Cedar (Western Red)
Latin: Thuja plicata
Parts Used: Leaves primarily
Taste/Energetics: Spicy, stimulating, warming
Properties: Antifungal, antimicrobial, stimulating, expectorant, immunostimulating, emmenagogue, antispasmodic.
Actions: Cedar is the most important plant to coastal Native Northwest indigenous peoples and has been used for making clothing, baskets, bowls, plates, transportation (canoes), housing, and it is also highly revered as smudge and for its medicinal properties. Cedar does not break down easily due to a constituent thujaplicin which is antifungal. Becomes of this, cedar has long been used to make durable items that would normally break down in damp tulgy forests of the Northwest. Cedar is antimicrobial and stimulating to the bronchial passages and is useful for coughs, colds and and bronchitis. Its stimulating properties make it useful for improving circulation and menstrual flow. It is also useful externally for fungal infections such as ringworm and as a form of insect control.
In terms of mental health, cedar is quite a powerful ally. Smudging is one of the best ways of working with this plant by simply drying a few short branches and then bundling them together. The scent of this plant brings a feeling of quiet strength and grace. One can also add cedar (directly or via essential oil in a carrier) to baths for greater relaxation. Cedar has a strong beautiful presence that seems to wrap you in their arms, bringing greater peace when life feels overwhelming and troubled. One of the best ways to work with this tree is to simply go visit it and sit beneath its sweeping branches and feel its gentle powerful spirit.
Dosage: As an essential oil and tincture it carries thujone, a constituent known to be toxic at certain levels. Because of this one should be careful in its application and internal useage. As a tincture I recommend taking 1-5 drops for no more than three times a day for immune enhancement and for no more than about 5 days. Avoid where there is liver or kidney damage. As an essential oil, the thujone content can be caustic externally and should be offered in a carrier oil 10 drops to one ounce. Even then it can cause sensitivity and should be used in a limited way.
Contraindications: Avoid in pregnancy. For internal and external applications, use sparingly and carefully
Cedar monograph by Elise Krohn