Cedar-Thuja Plicata, Cedrus Atlantica, Cedrus Libani, Cedrus Brevifolia, Cedrus Deodorata, Juniperus Virginiana, Juniperus Mexicana
Also known as: Cedrium, cedarwood, cedar, cedrus
Parts Used: Bark, berries, sprays/needles
Meridians/Organs Affected: urinary, pulmonary, skin, hair, kidneys
Properties: antiseptic, antifungal, stimulant, tonic, insecticide, aromatic, expectorant, diuretic, anodyne, aphrodisiac, anti-anxiety, emmenogogue, anti-inflammatory, digestive, antibacterial, astringent
There are several different varieties of cedar and also several different opinions as to which one is the best to use for medicinal purposes. There are a few varieties of cedar here in the states. One is more commonly called red cedar or Juniperus Virginiana. It can get up to 100 feet tall and is found primarily east of the Rocky Mountains. The oil is obtained from the cones and the heartwood of the tree through distillation. It has a balsamic scent and looks yellow or orange when distilled.
Juniperus Mexicana also known as Texas cedarwood gets about 21 feet tall and can be found in Mexico, Central America and the southwestern united states. It has a dark orange to brown oil that is made from the needles and branches of the tree. It has a sweet woodsy scent.
The Atlas cedar grows in North Africa on top of the Atlas Mountains. It can also reach 100 feet in height. The oil is obtained from the steam distillation of the sawdust and wood chips. The oil is a nice yellow honey color and has a soft woodsy pine-like scent.
There are actually 4 true species of cedar. They are coniferous, evergreen trees that are known for their hardiness and long life. The 'true' cedars are the Atlas cedars which are native to the Atlas mountains of Morocco, the Cyprus cedars, the cedars of Lebanon found in Syria and SE Turkey and the Deodorata cedar in the western Himalayas. The needles of true cedars are bunched and yellow male flowers appear in the summer followed in the fall by the females after the pollen is gone. The cones take 2 years to come to maturation and then die off as the seed is released.
There is a grove of cedars in Lebanon that have been there since King Solomon's time. The first cedar planted in Britain was done in 1646 and is still there today. There is also a forest of cedars in Provence, France that have been there since 1862.
Cedars are the most often mentioned tree in the Bible, symbolizing abundance and fertility. The Egyptians used it as part of their embalming process and as part of 'mithridat' which was an antidote for poisoning for centuries. Dioscoredes and Galen referred to it as 'cedrium' and often used the resin to keep the body from putrefaction. Nicholas Lemery alsso used it for that but also would use it as an antiseptic for pulmonary and urinary issues. In 1925, Dr's. Gilbert and Michel used it for chronic bronchitis with great results. It has been used for eczema, dermatitis, alopecia, dandruff and as a sexual stimulant.
Cedar wood, cedar shavings and cedar oils have been used for eons as a moth repellant and in potpourri. They have also used cedar planks for smoking meats. It is one of the oldest components that was originally used as a perfume. Noah is supposed to have used it as incense to show his gratitude after the flood. The Tibetans also use it for incense in their temples as well as using it medicinally.
The Egyptians also used it to build their sarcophages-many of which are over 3000 years old and still in pristine condition. They also used it to build furniture and ships, in cosmetics, incense, perfumes and to repel insects. The papyri was also covered in cedarwood oil to preserve it. For thousands of years cedar has also been used to line closets, drawers and shelves and to protect clothes and belongings from insects and moths.
The native americans used cedar for skin rashes, rheumatism, respiratory problems, kidney infections, arthritis, gonorrhea, menstrual difficulties and tuberculosis. It is an expectorant so has been used for coughs, mucous build up and sinus congestion. Cedarwood oil promotes urination as well so helps with prostate problems and urinary tract infections, cystitis and urethritis. As it is also an antifungal it may be beneficial for candida. Cedarwood is also good to help with problems involving nervousness or anxiety. It can ease fear, stress, help to stabilize energy levels, diffuse anger and aggression, stimulate hair growth on the scalp, help fight dandruff and excessive sweating.
The Moroccan cedarwood oil is considered the best to use for medicinal purposes, but all cedars are medicinal. It is not recommended for internal use (the oil) as it can cause nausea, burning sensations and thirst. Also many cedars are adulterated with other oils so perhaps that is one reason the Moroccan variety is deemed the best to use as it has remained a true cedar oil.
A tea made from the boughs has been used for sore throats, colds, diarrhea and coughs. The tea from the bark has been used for kidney complaints. Tinctures of cedar are used for ringworm, athlete's foot, nail fungus and jock itch. The red cedar tincture and tea have been used to help with sluggish respiratory, reproductive, urinary and digestive tracts. Chewing the green buds was often done to relieve toothaches. The steam has been used to induce labor in pregnant women and the oil from the needles has been used for hemorrhoids, warts, herpes simplex and fungal infections.
The bark is rather pliable and has been used by the native americans to make baskets, ropes, mats, blankets and clothing. The bark was pounded until it became fluffy and was used in mattresses, diapers and as sanitary pads. The wood was used to make bowls, cradle boards, canoes, masks, siding and roofing.
Cedar should not be used by pregnant women as it stimulates menstrual flow. The western red cedar grows in rich, moist soil in BC, Alberta, Montana and Idaho. It takes 29 pounds of cedar to produce 1 pound of oil.
As is customary for my posts, I am including links below for you perusal. May you use them as you deem necessary. Be healthy and be happy!