+ Family / Subfamily: Cupressaceae
+ Genus: Thuja
+ Species: Thuja occidentalis et al
+ Names: Thuja, Arborvitae, Lebensbaum, Scheinzypresse
Thuja may derive from the latin word for “desinfecting” or from Greek thuo, meaning “sacrifice”.
Arborvitae is the last herb, the midwife recommended to me – however, not in physical form (which would be poisonous) but as a homeopathic remedy for our son, who was about to get his first vaccinations. Arborvitae is rich in vitamin C and it is employed in homeopathy and aromatherapy, for grounding, strengthening the self and the immune system and for regaining life force.
Thuja oil is won through steam distillation of the twigs. It contains a.o. thujone (>50%), camphor, pinene and fenchene. It smells camphorous, fresh and tangy. About 55 kg plant yield 1 l essential oil. It acts antiviral and antibacterial and is part of pharmaceutical cleaning and desinfection solutions. It is also abirritant and as such contained in analgesic cremes and salves. Thuja oil is also contained in toiletries and perfume. It is applied externally for treating soar throats and warts. It is used internally against rheumatism, mucous congestion, enlarged prostate gland and acts anthelminthic and diaphoretic.
Caution: Thuja contains high amounts of poisonous thujone, which is a neurotoxine that causes convulsions and gastroenteritis and acts abortifacient. Thuja should hence not be used without consulting a doctor.
Merely touching the leaves can cause skin irritation. Besides this, there are frequent cases of poisoned grazing livestock that accidentally ate thuja clippings.
Thuja wood is soft, aromatic, light in weight and resistant to decay. It is used for garden poles, rails, shingles, guitar sound boards and bee hives. Furniture made from thuja wood repels moths. Thuja plicata is an important tree to the First Nations people of the Pacific Northwest and is sometimes called “Canoe Tree” because of its use as a material for Native American canoes.
In parks and Gardens:
There are 8 known species in the genus Thuja, all of which are planted as ornamental trees and hedges in parks, gardens and cemeteries. They are also a popular privacy tree among home owners, since thujas grow fast and are easily pruned. However, thujas require constant water supply or at least a shaded spot. Due to climate change, withered thuja hedges are becoming a frequent sight in European household gardens. If not pruned regularly, the inside of the tree becomes bare and does not turn green anymore.
Not to be confused the Atlas Cedar from Lebanon or the Common Cypress.
Magical and spiritual attributions:
Jupiter + Saturn herb, cleansing, protection, introspection, inner journey