Brew Sacred Cedar Tea And Reap Powerful Health Benefits (2022)

Apothecary

Sourcing cedar is as easy as stepping outside your doorstep. Discover the remarkable health properties of this ordinary tree.

Brew Sacred Cedar Tea And Reap Powerful Health Benefits (1)

Apothecary is a series focusing on natural remedies produced or grown wild in local habitats. Influences come from family and Indigenous practices centered on improving physical, mental health, and well-being.

Behind our family property at Rice Lake, Southern Ontario, lies a magical coniferous forest with trails to walk or cross country ski. And growing along the path are the aromatic cedar trees, majestic and teaming with life. Over the last season, my Mom and I have come to learn, the cedar we pass every day on our woods walks possesses incredible health benefits and is ‘steeped’ in the local traditions of our Indigenous neighbors.

How to Correctly Identify Canadian Cedar Trees

Brew Sacred Cedar Tea And Reap Powerful Health Benefits (2)

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Cedar, in Canada, refers to evergreen conifers (genus Thuja) of the cypress family (Cupressaceae). They are also called arbor vitae [Latin, “tree of life”]. Arborvitae is any of the five species of the genus Thuja, resinous, evergreen ornamental, and timber conifers of the cypress family, native to North America and eastern Asia. The tree under discussion is therefore botanically classified as a cypress, but commonly referred to (mistakenly) as a White Cedar. This article therefore ONLY refers to Thuja occidentalis

Traditionally the genus Cupressus is used medicinally in rheumatism, whooping cough, and styptic problem (Kuiate et al., 2006). It eliminates fluid retention and is used to promote venous circulation to the kidney and bladder area, to improve bladder tone (Thukral et al., 2014).

True cedars belong to the coniferous genus Cedrus (pine family) and are found from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas. Six species of Thuja are recognized: 2 in North America; 4 in eastern Asia. Western red cedar (T. plicata), found along the BC coast and western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, may attain 60 m in height, and 3 m in diameter. Eastern white cedar (T. occidentalis), growing to 25 m, occurs in the Great Lakes-St Lawrence forest region. The Asiatic species, T. orientalis, is often planted as an ornamental.

The Indigenous History of Canadian Cedar

In the book The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, authors Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley discuss the historical context of cedar from an Indigenous point of view:

Cedar is a sacred tree and, like sweetgrass and tobacco, is part of many ceremonies. It’s used to purify homes, in sweat-lodge ceremonies, and as a medicine.

Our home is close to the Indigenous reservation of the Ojibwa people. Cedar plays a central role in history, and current-day lives with the Ojibwa way of life and holds provenance within the cultures of other North American tribes.

According to the KBIC Health System, Cedar is considered one of the four sacred medicines with many practical uses in Indigenous life:

Like sage and sweetgrass, cedar is used to purify the home. It also has many therapeutic medicinal purposes. Cedar baths are healing. When cedar is put in the fire with tobacco, it crackles. When it does this, it is calling the attention of the spirits to the offering that is being made. Cedar is used in fasting and sweat lodge ceremonies as a form of protection: cedar branches cover the floor of the sweat lodge, and a circle of cedar surrounds the faster’s lodge.

What Traditional Health Benefits are Abscribed to Canadian Cedar

Joseph Pitawanakwat, a resident of the Wikwemikong First Nation, teaches about hundreds of medicinal plants in 200 Indigenous communities and institutions. On his YouTube Channel, Creators Garden, Joseph recently spoke of the many health benefits of cedar:

  • The tree holds a significant purpose in detoxification, stimulating the lymphatic system.
  • It plays a vital role in fat absorption and transportation and therefore utilization. Great as an accompaniment for ketogenesis, and keto diets, fasting protocol, and cardiovascular exercise.
  • The tea can lower chronic low-grade inflammation, the aging process's primary drivers, and nearly every chronic disease.

Continuing with Indigenous traditions, Kim Wheatley, an Anishinaabe Ojibway Grandmother from the Shawanaga First Nation Reserve, prepares a hot cup of giishik or cedar Tea and shares the different benefits in the following Everyday Wellness video.

Other commonly ascribed health benefits include:

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  • An aid for respiratory conditions and clear phlegm and other breathing difficulties accompany colds and flu.
  • The prevention of scurvy.
  • Considered a natural diuretic and includes the active compounds cedrol, beta-cedrene, and thujopene.

Does Modern Science support these claims?

To address this, let’s examine the major components of T. occidentalis Essential Oil (EO), namely monoterpenoid ketones α‐thujone (69.8%), β‐thujone (9.5%), and fenchone (7.8%). The monoterpenoid alcohols terpinene‐4‐ol and p‐cymene‐8‐ol, and the diterpenoid beyerene are only present in low amounts (< 3.0%).

We can address fenchone first. It has recognized and clinically validated medicinal value, promoting the healing of wounds, According to the study, performed on rats, researchers found;

The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities of fenchone and limonene oil increased collagen synthesis and decreased the number of inflammatory cells during wound healing and may be useful for treating skin wounds.

