By our friends at Health Ambition

Have you heard of cedarwood oil? If not, you’re missing out. It may not be as popular or well-known as oils like lavender, eucalyptus or tea tree but it’s just as powerful. It’s applications are so varied – it can be an insect repellant or a sleep aid, and even helps concentration.

When essential oil beginners ask me recommend a “starter kit” of a few essential oils, cedarwood oil is always high up on my list. I’ve been using it for years now and have benefited greatly. Science backs it up too. Read on to find out more about the best uses of cedarwood essential oil.

What Is Cedarwood Essential Oil?

Cedarwood essential oil comes from the wood of the Cedar tree, as the name implies. There are many varieties of cedar tree depending on the region grown. It’s native to cold climates and high altitudes. (source)

The oil is extracted by steam distillation and contains a multitude of medicinally active compounds. Some examples include alpha-cedrene, beta-cedrene, cedrol, widdrol, thujopsene and sesquiterpenes. I’ll go into more detail about some of these further on. (source)

The Best Uses of Cedarwood Essential Oil

1. It Improves Hair Growth

If you are affected by hair loss or just want longer, thicker locks, cedarwood oil may be just what you need. A study was carried out on 86 patients with alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease causing bald patches and eventually total baldness.

A mix of 4 essential oils including cedarwood oil was massaged into the scalp daily in the test group. The control group massaged the scalp with inert carrier oils. 44% of patients in the test group showed an improvement in hair growth compared with 15% in the control group.

Any sort of massage will encourage hair growth as it increases blood flow to the area. This nourishes and oxygenates the hair roots, stimulating growth. However, the essential oil treatment gave results nearly three times higher that of the plain oil massage. The study concluded that essential oils including cedarwood oil are “a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata”. (source)

2. It May Improve Concentration

Cedarwood oil may help your brain focus, making it a good choice for students or the workplace. One study investigated the effect of cedarwood essential oil on children with ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder). ADHD is characterised by a shorter than usual attention span and becoming distracted easily.

The participants inhaled vapour from a bottle of cedarwood oil three times a day for thirty days. The outcome was measured using ECG and a neuropsychological assessment called “Test of Variables of Attention” (TOVA). A 33% improvement was observed.

This dramatic improvement is attributed to the high concentration of sesquiterpenes in cedarwood essential oil. Sesquiterpenes improve oxygenation of brain cells. (source)

3. It’s A Powerful Insect Repellant

Cedarwood oil is commonly used as an insect repellant – and the scientific evidence to support this is sound. There are numerous studies using cedarwood oil against various insect species.

One study showed that many components of cedarwood oil have insecticidal effects against the pulse beetle and the housefly. 97.5% of the insects were killed. Two naturally occurring sesquiterpenes were deemed responsible – himachalol and β-himachalene. (source)

Another study tested its efficacy against cockroaches. It was found to have repellant power but did not kill the cockroaches. Only 63% of cockroaches were repelled so it’s best used in combination with other methods. (source)

Finally, a study investigated the toxicity of cedar oil vapour on clothes moths. I have used this method in my own home however, it’s only been proven to kill moths in the early stage of their life cycle – the newly hatched larvae. It’s not effective against older moths. (source)

4. It Can Help You Sleep

Many essential oils have sedative and anxiolytic effects. I was most familiar with lavender and chamomile for this purpose. However, cedarwood oil has also been shown to have sedative effects.

One study looked at cedrol, a major component of cedarwood oil. It was found to prolong sleeping time in lab rats when given along with a conventional sedative (phenobarbital) (source)

5. It Can Kill Bacteria

A study examined the antibacterial powers of various essential oils against a strain of bacteria called “streptococcus mutans”. Streptococcus mutans is mostly found in the mouth in humans and is responsible for tooth decay.

While many of the oils had no effect on the bacteria, cedarwood oil came out as #3, behind cinnamon oil and lemongrass oil. It’s suggested that it may also be effective against yeasts. (source)

6. It Relieves Pain And Inflammation

Cedarwood oil is commonly suggested for treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and acne. It makes sense as it’s been shown to reduce skin inflammation in lab rats and also ease symptoms of arthritis. (source)

How To Use Cedarwood Essential Oil

There are lots of different ways to use cedarwood essential oil depending on the desired effects and your own personal preferences. Here are some of the most common methods:

Cedarwood Oil Shampoo

  1. For improved hair growth, add a few drops of cedarwood oil to your shampoo (about 1 drop of essential oil for one tablespoon of shampoo).
  2. Massage this into your hair for 5 minutes
  3. Rinse as normal.

Cedarwood Oil Hair Mask

  1. Mix cedarwood oil with a carrier such as coconut or almond oil. The ratio is 1 drop of essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier.
  2. Massage this into the scalp for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and towel and leave for 30 minutes to absorb.
  4. Rinse as normal

Cedarwood Oil Insect Repellant

To repel insects in your home or garden, use an aromatherapy oil burner or diffuser with cedarwood oil. If you want to keep insects at bay while you’re out and about, try an aromatherapy necklace.

Cedarwood Oil For Sleep

To improve your sleep quality try a diffuser with cedarwood oil in your bedroom or add a few drops to a cloth and keep it on your bedside table.

Cedarwood Oil For Skin

To ease skin conditions such as acne or eczema, put a few drops of cedarwood oil into a warm bath and soak for 30 minutes. Alternatively, add 1 drop of cedarwood oil to 1 tablespoon of plain moisturiser and apply to the affected area.


Never consume cedarwood oil internally as it can cause vomiting, nausea and damage to the digestive system. Cedarwood oil is not safe for pregnant women. Always check with your healthcare practitioner before using cedarwood oil if you have an ongoing health condition. Women who are pregnant should not use cedarwood essential oil. (source)

Always dilute cedarwood oil before applying it to the skin. The ratio is 1 drop of cedarwood oil in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. It can cause skin irritation if used undiluted. (source)


The best uses of cedarwood essential oil cover a wide range – it’s very versatile. Personally, I use it all the time, especially as an insect repellant when I travel. I just put a few drops into my essential oil locket and it does the job. I think it’s a great addition to anyone’s essential oil collection and highly recommend it.


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