Douglas-Fir – EO Profile
Synopsis of Douglas-Fir essential oil/hydrosol profile with formulas, recipes, therapeutic and cosmetic applications.
By Jeanne Rose
Common Name/Latin Binomial: Douglas-Fir ~ Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco aka P. douglasii,
Other Common Name/Naming Information: Douglas-fir is in a separate genus from either the fir or the pine and more closely related to a Spruce. A Fir is of the genus Abies while a Douglas-fir or Oregon-pine is a falsely named tree. In botany the dash shows that the person who is writing about the plant knows that it is not a Fir or a Pine and in fact Douglas-fir is more closely related to a Spruce.
Countries of Origins: It is native to the West Coast of the United States and is now grown elsewhere
Eden Botanicals Harvest Location: France
Endangered or Not: The population is stable and there is little concern with this tree in California.
General description of Plant habitat and growth: In Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, the leaves are spirally arranged, but slightly twisted at the base to lie flattish on either side of the shoot, needle-like, 2–3.5 cm (0.79–1.38 in) long, green above with no stomata, and with two whitish stomata bands below. Unlike the Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, coast Douglas-fir foliage has a noticeable sweet fruity-resinous scent, particularly if crushed.
Portion of plant used in distillation, how distilled, extraction methods and yields: Wild-grown and certified organic, the leaves and twigs are distilled, usually from fallen or logged trees. Yield was 1 gallon EO per ton for oven dried branches in one study.
|Taste:||Bitter, aromatic, umami|
|Intensity of Odor:
Scale is 1-10 with 1= lowest
Properties and Uses: Douglas Fir essential oil is strongly antiseptic and indicated for respiratory infections. It can be used as a local disinfectant. This is one of the most lemon-scented of the ‘Firs’, with a powerful sweet, fresh, refreshing odor, well-liked as a room refresher or scent in soap blends.
Physical Uses & How used (IG or AP):
Application: Massage for sore muscles
Ingestion: We do not recommend ingestion of EO; the leaves can be used as tea
Inhalation: For all respiratory problems
Tell us what Jeanne Rose uses this EO as a respiratory inhalant in a process “Progressive Inhalation” for colds and flu and she also used the needles in a tea to flavor other herbs and for colds. Jeanne calls this the “Oil of Clean Air”.
Application/ Skincare. It can be used as a local disinfectant when used in lotions for the skin. This is one of the most lemon-scented of the ‘Firs’, with a powerful sweet, fresh, refreshing odor, well-liked as a room refresher or scent in soap blends. Jeanne loves this oil in soaps and prefers it to many others.
Diffuse/Diffusion: The essential oil is used as a respiratory inhalant to ease breathing; in a home diffused odor to purify the air and in products for a great uplifting odor. If you diffuse this oil in late November and early December, you are sure to inspire the “Christmas spirit” in even the grouchiest of scrooges! It is a wonderful oil to wake up to at that particular time of year.
Jeanne Rose’s experience with this EO: Jeanne loves this EO for its fragrant air scent and slight citrus odor. She uses it in “Progressive Inhalation” as well as to ‘clean’ the air of her home and to remove ‘negative energy’.
Emotional Use: Refreshing and even slightly stimulating by inhalation.
HYDROSOL: The Douglas-fir hydrosol is organically grown from a USA source. It can be used in any skin care product for its refreshing quality, as a skin toner; and especially nice to be sprayed about a room to refresh the air.
PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.
Key Use: Jeanne Rose calls this the “Oil of Clean Air” in her course for its refreshing healthful qualities.
Chemical Components: ß-Pinene and smaller amounts of Citronellyl acetate and b-Phellandrene. USA grown and distilled Douglas Fir is organically grown and contains terpenes and some limonene giving it a citrus note. “Chemistry of the hydrosol of one sample was mainly 30% monoterpenols, 12% esters, 10% borneol, other alcohols and a small amount of aldehydes and camphor ketones —Harman.”
Physical/chemical Properties: The leaves are steam distilled to create the essential oil whose components vary considerably. The French oil contains large quantities of ß-Pinene and smaller amounts of Citronellyl acetate and b-Phellandrene.
Comparison of Main Components: (Chart/ Formatted into the Blog) The main compounds found in Serbian EO were bornyl acetate (34.65 %), camphene (29.82 %), α-pinene (11.65 %) and santene (5.45 %).
Blends Best with: The EO can be blended with any other conifer oil as well as the Mediterranean plants such as Spearmint and rich deep oils such as Spikenard.
Aroma Assessment: Green, herbaceous and citrus.
Historical Uses: Native Americans made much use of Douglas-fir leaves and twigs in medicine.
Key Use: Air freshener and breathing tonic.
Interesting Information/Science Abstract: Dripping pitch from the trunk of a Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) in northern Montana. Conifers such as this ignite like a torch during a fire storm due to the combustible terpene oleoresins.
Abundant resin ducts throughout the trunk and branches of healthy trees is vital to survive freezing winters and to retard the invasion of bark beetle larvae. During prolonged summer drought conditions, stressed trees produce less resin and are more vulnerable to bark beetles. In fall of 2003, this drought stress was especially evident throughout mountainous areas of San Diego County where thousands of pines were dying.
Contradictions: Caution use of conifer oils on children under 5 years.
Safety Precautions: Dilute as needed. No known precautions.
Patch Test: If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in an vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64.
Harman, Ann. Harvest to Hydrosol, 1st edition, 2015, IAG Botanics
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. North Atlantic Books. 2000:
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose .2015 edition. San Francisco, California
Scientific Data: In 1994 a Comparative Investigation of Douglas Fir Headspace found
DISCLAIMER: This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©