden Botanicals, 2016).

Cedarwood essential oil

Cedarwood essential oil is extracted through a process of steam distillation from the wood chips leftover from wood used for construction and furniture making (Peace Rhind, 2014).

It shouldn’t be confused with Juniperus virginiana which is also sold as “cedarwood” essential oil. Juniperus virginiana is an entirely different genus and is quite different in aroma.

Cedarwood essential oil has a variety of therapeutic properties; it’s a gentle but powerful circulatory stimulant, a powerful bronchial tract decongestant, and its anti-inflammatory properties are helpful in managing a variety of skin conditions.

A scent to anchor you

Cedarwood’s aroma can be described as earthy, woody and warm.


In general, woody scents help us stay rooted and are useful if you feel in need of an inner anchor (Peace Rhind, 2014).  

In aromatherapy, the essential oil of cedarwood is known for its calming and stabilizing effect on the mind.

Scientists have discovered that the inhalation of Cedrol, a chemical component present in cedarwood essential oil, increases levels of relaxation, including lowering the heart rate and blood pressure (Dayawansa et al, 2003).

Inhaling cedarwood’s warm and deeply woody aroma can make you feel grounded, centered, and present (Holmes, 2016).

On the emotional level, cedarwood can provide a secure anchor for feelings of insecurity because subtly embedded in cedarwood’s woody fragrance is the resonance of bravery (Holmes, 2016; Zeck, 2014).

Meditation with Cedarwood

I suggest experiencing this essential oil on its own before blending it with other essential oils. The following meditation is a way for you to connect with the grounding properties of cedarwood and embrace your brave heart.

Standing with cedars_Shelagh Lenon.JPG

Before you begin the meditation, place one drop of cedarwood essential oil on a tissue and inhale the scent. You can also place 4 – 5 drops of cedarwood essential oil in a diffuser and have the scent permeate your meditation space.

Close your eyes and visualize the following:

You are sitting at the base of a majestic Atlas Cedarwood. Your back is supported by its broad and strong trunk. This tree has withstood many changes, growing more noble, powerful and beautiful with time, not resisting change but flowing and adapting with currents of the years. You hear the breeze singing through its branches and ringing down its trunk. Become aware of its warm, earthy, woody scent; let it fill you with feelings of its strength and resilience, endurance and vitality (Peace Rhind, 2014).

As you gently breathe in and out, experience the aroma for 5 – 10 minutes.

Diffuser blend recipes

Cedarwood blends well with a variety of essential oils including lavender, frankincense, and bergamot essential oils.

Here are a few simple diffuser blends for you to try. I suggest making a stock blend in a small 5 ml amber glass bottle and then adding 4 – 5 drops to your diffuser.

Blend 1

  •          4 drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  •           4 drops of cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)

Blend 2

  •         10 drops of bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
  •         5 drops of cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)

Blend 3

  •         4 drops of frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
  •         5 drops of cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  •         7 drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Essential oil safety

Tisserand and Young (2014) do not indicate any special precautions when using Atlas cedarwood essential oil.

Do not use essential oils undiluted on your skin. Always dilute with a carrier. For more information see NAHA’s Methods of Application page. Do not take essential oils internally unless prescribed by a medical doctor or a clinically-trained aromatherapist.

I recommend purchasing essential oils from a supplier who is dedicated to supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy practitioner market and educated public. Organic and wild-crafted essential oils are preferred.

The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.


Strobilomyces. n.d. Cedrus atlanticus [photo]. CC BY-SA 3.0,

Dayawansa, S. et al. (2003). Autonomic responses during inhalation of natural fragrance of Cedrol in humans. Autonomic Neuroscience. 108(1-2). November 2003. Retrieved from

Eden Botanicals. (2016) Cedar atlas – organic. [webpage]. Retrieved from

Holmes, P. (2016). Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. London: Singing Dragon.

National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. (2016) What is Aromatherapy. [web page]. Retrieved from

Peace Rhind, J. (2014). A Sensory Journey. London: Jessica Kingsley Publication.

Tisserand, R. & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Zeck, R. (2014). The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. Australia: Aroma Tours.

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