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Cupressus sempervirens

Cupressus sempervirens  

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Cypress, common cypress, Mediterranean cypress, Italian cypress, pencil pine

Original Habitat

The C. sempervirens tree is native to and very popular in the Mediterranean region.[1] In fact, using nuclear molecular markers, it is conclusive that the Cypress tree has been present since ancient times in Turkey, Italy and in the Greek islands.[2] Cypress has been studied for years in the southeast Kahramanmaras province of Turkey for its use as medicinal oil, as well as a tea and as a culinary spice.[3] The tree itself can grow upwards of 30 metres. In the spring, small flowers blooms and the leaves are a darker colour of green. The tree also produces small cones and thrives in rocky mountainous areas.

Plant Part Used

Branches, leaves, needles


The essential oil of C. sempervirens is not used in foods. It is used in the fragrance industry as a balancing fragrance and in various men’s cosmetic products.[4] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is likely to be found in formulations rather than as a single oil preparation.


The essential oil is steam distilled and commonly used in men’s fragrances due to its woodsy aroma.  The oil is clear and very thin in consistency. It is common to find this oil adulterated with other species of evergreen.[4]

Chemical Constituents

Monoterpenes: Apha and beta pinene
Sesquiterpenes: Alpha and beta cedrene, cymol
Diterpenes and Phenol Acids [5][6][7][8]

Medicinal Uses


Cytotoxicity- A subspecies of cypress was tested against several cancer cell lines along with two other essential oils. The cypress leaf oil exhibited the highest antiproliferative and cytotoxic activity particularly against renal cell lines. The mechanism of action responsible for these actions was not clearly identified.[9]

Antimicrobial- Cypress essential oil was found to have moderate antimicrobial activity when compared to both antibiotics vancomycin (30 mcg) and erythromycin (15 mcg) in a laboratory analysis designed to evaluate the antimicrobial activities of several essential oils.[3]

Insecticidal- Cypress essential oil illustrated repellant and toxic effects against Sitophilus zeamais (Maize Weevil) and Tribolium confusum (Flour Beetle).[5]

Traditional Use

Coughs and bronchial distress++
Water retention++

 There are presently no clinical studies examining the therapeutic effects of Cypress essential oil. Studies that are available report on the use of an alcohol or water extract, neither of which would contain enough of the oil to influence any clinical outcome.

Contraindications and Precautions

Although this essential oil is considered safe, Cypress should be avoided during pregnancy and by breast-feeding mothers.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.         Waisel Y. How to reduce air pollution by Cupressus pollen? Allerg Immunol (Paris). Mar 2000;32(3):141-142.

2.         Bagnoli F. Is Cupressus sempervirens native in Italy? An answer from genetic and palaeobotanical data. Mol Ecol. 7 Apr 2009;2276-2286.

3.         Toroglu S. In vitro antimicrobial activity and antagonistic effect of essential oils from plant species. J Environ Biol. Jul 2007;28(3):551-559.

4.         Lis Balchan M. Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press. UK; 2006.

5.         Tapondjou AL. Bioactivities of cymol and essential oils of Cupressus sempervirens and Eucalyptus saligna against Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky and Tribolium confusum du Val. Journal of Stored Products Research. 2005;41(1):91-102.

6.         Patri G, Patri F, Silano V, et al. Plants in Cosmetics Volume II. Council of Europe Publishing. pp.61-62.

7.         Imed C. Hydrodistillation kinetic investigation of essential oil from the Tunisian Cupressus sempervirens L. Journal of Essential Oil-Bearing Plants.2005;8:12-26.

8.         Loukis A. Composition of the essential oil of Cupressus sempervirens L. cones from Greece. Journal of Essential Oil Research.2007;363-364.

9.         Loizzo MR. Antiproliferative effects of essential oils and their major constituents in human renal adenocarcinoma and amelanotic melanoma cells. Cell Prolif. Dec 2008;41(6):1002-1012.

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