Fenchone has proven anti-fungal properties and shown in clinical trials to reduce tumor volume, mass, and total viable cancer cells (in rats). Research showed the following;

EOM (100 or 150 mg/kg) and fenchone (60 mg/kg) reduced all analyzed parameters (tumor volume and mass, and total viable cancer cells). Survival also increased for the treated animals with EOM and fenchone. For EOM 150 mg/kg and 5-FU treatment, most cells were arrested in the G0/G1 phase, whereas for fenchone, cells arrested in the S phase, which represents a blockage in cell cycle progression.

It should be noted in terms of toxicology from the above clinical trial that fenchone induced a decrease of AST and ALT, suggesting liver damage in the test subjects.

Studies are ongoing on the effects of the main active compound. thujone, which is a compound used in absinth and has purported hallucinogenic properties. In veterinary science, the application of a topical cream for horses has been shown to produce anti-carcinogenic effects on cancer tumors and the plant is widely used in the treatment of animals.

There may as yet be additional undiscovered actions, as the White Cedar and its oil has only been assessed for its safe use as an antimicrobial and as an insect repellant. It is utilized in these two fields because as an airborne agent or topical application, it has a demonstrated safety profile for humans.

Thujone is classified as a terpenoid, a natural toxin produced by many plant species e.g. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), Sage (Salvia officinalis), and more. Its inclusion in food as a flavoring and preservative is heavily regulated in the West and in Europe.

Thujone interacts with the GABA receptors and is thus important in the regulation of stimuli in our neural system. This mechanism is most known for Absinth where thujone is the active compound suspected for causing hallucinations and great inspiration for the artists around 1900 in Europe.

Western Red Cedar needles contain the most Thujone among the plant species known to contain this compound. According to a report published in Springer;

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Based primarily on in vitro experiments, genotoxicity and carcinogenic properties of thujones have also been detected in parallel with antimutagenic and immune-modulatory effects. Some of the controversial effects seem to be strongly dose-dependent. Data on antidiabetic and antimicrobial activities of thujones may show new ways to use them.

Our Conclusion

There is definite scientific evidence of the impact of the White Cedar’s active compounds on many of the body’s systems traditional healers claim it affects. Further study is required to validate initial findings and to establish safe dosage.

Brewing Instructions

Sheila initially cut small sprigs of cedar and placed them inside a tea ball to steep in boiled water. The results were subpar, and the tea was weak in flavor. We have since changed our preparation to mimic the following easy instructions provided by Jill Taylor, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based in Kitchener, Ontario, from BlissfulVitality.ca:

  1. Collect 2 cups of fresh cedar leaves — do not use the bark.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of fresh filtered water to a boil. Add the cedar leaves to the water and allow to simmer.
  3. After 10 to 15 minutes, strain the cedar leaves out of the water, which will now be a beautiful gold shade.

Drink and enjoy!

Small doses are best and consider drinking the tea when required. We do not recommend exceeding a cup a day!

Brew Sacred Cedar Tea And Reap Powerful Health Benefits (4)

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Personal Testimonial

After discovering the broad spectrum of health benefits from our Indigenous neighbors, our family started 1 cup of cedar tea daily from the fall of 2020 onward.

Brew Sacred Cedar Tea And Reap Powerful Health Benefits (5)

From the first moment I touched my lips to the mug and drank in the rich aroma of cedar, I fell in love. The stronger, the better. I can almost visualize the health benefits occurring in my organs and cellular level. If you prefer the cedar scent in your washroom and are reminded of the Pine-sol cleaning brand, you may struggle with the taste. And if you find the flavor overpowering, consider sweetening the tea with wild, local honey or maple syrup.

Resources

Credit to my Mom, Sheila Beasley, who continues to teach me the wonders and bounties of our natural world, a lifelong learner of the incredible health benefits sitting outside our doorstep.

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FAQs

What are the health benefits of cedar tea? ›

Cedar Benefits

Cedar is commonly used in teas as an anti-inflammatory and can help with respiratory organs. It can help with bronchitis, pneumonia, and rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be used as a smudge to remove negative energies or boiled in water to purify a space.

What happens if you drink too much cedar tea? ›

Whichever way you choose there is one thing you should remember: Cedar tea should never be drunk more than one cup per day. Cedar is a safe and very effective medicine, but its medicine will soon become poison if this one simple rule is avoided. Cedar contains Thujone which is toxic to the human body in large doses.

Is cedar tea good for kidneys? ›

It eliminates fluid retention and is used to promote venous circulation to the kidney and bladder area, to improve bladder tone (Thukral et al., 2014). True cedars belong to the coniferous genus Cedrus (pine family) and are found from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas.

