by Mindy Yang

Juniperus oxycedrus is the Mediterranean equivalent of the common juniper. Known as prickly juniper, it is a hardy spreading plant, which can vary in size from a low shrub (very typical of the Mediterranean maquis and garrigue), to a tree of about 6 m (20 ft). The leaves are tiny, narrow and prickly, and have little surface from which moisture can escape during summer droughts; they are white and green above, dark green beneath. The cones are yellow and rounded, and the fruits are berry-like, growing in clusters, and black when ripe. (See also juniper.)

Cade oil was introduced into French medicine in the middle of the nine¬teenth century to treat skin irritation. It was listed as having antiseptic, vulnerary and anti-parasitic properties, and was used in the treatment of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, scalp infections with hair loss, herpes, all skin eruptions and chronic rhinitis. (It was also used in veterinary practice, externally on horses and other animals, to treat ulcers, scabies, worms and parasites.)


Cade oil is distilled from the young twigs and wood of more mature plants. The oil is resinous, a darkish brown colour, and has a strange wary smell which is even caustic and tar-like (not surprisingly, as creosol forms the main constituent of creosote). 

The principal constituents: Phenols (creosol, guaiacol), sesquiterpenes (cadinene) and terpenes.

Dangers: Unfortunately, cade is often adulterated with pine, birch, petrol and tar, so the benefits this oil can offer to the skin are limited (the name ‘creosote’ comes from the Greek words meaning flesh-saving, referring to the powerful antiseptic action on the skin). In fact the false oil can provoke terrible skin reactions so, to check, hold the oil up to a light: if it is blackish-brown instead of reddish and dark, it may have been adulterated.

  • Unadulterated cade oil is one of the best remedies for hair loss, dandruff, hair weakened by dyeing and bleaching, and skin eruptions.
Dandruff remedy

This makes enough for only a few applications.

  • 5 ml (1 tsp) castor oil
  • 2 drops wheatgerm oil
  • 3 ml (a good 1/2 tsp) soya oil
  • 10 drops cade oil
  • Mix all the ingredients together well, and place in a dark bottle. To use, rub gently into scalp, massage for a few moments, then leave for a couple of hours. Wash off with a mild shampoo. Use twice a week I would advise consulting a practitioner concerning any other hair problems, as they can be caused by diet or other conditions, and will need expert or specialist treatment.

Mindy Yang
Mindy Yang


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