With its narrow frame and sparse appearance, botanists consider spruce lagging behind its other conifer counterparts from the Pinacea plant family in terms of splendor. However, what spruce lacks in appearance, it makes up for with its wide array of impressive healing properties. Discover more about this essential oil.
What Is Spruce Oil?
Spruce oil is derived from the bristly, needlelike, and blue-green leaves and twigs of spruce trees, which are cousins to other ornamental conifers like cedars, firs, and pine. Spruce have reddish brown trunks that initially grow anywhere from 12 to 18 inches until they reach their maximum peak of 35 feet.
There are different species of spruce aside from the most common black spruce (Picea mariana), but not all of them produce healthy essential oils. Some other oil-bearing spruce species include:
- Hemlock or Eastern spruce (Tsuga canadensis)
- Norway or common spruce (Picea abies)
- White Spruce (Picea glauca)
Spruce thrives in the cold, wet climate of North America. It is commonly found in Canada from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, in some of the northern states of the continental U.S., and in Alaska, Labrador, and Newfoundland.
Uses of Spruce Oil
Native Americans used to concoct their own ointment, salves and lotion with spruce, honey and alum to treat skin problems such as boils, burns, skin inflammation, sores and wounds. They also used the balsam of spruce as a chewing gum and spread it as caulking or glue. They even ate the inner bark and shoots of the tree.
Spruce oil is frequently added in soap, air fresheners and household cleaner formulations to lend its fresh scent and act as a disinfecting agent. Because of its pleasant earthy scent, its calming effects and its ability to ease anxiety and stress, spruce oil is also a favorite in meditation rituals like grounding.1
For pet care, combine spruce oil with cedarwood oil. Apply it on your pet's coat, use in bath preparations, or use as a spray to get rid of fleas and ticks.2
Composition of Spruce Oil
Spruce oil smells sweet, soft, warm and inviting, similar to fir or pine, yet much smoother and milder. It is viscously thin and has a crystal clear to pale yellow color. In terms of its chemical constituents, spruce oil contains 55 percent monoterpenes — including camphene, α-Pinene and y-3-Carene — y-Bornyl acetate, and sesquiterpenes. Spruce oil has hormone-and cortisone-like properties that stimulate the thymus gland and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA).3
Benefits of Spruce Oil
Spruce oil has potent antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, antiseptic, disinfectant, expectorant and stimulant properties. It works wonders for respiratory ailments, wound healing, viral infections, arthritis, rheumatism and other forms of muscle aches and pains.
Since spruce oil positively affects many systems in the body, particularly the endocrine system, it's no surprise that it can deliver a wide range of well-documented health benefits, which include helping in:4
Stimulating and fortifying the immune system
Controlling some cases of hyperthyroidism
Regulating the adrenal hormone to help the body deal with stress and "fight-or-flight" situations
Relieving respiratory tract infections like asthma or bronchitis
Working as an expectorant to relieve mucus
Fighting off fatigue, including nervous exhaustion and chronic fatigue
Soothing skin conditions, such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and seborrhea dermatitis
Calming skin outbreaks triggered by hormonal imbalance or stress
How to Make Spruce Oil
Spruce oil is extracted through steam distillation from its leaves, which are usually harvested between the months of January and April when essential oil levels are at their highest. Branches that are exposed in the sun yield more spruce oil compared to the ones hidden in thick, dense forests. The 25-year-old spruce trees are known to produce twice as much essential oil than those 45 years and older.
During the steam distillation process, the botanical material is placed in a still and is subjected to extremely high temperatures in order to extract the essential oil.5
How Does Spruce Oil Work?
Because of its soothing components, spruce oil is frequently used in massages, saunas, and steam baths. Spruce oil may be used topically, inhaled directly through aromatherapy or as a tonic. Some oils that complement spruce oil well include cedarwood, clary sage, galbanum, lavender, oakmoss, pine and rosemary.6
In cases when you or someone in your family is suffering from muscle aches, painful joints, poor circulation, strains and sprains, I highly recommend that you use spruce oil topically with a milder carrier oil. Combining spruce oil with helichrysum oil, which is known for its toning properties, is suggested to help soothe injuries to the muscles, ligaments and tendons while speeding up healing and preventing the formation of unsightly scars. 7
Is Spruce Oil Safe?
Spruce oil is generally regarded as safe. However, any application without prior dilution to a gentler carrier oil may cause skin irritation in some individuals.8
To prevent this from occurring, one practical precautionary measure I advise when using essential oils for the first time is performing a skin patch test. Simply apply a tiny drop of spruce oil on a small portion of your skin and wait for at least 24 hours. If any reaction comes up, discontinue use.
On the other hand, if you're pregnant or a nursing mother, I advise you not to use spruce oil — or any other essential oil for that matter — without your physician's recommendation, to avoid any complications. This caveat is the same if you have any medical condition and are currently taking prescription medication.
Side Effects of Spruce Oil
Apart from the possibility of skin irritation or skin sensitizing, spruce oil currently has no known side effects. Nevertheless, always err on the side of caution. Consult a natural holistic practitioner or an aromatherapy specialist before incorporating any herbal oil into your supplement or treatment regimen.