An introduction to thuja oil, one of the most popular Native American remedies

Thuja oil, known to Native Americans as arbor vitae – meaning tree of life – was used by the continent’s first inhabitants to treat a multitude of problems, including coughs, fevers, menstrual complaints, headaches and other types of pain. Though this essential oil is not particularly well known, it is worth learning more about because it offers an impressive range of health benefits, including in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis, skin problems, nasal congestion and emotional well-being, among others. Thuja’s potent antibacterial, antifungal and other properties make it well worth investigating.

The history of thuja

As reported by Doctors Health Press, two of the five species of thuja originate in North America, while the other three are indigenous to Asia. The thuja tree is also known as the yellow cedar, northern white cedar, false white cedar, white cedar and swamp cedar.

In addition to use in the making of canoes, baskets and perfumes by the peoples of North and South America, thuja oil was also used by the ancient Egyptians for embalming the dead and as an ornamental tree in beautiful old European gardens.

As far back as 200 years ago, thuja was a popular remedy for bronchitis, rheumatism, uterine cancer and as an antidote to the adverse effects of the smallpox vaccine.

The health benefits of thuja

To create homeopathic thuja, the leaves and twigs of a one-year-old Thuja occidentalis tree are chopped and macerated in alcohol, then filtered, diluted and shaken vigorously (succussed). Homeopathic thuja has a sweet fragrance similar to that of eucalyptus, and its major chemical components include camphene, camphone, alpha pinene, alpha thujone, beta thujone and terpineol.

Thuja has been found to be effective in the treatment of a number of health conditions. Healthy Focus lists some of these treatments, including:

Breast cancer: A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Oncology found that homeopathic thuja disrupted the cellular division of breast cancer cells in lab tests. Lead author Dr. Moshe Frenkel noted, “We were quite impressed to find that homeopathic remedies have similar effects to chemotherapy on breast cancer cells but without affecting normal cells, a very exciting finding.”

Rheumatism and arthritis: Thuja essential oil is an effective treatment for arthritis and rheumatism and can be diluted with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil and then massaged directly onto painful muscles and joints. Since it assists the body to rid itself of toxins like uric acid, it is also an effective treatment for conditions like gout.

Skin conditions: Thuja’s astringent and antibacterial properties make it a useful treatment for skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis.

Nasal congestion and respiration: Though it is necessary to take care when inhaling thuja oil, its potent expectorant properties make it a good choice for the relief of congestion and to ease breathing by loosening the phlegm and mucus which can cause respiratory difficulties.

Menstrual issues: Thuja assists with menstrual problems like fatigue, abdominal pain and bloating, and can be inhaled or diffused to ease the mood swings associated with “that time of the month.”

Acute prostatitis: The symptoms of this serious bacterial infection of the prostate gland, considered a medical emergency, can be eased or reversed with the use of several herbs, including thuja. Two to five drops of a fresh tincture (1:2) should be taken every four hours for acute inflammation of the prostate gland, alternating every two hours with the herb Pulsatilla.

Impotence and other male reproductive issues: Thuja is effective at combating stress-related impotence and is successful in the treatment of several other male reproductive problems.

Learn more about the powerful healing abilities of plants like thuja at

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