Thuja Effects, Thuja Use, Health Benefits

Explores the health benefits of Thuja Effects, Thuja use, comprehensive guide to herbal remedies.

Cedar trees in general have a long history of use for furniture and buildings as well as in various herbal remedies and aromatherapy preparations. According to the Old Testament, King Hiram of Tyre sent cedar wood from Lebanon to King Solomon for the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Cedar wood has also been used for centuries to line closets or make chests to protect clothing from moths. The fragrant wood was also used by Native Americans as well as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans as an ingredient in incense blends.

In Western herbal medicine, cedar leaf oil was used as an emmenagogue, abortifacient, vermifuge, diuretic, and digestive aid. It was applied externally to relieve the pains of arthritis and rheumatism, to treat external fungal infections of the skin (ringworm and thrush), and to remove anal or genital warts. Native Americans used cedar leaf preparations to relieve headache and to prevent scurvy. Cedar leaves and twigs are in fact rich in vitamin C, and it was their effectiveness in preventing or treating scurvy that led to the tree's being called arbor vitae or tree of life. In addition, recent research has shown that extracts prepared from either Thuja occidentalis or Thuja plicata do in fact have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. A group of German researchers reported in 2002 that an extract prepared from cedar leaf, alcohol, and water inhibits the reproduction of influenza virus type A, while a team of researchers in Japan found that an extract of Western red cedar was effective in treating eczema. Lastly, another group of Japanese researchers reported in 2003 that several compounds isolated from the stem bark of Japanese cedar appear to have significant antitumor activity.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the leaves and stems of Thuja orientalis are used to treat nervous disorders, insomnia, and heart palpitations, as well as to stop hemorrhages and bring down fevers. Traditional Chinese physicians also make a preparation of fresh cedar leaves steeped for seven days in a 60% alcohol solution to promote hair growth. The mixture is rubbed on the bald spots three times daily.

The homeopathic preparation known as Thuja is made from the leaves of Thuja occidentalis, and is given to treat soft or bleeding warts on the chin, genitals, or anus. The most widely used homeopathic materia med-ica, or reference book, also recommends Thuja for headaches that feel like a nail is being driven into the head; vertigo brought on by standing up; emotional depression and restlessness; pain or itching in the scalp; painful swallowing or a feeling of obstruction in the

throat; intense thirst at night or early in the morning; stomach cramps that are worse in the evening; difficulty in breathing combined with a violent thirst for cold water; frequent need to urinate, with frothy or cloudy urine; insomnia or restless sleep; or fever and chills that grow worse toward evening.

In aromatherapy, cedar leaf oil is classified as a base note, which means that it has a very long-lasting scent when added to a perfume or incense blend. One Canadian producer of essential oil advises, "… the scent is strong and should be used sparingly. One small application is all you need!" It is considered to have a sedative or calming effect, and is recommended for treating anxiety states as well as asthma, bronchitis, and head colds. Some aromatherapists also recommend cedar leaf oil for treating acne and dandruff.

Cedar leaf oil is still used in some mainstream over-the-counter (OTC) preparations to relieve congestion in the upper respiratory tract. The best-known of these cold remedies is Vicks VapoRub™, which can be applied directly to the chest and covered with a hot towel, or added to a vaporizer to produce fragrant steam. Cedar leaf oil is also added to pest repellant sprays and paints to protect against mites, moths, and rodents. It is used to scent some brands of shoe polish, and is blended into some men's colognes, including Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren's Safari.

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