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Cypress White Essential Oil
Cypress essential oil is very astringent, and used wherever there is a condition involving an excess of fluid, from oedema, incontinence and excessive perspiration to bleeding gums, bilious attacks and over-heavy menstruation. It is also very useful in skin care, for oily and over-hydrated skins. It is used quite often in men’s toiletries for its antiseptic and astringent properties – useful in an aftershave, for its woody aroma and it is a useful deodorant.
This is the familiar cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) which is such an inextricable feature of the Mediterranean landscape, familiar through the paintings of Cezanne and Van Gogh. It is also the tree associated with cemeteries, a use which may derive from the fact that both the ancient Egyptians and the Romans dedicated the tree to their gods of death and the underworld.
The word ‘sempervirens’ in its name means ‘ever-living’ – referring to the evergreen nature of the leaves, but the perpetual greenness of the trees may also have been used as a symbol of life after death. Cypress essential oil is distilled from the leaves and the cones, and contains d-pinene, d-camphene, d-sylvcstrene, cymene, sabinol, terpenic alcohol and camphor of cypress. The oil varies from colourless to yellowy, and has a pleasantly smoky, woody smell, reminiscent of turpentine but less so than the oil of juniper.
The astringent action is also helpful for piles, used as bath oil, local wash or in an ointment (1% to 2% strength). Hemorrhoids are symptomatic of a poor circulation, and cypress is a tonic to the circulatory system. This makes it helpful in treating varicose veins. It can be applied locally to varicose areas – very gently. Never massage directly over varicose veins, and apply oils or creams with light strokes in an upward direction.
Cypress is antispasmodic, acting especially on the bronchi, so it is one of the oils to think of when treating asthma. A drop or two inhaled from a hankie or tissue will help to relieve an asthma attack and the spasmodic coughing of whooping cough. As a preventive measure against attacks, a few drops of cypress can be put on a saucer of water in the bedroom, or in an oil burner. This is especially valuable for asthmatic children, because many of them are very frightened when an attack happens during the night.
Another important use of cypress essential oil is in regulating the menstrual cycle. It helps to relieve painful periods and reduces abnormally heavy loss, particularly when this happens in the early stages of the menopause. A humble but very welcome use of cypress essential oil is for excessive sweating of the feet. It is both deodorant and astringent, so will reduce both the amount of perspiration and unpleasant odour. Use it in footbaths as needed.
Botanical Name: Cupressus sempervirens