Cedar Leaf (Thuja occidentalis) - DRIED (Not fresh)
All our herbs come from certified organic sources or trusted wildcrafters.
ENGLISH COMMON NAME: Cedar leaf
Other Names: Thuja occidentalis, eastern white Cedar
Before sampling your first cup of delicious Cedar tea, we strongly recommend that you read this entire page, especially the section regarding precautions and contraindications.
Known as the Tree of Life, Cedar is revered by many cultures around the world and is a powerful symbol of strength and revitalization. Cedar, White Sage, Sweetgrass and Tobacco are considered the four most sacred plants to many of the Indigenous tribes on Turtle Island. Cedar is highly revered as a medicine of protection. The Cedar tree is believed to be an entrance to higher spiritual realms and is said to house important Spiritual allies. Thus, its wood was often used to construct the doors of sacred temples. Cedar has a long history of and continues to be used to make canoes, paddles clothing, baskets, totem pokes, masks, nets, fishing lines and cooking utensils.
Cedar is high in vitamin C, is anti-fungal, and extremely rot and insect resistant. Cedar can live for thousands of years and dead Cedar trees become “nurse trees” for new Cedar growth.
Cedar is commonly burned in cleansing ceremonies for purification and has a long history of use in indigenous Sweat Lodge ceremonies. It is also used to cleanse the home, especially when first moving in, to invite unwanted spirits to leave, and to protecting a person, place or object from unwanted influences.
As with all herbal medicines, an offering to the Spirit of the Cedar tree should always be given before harvesting this sacred plant.
Cedar (Thuja) contains chemicals that might fight viruses. It also contains a chemical called thujone that can cause brain problems. For this reason, 1 cup of mild Cedar tea a day for no more than 5 days in a row, then stop for several days before resuming, is the maximum recommended. See Precautions & Contraindications listed below for more information before using this medicine.
Indigenous healers have used thuja for thousands of years in baths, teas and smudges to treat headaches, chronic cough, fever, gout, heart problems, menstrual issues, rheumatism, as wound dressings and more. It is also an effective insect repellent.
Today's herbalists also use thuja to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant), to boost the immune system (as an immunostimulant), to increase urine flow (as a diuretic), as an astringent, anti–inflammatory, cancer treatment, antiviral, detoxifier, and as a topical treatment for bacterial skin infections, including cold sores and warts, as well as respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis, sinusitis and congestion. Thuja has has also been used to treat painful conditions including osteoarthritis and a nerve disorder that affects the face called trigeminal neuralgia.
Burning Cedar cleanses the air and calms the spirit. When using Cedar as a smudge, exercise caution when smoke is produced. If any adverse symptoms occur (coughing or eye-watering, etc.) extinguish the product immediately and make sure the area is well-ventilated.
An alternative to smudging is to put a handful of leaves in a stainless steel or glass pot (do not use aluminum) with water and bring to a gentle simmer to release the oils into the air.
Normally leafy herbs are steeped by adding hot (not boiling) water and then steeping for a few minutes. However, Cedar leaf is a lot tougher than most herbs and requires a little extra work to release its essential oils. Place a handful of leaves in a stove-top safe glass or stainless-steel pot (do not use aluminum), add 5 or 6 cups of hot water, and then steep for a few extra minutes. If your Cedar tea becomes too strong, it will become toxic and should not be drunk. Instead, save it to add to your bath, or use it as a hair rinse. Cedar is especially good for oily hair. It purifies the scalp and regulates sebum production. It is also thought to strengthen and promote hair growth.
STORAGE: If your leaf is fresh, use it within a few days. To dry it, we recommend placing it on cardboard in a clean, dark, dry, airy place until the leaves start to feel crispy. This may take a couple of weeks. Then store in a paper bag, glass or earthenware container. (Do not use plastic)
Some herbs are best dried on a food dehydrator for faster storage and to reduce the risk of mold. However, if you choose this method for Cedar, note that some of the essential oils will be released and will harden on top of the leaf as it cools off. I have not found any research to indicate this is a bad thing, but my gut tells me that the heat of the dehydrator may result in the premature loss of some of the essential oils and their medicinal benefits, so here at Turtle Lodge Trading Post we have always chosen the slow dry method for Cedar.
Keep dry. Store in an airtight container in a dry cupboard away from light. Will keep for many years. Note that his product and the paper bag it comes in are highly flammable. Use with caution.
PRECAUTIONS & CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Use at your own risk. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have allergies, or are on any medications. Although most herbs are generally safe, it is recommended that you avoid self-prescribing especially when there is an underlying ongoing medical condition.
Cedar is a strong astringent. Be sure to drink plenty of water while using Cedar as part of your health protocol.
Thuja should not be taken by pregnant women as it has been known to cause miscarriage. Women who are breastfeeding should also avoid thuja due to possible toxicity.
Thuja is considered to be likely safe when taken as a mild tea (in "food amounts"), but there isn't enough scientific research information to verify if it is safe when used in medicinal quantities (as an infusion). Caution should be taken because an overdose of thuja has been found to cause queasiness, vomiting, painful diarrhea, asthma, seizures, and, in extreme cases, even death.
Thujone can also cause low blood pressure. Don't take thuja if you have a history of having seizures or are on medication for low blood pressure.
Also avoid using use Thuja if you have an auto-immune disease, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions. Thuja can increase the activity of the immune system, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Taking thuja along with some medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) might decrease these medications' effectiveness. Speak with your health provider to check your medications and let them know if you are plan to take thuja.
This information is for educational purposes only, has not been evaluated by Health Canada, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
NOTE: Extrapolated from an article in the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science …suggests that there may be a synergistic effect of using the “whole plant”, and that “Cedar leaf oil has potential applications in the control of viral respiratory infections”.
Health Canada: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=170&lang=eng