Cypress: The Benefits and Contraindications
Although cypress is a genus of trees, today we’d like to focus on the particular species Cupressus sempervirens, also known as “common cypress” or “Mediterranean cypress.” It’s an evergreen tree with a pyramidal shape and great longevity. It’s even estimated that there are trees that are more than 1,000 years old!
In ancient times, this species was considered a funerary symbol and was used to construct buildings and ships. Meanwhile, the leaves, seeds, and fruits were used by traditional medicine to prepare ointments capable of relieving the common cold and bronchitis.
Discover the benefits and possible side effects of cypress in this article!
The main properties of cypress
According to an analysis published in the IOSR Journal of Pharmacy, Cupressus sempervirens is composed of alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, phenols, and essential oils that attribute antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, healing, and other properties to it.
Another study published in The Mediterranean Diet also highlights these benefits. The research showed that the common cypress has a series of active ingredients, particularly phenols and essential oils, that are responsible for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antiviral effects.
The benefits of cypress
Popular medicine uses cypress to soothe some common cold symptoms, reduce circulatory problems, and minimize skin rashes, among others. On the other hand, scientific research has determined that cypress oil has several important benefits.
Find out what they are in detail here!
1. It helps soothe coughs
It’s believed that cypress oil can fight coughs because of its camphene content, a molecule often found in natural cough suppressants. However, more research is still needed to support this benefit.
Now, if you want to relieve this discomfort with cypress oil, it’s best to use a diffuser. Simply add a few drops of diluted essential oil during a warm bath, and inhale.
2. It can help fight warts
Cypress oil is linked to reducing the number of warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties that can treat skin conditions like those that cause this unsightly symptom.
Research published in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Science found cypress oil to be effective against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is characterized by the presence of warts and cold sores.
However, keep in mind that if you don’t know the cause of the wart’s appearance, it’s best to consult a specialist.
3. It can help to deflate hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the region of the anus and rectum. According to a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, cypress oil can be applied in this area to relieve inflammation and eliminate bacteria.
However, it should be diluted in plenty of water or a carrier oil (coconut, olive, almond, etc.).
4. Cypress can help clean cuts, wounds, and infections
Cypress has chemical compounds that give it antimicrobial effects. For this reason, it can be useful to clean cuts and wounds and prevent the development of infections.
That said, you should be sure to dilute the oil in a carrier before applying it.
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5. It can reduce pimples and acne
Bacteria are one of the causes of acne and pimples. A 2017 review yielded that cypress oil is an adjuvant against this skin disorder since it has an antimicrobial effect capable of reducing its severity by eliminating bacteria.
As the oil concentration is usually quite high, you should dilute it before applying it to the skin. You can add about five drops in a spray bottle with water or mix the same amount with a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil.
6. It may reduce cellulite
The same 2017 review exposed that cypress oil is one of the most used in massages recommended to treat cellulite. However, more research is still needed to verify its effectiveness against this skin disorder.
7. It may combat varicose veins
Considered a sign of poor circulation, varicose veins are often treated with massages that include different essential oils. While it’s true that diluted cypress oil can be used in this practice, there’s no conclusive evidence of its benefits.
8. Cypress may help manage anxiety and stress
According to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, aromatherapy massages may have significant physical and psychological benefits.
Research of 11 participants who received massages with lavender, cypress, and sweet marjoram oils mixed with almond oil revealed decreased levels of anxiety and depression. However, more research is still needed to prove this.
9. It can help relieve muscle pain
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) establishes that massage therapy effectively relieves pain in areas such as the back and neck.
Cypress oil is one of the most commonly used during these relaxing sessions. It’s believed to act as an antispasmodic that reduces pain and cramps, but more conclusive studies are still needed in this regard.
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How is cypress used?
Cypress can be used topically through decoctions, oils, or infusions.
- Decoction: This is made by adding 50 g of dried leaves to one liter of water. Then, it should be cooked over high heat and, when it starts to boil, you should lower it to medium heat and leave it to cool for 30 minutes. Finally, filter it and use it as a wash or compress.
- Infusion: To make this, add 10 g of the dried plant for every 200 ml of water. Thus, once you add the leaves, add hot water, cover it, and let it steep for 5 minutes. After this time, filter it and allow it to cool.
- Oil: This is extracted from the fresh leaves and the cypress berries. It’s usually the most commercialized form and used in aromatherapy and massage treatments.
Natural remedies with cypress
Given its popularity in traditional medicine, it’s not surprising that there are a variety of natural remedies made with the different parts of this tree. We’ll tell you about some of the most popular ones next.
A cypress sitz bath for hemorrhoids
A sitz bath consists of sitting in a shallow bowl of warm water. Follow each of the steps listed in the space below to get the most out of this remedy.
- Ten drops of cypress oil
- Six crushed witch hazel leaves
- Three crushed mallow leaves
- Two liters of water
- Mix all the plants and the cypress oil.
- Then, in a pot, add two tablespoons of this mixture for every two liters of water.
- Boil for 5 minutes, let it steep, and strain.
- Pour the infusion into a bowl and sit on it until it has cooled.
A cypress infusion to treat varicose veins
This preparation is used to make compresses that you can place on the affected area to reduce inflammation. The ingredients and preparation are as follows:
- Ten drops of cypress oil
- One tablespoon of horse chestnut
- One tablespoon of witch hazel
- Two liters of water
- First, mix the plants with the cypress and put them in a pot with water.
- Then, boil for 5 minutes, let steep, and filter.
- Finally, soak some compresses. Apply them when they’re warm on the varicose veins areas two to three times a day.
Cypress, especially its oil, can have adverse effects if used improperly. First of all, some people may be allergic to it. It’s common for a person allergic to essential oils to react the following:
- Pain and burning
It’s also not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. In the case of babies, small children, and pets, its use is not recommended unless it has been indicated by a specialist.
What to remember about cypress
Cupressus sempervirens, also known as common or Mediterranean cypress, is a tree species that stands out for its pyramid shape and longevity. In addition to being used for construction, cypress is prized for its medicinal properties.
It can improve coughs, varicose veins, and muscle pain while also combating warts, pimples, and acne. However, it should always be diluted to avoid unwanted effects.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Al-Snafi A. Medical importance of Cupressus sempervirens- A review. IOSR Journal Of Pharmacy. 2016;6(2):66–76.
- Orhan IE, Tumen I. Potential of Cupressus sempervirens (Mediterranean Cypress) in Health. The Mediterranean Diet. 2015:639–47.
- Emami S, Tayarani-Najaran Z, Sabouri M, Khajeh P et al. Antiviral Activity of Obtained Extracts from Different Parts of Cupressus sempervirens against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. 2009;12(3):133-139.
- Selim SA, Adam ME, Hassan SM, Albalawi AR. Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity of the essential oil and methanol extract of the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens L.). BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jun 2;14:179.
- Orchard A, van Vuuren S. Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4517971.
- Kuriyama H, Watanabe S, Nakaya T, Shigemori I et al. Immunological and Psychological Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005 Jun;2(2):179-184.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). [Updated May 2019]. Massage Therapy: What You Need To Know. Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/massage-therapy-what-you-need-to-know