Cedar As a Natural Healing Remedy

By Margot B

Cupressus nootkatensis [yellow cedar or ‘false cypress’]

This species goes by many common names including Cedar leaf oil, yellow cedar, swamp cedar, arborvitae, tree of life, white cedar and thuja; its scientific name is Thuja occidentalis. Its name derives from its discovery on the lands of a First Nation of Canada, the Nuu–chah–nulth of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, who were formerly referred to as the Nootka.Nootka Cypress, Yellow Cypress, and Alaska Cypress. Even though it is not a cedar, it is also sometimes confusingly called "Nootka Cedar", "Yellow Cedar", "Alaska Cedar", or "Alaska Yellow Cedar".

Cedar was the first tree in Creation and one of the most powerful medicines. Any user of alternative medicine is acquainted with the healing properties of the cedar tree. The tea of the twigs and branches is simmered until the water in the pot begins to turn brown. It is then used for fevers, rheumatic complaints, chest colds and flu.

Among Native people it is considered a sacred tree and they will not perform a ceremony without it. Like sage and sweetgrass, cedar is used to purify the home. It also has many restorative medicinal uses – cedar baths are healing; cedar is used for colds and other illnesses. Cedar is used in fasting and sweat lodge ceremonies as a form of protection: cedar branches cover the floor of the sweatlodge and a circle of cedar surrounds the faster's lodge.

It is important to realise that the medicinal qualities of cedar products are significantly higher in their natural state, without the negative influences associated with processing procedures. It is dried and burned as an incense because it harmonizes the emotions and put one in the proper state of mind for prayer. Cedar Tea and Cedar Baths are excellent for reducing turmoil as it is physically cleansing and brings a fresh air to the sufferer which lessens the resistance to needed change. Its application as a prophylactic is especially recommended to people subject to serious physical and mental stress (e.g., soldiers, athletes, students and managers) – not to mention smokers – thanks to the accelerated formation of free radicals in their bodies. It is fully and totally effective in the healing of ailments related to the musculoskeletal system (in pre– and post–operational conditions), skin disorders, the locomotor apparatus, respiratory disorders, as well as the digestive and cardial systems.

The most common form that cedar is used is as an oil, which goes by many aliases: It is an extract from the cedar tree, which belongs to the cypress family of trees native to North America. The branches and leaves contain the chemical thujone, a hydrocarbon, used as an herbal remedy traditionally used by Native Americans for headaches, heart problems, menstrual regulation and rheumatism. Modern herbalists use it as an astringent, anti–inflammatory, cancer treatment, antiviral, detoxifier, and as a topical treatment for skin infections. Evidence is insufficient for internal use and is banned for consumption as a poisonous substance in America. It is also used in furniture polish, and fragrances. Do not use cedar oil unless your doctor approves.

Cedar is also, according to the Ayurvedics, an excellent treatment for dandruff, considered to be a soothing tonic to the skin, and is often used in men's perfumes and toiletries, particularly aftershave lotions.Urinary Tract: One of the benefits of all types of cedar oil, because of its antiseptic properties, is the ability to treat urinary–tract infections. Davis advises the use of cedar oil to treat cystitis and vaginal infections. Lawless also states that cedar oil was traditionally used to treat urinary-tract infections.

Cedar can be applied externally for extreme pain in muscles using the oil mixture warmed. Do not warm any herbal salves or infused oils in the microwave.

Juniper oil is distilled from the wood, twigs and leaves. The cones are used to flavor gin and as a kidney medicine.
You can use the ashes from burned Cedar externally as a very strong antiseptic. White Cedar is used most of the time but in the Southwest where I grew up there was not much flat cedar, so Juniper was used. In the Southeast Cypress was used since most Cedar is in the same family as Cypress.

