In aromatherapy circles, Cypress is well know for its very beneficial action on veins. It is this action that can bring relief to tired aching legs at the end of the day or after long hours of standing on your feet.
You will find a mini profile on Cypress as well as an article on Varicose Veins in the Articles Archives. Cypress was also the subject of a blog written in October 2007.
Cypress is traditionally considered to have astringent, bactericidal and balancing properties. It constricts blood vessels and is recommended for broken capillaries, cellulite, hemorrhoids, pyorrhea, rheumatism and sweaty feet. A look at the average chemical profile of Cypress shows that this oil contains around 75% monoterpenes, 10% alcohols, 5% esters, 3% sesquiterpenes and 1% oxides. Alpha-pinene, a monoterpene and cedrol, an alcohol are two of the components that probably contribute to the vasoconstrictive effects we find in Cypress that are so helpful for varicose veins, and in fact hemorrhoids as well.
However here is some food for thought. In her book Aromatherapy Science, A guide for healthcare professionls, Maria Lis-Balchin says:
Cypress oil uses include: circulatory problems; coughs, flu, rheumatism, excess fluids; broken veins on the face. It is said to be: a styptic, expectorant, diuretic, sudorific, vasoconstrictor, vermifuge, vulnerary and ‘the healer for blood, sweat, and tears’ (Ryman, 1991): Lawless, 1992; Rose, 1992;Price, 1993; Sheppard-Hanger, 1995.
She continues with:
There are virtually no bioactivity data available for this essential oil, so the aromatherapy uses are based entirely on herbal usage, which is mainly using the water-soluble components and at best an alcoholic extract containing very little essential oil. There is therefore little justification for suggesting that cypress oil alleviates any of the conditions listed above. However, massage itself can alleviate many stress and muscular conditions and cypress essential oil can be used as a fragrance in conjunction with this therapy to provide a pleasant odor.
Hippocrates recommended cypress for haemorrhoids with bleeding. It is applied externally as an astringent for varicose veins and taken internally for coughs, colds, flu and rheumatic aches (Ryman, 1991; Chevallier, 1996).
Unfortunately the lack of scientific research makes it difficult to prove the claims made by aromatherapists for the effectiveness of this oil. One thing is certain scientific research is mainly carried out by the pharmaceutical and fragrance industries. If there isn’t a commercial end to the research, it often just isn’t done.
So do I totally buy what Maria Lis-Balchin says? Well I can’t argue with her with respect to the lack of research on the oil I certainly couldn’t find any myself, especially when it comes to the use of cypress and varicose veins, but I have used cypress essential oil with many clients over the years and they have found relief for aching varicose veins. Was this just the placebo effect? I doubt it. Was it the result of massage? Again I doubt it as not all applications were made with massage? I see that she can accept the Herbal Uses for cypress, but what component in cypress is it that gives it its effectiveness? Often the effective ingredient in a herbal preparation comes from its essential oil content, and if this is true, why wouldn’t the essential oil be effective?
Do we really need to have a research study proving the effectiveness of a particular essential oil on a particular condition before we can accept that the oil may have that property? Or can we accepts the practical experience gathered by many different aromatherpists using those essential oils for many years and with many different clients?
What do you think?