When you inhale a conifer, you might be transported to a grand forest. Wisps of aromas remind you of long hikes under a canopy of evergreens, and remind you of Christmases past.
According to Britannica, a conifer is any member of the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida, order Pinales, made up of gymnospermous plants that usually have needle-shaped evergreen leaves and seeds attached to the scales of a woody bracted cone. A gymnospermous plant is a plant that has seeds unprotected by an ovary or fruit.
In aromatherapy, the conifers most used are from trees from the Pinaceae and Cupressaceae families. You'll find 16 of these oils in AromaSense.
Conifers have some awesome therapeutic benefits! They are amazing for respiratory concerns for their expectorant, mucolytic, and decongestant properties. Many are anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-rheumatic, and anti-spasmodic. You might want to use them during illness for their anti-bacterial, anti-infectious, anti-fungal, and anti-septic benefits. Several are rubefacient.
Emotionally, use conifers to ease anxiety, for calming and grounding, and to relieve stress.
The Cypress family, Cupressaceae is the largest conifer family in genera and third-largest in species. These consist of evergreen timber and ornamental shrubs and trees from throughout the world.
Aromatics in this family include oils that help with stress-related conditions and to reduce nervous tension. They are generally astringent for the skin and are anti-rheumatic.
Oils in the Cypress family include:
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Blue Cypress (Callitris intratropica)
Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
Cade (Juniperus oxycedrus)
Cedarwood, Virginian (Juniperus virginiana)
Hinoki (Chamaecypars obtusa)
Pinaceae is the Pine family of conifers with 11 genera and around 220 species which prefer northern temperate regions. Aromatics in this family are generally quite effective for respiratory concerns and are particularly mucolytic to help fight congestion.
Oils in this family include:
Cedarwood, Atlas (Cedrus atlantica)
Cedarwood, Himalayan (Cedrus deodora)
Fir, Balsam (Abies sibirica)
Fir, Dougas (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Fir, Siberian (Abies sibirica)
Fir, Silver (Abies alba)
Pine, Jack (Pinus banksiana or Pinus divaricata)
Pine, Pinyon (Pinus edulis)
Pine, Scotch (Pinus sylvestris)
Pine, White (Pinus strobus)
Spruce, Black (Picea mariana)
Spruce, Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis / Pinus canadensis)
In AromaSense, you can filter your Aromatics table by just the botanical families. The results include the little known Cypriol. I couldn't find any information identifying it as a conifer but it is in the Cupressaceae family . It also shares some constituents with Patchouli such as Patchoulenone, Patchouli alcohol, and Patchoulanol. If you have more information, please leave a comment.
The majority of conifers have constituents in the Monoterpene chemical family, but the Cedarwoods are primarily comprised of Sesquiterpenes.
To go deeper, you can review their constituent values in AromaSense Advanced Master. It would also be interesting to compare GC/MS reports for the conifers in your supply.
Regarding safety, with the exception of Cade and Cypriot, conifer essential oils are safe for children 2 and up.
You'll want to keep your conifers in a refrigerator. They oxidize quickly so be sure to use them within 1-2 years after opening.
If you're not sure how to filter your records in AromaSense, you can watch our YouTube video about just that!
Wendy Robbins has written an amazing article on Conifers. If you want to learn more you can check it out here.