Cedar can be used as an insect repellent. Stop and think about it. Why are things stored in a Cedar Chest? Because it is used to keep the bugs out. Cedar–lined storage chests and closets have long been used for long-term storage of out–of–season clothing, in the belief that the cedar will deter moths from destroying the clothing. The damage moths cause to natural fibers is caused not by the moth itself, but by the larvae that hatch out of the eggs the moth lays, preventing the moth from laying the eggs in the clothing, and killing the larvae as they emerge (or in the egg). The heavy scent of the cedar is thought to mask the smell of wool, effectively hiding it from the moth seeking a home for her eggs. That is, it doesn’t repel moths so much as it camouflages the moth’s natural target. If the smell–disguise in fact does deter moths, then any masking smell would work as well, and people have packed old garments away with sprigs of lavender, tansy and rosemary tucked in them for literally centuries.

If correctly prepared, it makes excellent English longbows, flatbows, and Native American sinew–backed bows. The wood is marketed as "eastern redcedar" or "aromatic cedar." The best portions of the heartwood are one of the few woods good for making pencils, but the supply had diminished sufficiently by the 1940s that it was largely replaced by incense-cedar.[9]


Insecticide: Cedar oil has strong insecticide properties. Lawless states that cedar oil extracted from the Juniperus virginiana species is an insect repellent, but she does not list insecticidal properties for cedar oil extracted from the Cedrus atlantica species. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that cedar oil is present in five registered pesticide products for insect repellent and depressants to reduce mildew growth and to control fleas and moths. It is believed that if you are sleeping outside and use Cedar in your bedding that snakes won’t come around.

Respiratory: Cedar oil is antiseptic, expectorant and mucolytic. Davis states that cedar oil breaks down mucus. Lawless states that cedar oil extracted from the Cedrus atlantica species has traditionally been used in Eastern cultures for bronchial infections and that Juniperus virginiana cedar oil was used by Native Americans to control excess catarrh.

Cedar oil also has a number of other benefits. Use cedar oil to rheumatic disorders, stress and wounds. Cedar oil is calming and a tonic. Each species of cedar oil varies slightly in its chemical components, which consequently affects the individual benefits of a particular cedar oil. However, in general, most cedar oils possess similar properties and benefits. The only wart treatment found in the literature was a statement that tincture of yellow cedar applied to warts will make them disappear. There are no specifications as to how long to leave the tincture on the warts or how many times to apply it.

Also, according to the Ayurvedics, cedar is an excellent treatment for dandruff, and is often used in men’s perfumes and toiletries, particularly aftershave lotions.

Cedar is bitter and pungent, with antiseptic, diuretic qualities. It is useful as a nervine and expectorant. Cedar has a heating, drying effect on the body. The astringent, tonic qualities in cedar make it an excellent antidote to oily skin, oily scalp, and dandruff. The actual par of the cedar tree that is used for its properties are the wood and bark.

Cedar is said to be excellent in treating many common conditions that the average person may suffer from on a day–to–day basis., such as bronchitis, urinary infections, fear and nervous tension, oily hair, hair loss, oily skin, dandruff, sensitive skin and acne, and used to correct sluggish menstrual cycles.

Wood and bark obviously cannot be used in its natural form to treat the above conditions. Cedar oil can be used to massage into sore muscles. Another way that cedar can be beneficial is when taken orally in a tea or infusion. Cedar is also commonly mixed with camphor and sandalwood mostly for their aromatic qualities.

Aside from cedars Ayurvedic healing qualities it is also commonly used for its very pleasant fragrance. Cedar is an excellent air freshener, deodorizer, and insect repellent. To use cedar as an air freshener, add cedar oil to water in an atomizer and spray the room with it. In order to use cedar as massage oil, add ten drops of the cedar oil to a tablespoon of vegetable oil. The oil mixture should then be used on all muscles or joints in the body that are sore or ache.

Haymes, Jr. E. Alternative Medicine: The Ins and Outs of Non–Traditional Healing 2009
Svoboda, Robert F. The Hidden Secret of Ayurveda 1996<br>
Tiwari, Maya Ayurveda: A life of Balance 1994

By Margot B


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