Cupressus sempervirens belonging to the Family Cupressacea, is an evergreen conifer, which grows to a height of 25 to 45 metres (62 to 142 feet). This well-known columnar, sometimes called “Italian” cypress has been known in Mediterranean countries since antiquity. Both the Greeks and the Romans planted these trees on temple and burial grounds, and even today, in temperate countries this tree is associated with parks and cemeteries. Guenther describes Cypress as “..a tree of serene beauty, blending well into the Mediterranean landscape; its dark foliage contrasts with the lucid sky, and etches delicate silhouettes against the blue sea.” A colourless to pale yellow green essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of the cones, twigs and needles. The yield, quality and chemical components of the oil will depend upon the condition of the plant material and the method and length of the distillation. Only young branches and adherent leaves should be used. The yield from fresh terminal branches and leaves averages 0.2%. This may be higher if dried material is used.
Cypress essential oil is a valuable constituent in perfumery particularly perfumes of the chypre type. Guenther also tells us that “For years the oil has been employed to alleviate the temporary distressing effects of whooping cough on children” (Soltmann, “Keuchhusten and Cypressenoel,” Therapie der Gegenwart, March (1904) Cf. Winterseel, “Das Cypressenoel,” Inaug.-Dissert. Med. Fakultaet., Bonn (1908). For this purpose a 25 per cent alcoholic solution of the oil should be dropped four times daily on the bed linen, pillowcases, and underwear of children afflicted with this disease. The number, length, and intensity of the cough paroxysms are thereby greatly diminished.”
Cypress essential oil has a woody, nutty and slight smoky odour. It blends well with bergamot and other citrus, clary sage, frankincense, Petitgrain, pine, juniper, lavender sandalwood, cedarwood, marjoram and chamomile.
Psychologically, Cypress it thought to balance the sympathetic nervous system and can be helpful in relieving nervous tension and stress related conditions. It is also considered to be useful as a spiritual aid for transitions, particularly death. It can also help to ease the pain of losses of all kinds, particularly when one is experiencing the loss of someone close.
On the physiological level Cypress has antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent and bactericidal properties and is useful as a tonic for mature skin conditions. It is also helps to constrict blood vessels making it helpful for hemorrhoids. When used regularly its balancing properties can be helpful for menopausal hot flashes & tension as well as PMS. Its bactericidal properties are helpful for respiratory complaints including asthma, bronchitis, pleurisy, whooping cough and spasmodic cough.
Contraindications:. Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Do not use during pregnancy and use with caution on people with untreated high blood pressure.
Ernest GuentherThe Essential Oils, Krieger Publishing Company, 1952, reprint 1976
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001,2002, 2003, 2004