How much cedar tea can you drink? ›

Cedar is a medicinal plant and has been used to treat fevers, chest colds, and flu-like symptoms. It also contains a large amount of vitamin C. But like everything, consuming too much of one thing is never good for your body. And in this case, it is recommended that you drink no more than 3 cups of cedar tea per week.

What is the spiritual meaning of cedar? ›

The evergreen cedar tree is a symbol of endurance, eternal life and immortality. One wouldn't be surprised to find out that ancient civilizations, particularly Egyptians, used cedar resin to mummify their dead.

How do you use cedar for healing? ›

The Cedar tree has many practical and medicinal uses. Cedar is offered to the sacred fire during sweat lodge ceremonies, burned during prayers and, when boiled, can purify indoor air and be used for cedar baths. As a tea, it can help to reduce fevers, rheumatic symptoms and relieve symptoms of chest colds and the flu.

Is cedar toxic to humans? ›

The Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata) and Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), also known as aromatic Cedar. Caution- Eastern Red Cedar is actually quite toxic if ingested. Be sure to know the difference between the two trees if you're planning to use for medicinal purposes.

Is cedar toxic to drink? ›

Warning: cedar contains Thujone, which can be toxic to the human body. It is recommended that a person drink no more than three cups of cedar tea per week.

Does cedar tea have caffeine? ›

Place 1 tea bag in a tea cup with boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes before drinking. This herbal tea is caffeine free.

How do you boil cedar tea? ›

Just simmer 2 cups of fresh cedar in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes until the water becomes a golden color. Strain off the cedar and sweeten with maple syrup, to taste. From The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley.

Can you drink red cedar tea? ›

Cedar is a medicinal plant and has been used to treat fevers, chest colds, and flu-like symptoms. It also contains a large amount of vitamin C. But like everything, consuming too much of one thing is never good for your body. And in this case, it is recommended that you drink no more than 3 cups of cedar tea per week.

What is cedar used for? ›

Cedar wood tends to be used for its natural beauty, which means it isn't typically hidden in the framing of a construction project. With this visual appeal, cedar lends itself to be used in many applications like fencing, decking, siding, and trim.

Is cedar tea an antiviral? ›

Cedar has been used for centuries by the Indigenous People of North America as a sacred medicine. Due to it's healing properties, Cedar has been used for decades as an antiseptic, anti fungal, antiviral, air purifier and all round immune boosting compound.

Are cedar leaves toxic? ›

Cedar leaf oil is made from some types of cedar trees. Cedar leaf oil poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance. Young children who smell the oil may try to drink it because it has a sweet smell.

Can you eat cedar? ›

Some varieties of Cedar are completely food-safe and will give your food a delicious smoky flavor, but others won't impart any flavor (and can even be poisonous). Make sure you're aware of the different wood varieties to ensure you're only cooking with the safe and flavorful species of Cedar.

What are the five trees in the Bible? ›

Fig, olive, oak, palm and green bay can bring a little bit of the Bible into your backyard.

What does the name cedar mean? ›

Cedar is a gender-neutral name of Latin origins, meaning “cedar tree.” Like its Oak, Ash, and Pine cousins, the Cedar tree has a meaning that roots much deeper. The evergreen tree sports a distinctive spicy scent and symbolizes strength, resiliency, and longevity.

Is the cedar tree the tree of life? ›

The western redcedar is often referred to as “the cornerstone of northwest coastal Indian culture.” Among the names given this tree were “tree of life” and “life giver,” and some tribes called themselves “People of the Cedar.” Groves of ancient cedars were symbols of power, and gathering places for ceremonies, retreat, ...

Can children drink cedar tea? ›

Cedar leaves contain thujone, which can be toxic in large amounts, so stick to about 1 cup per week. Children 5 years or older can drink a weak preparation of this tea.

Where is cedar found? ›

cedar, any of four species of ornamental and timber evergreen conifers of the genus Cedrus (family Pinaceae), three native to mountainous areas of the Mediterranean region and one to the western Himalayas.

How do you take a cedar bath? ›

Fill your tub with warm bath water and add your Cedar water after tub is ready. Do not use soaps. Prepare yourself with a beautiful smudge – Either Sage or Sweetgrass. Enter the water and submerge your body completely – including your head and your hair.

Can cedar make you sick? ›

Cedar fever symptoms may include itchy, watery, red eyes; nasal congestion, runny nose and sinus pressure; sneezing; sore throat and fatigue. Despite its name, cedar fever doesn't cause a fever, but inflammation triggered by the allergic reaction may raise the body temperature slightly.

Can cedar oil make you sick? ›

Cedarwood oil is a mixture of organic compounds. It is considered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration. As a pesticide, it repels insects by a non-toxic mode of action.

What is cedar poisoning? ›

Cedar leaf oil is made from some types of cedar trees. Cedar leaf oil poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance. Young children who smell the oil may try to drink it because it has a sweet smell. This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure.

How do you infuse cedar? ›

Oil or Alcohol Base

Wash the glass jar and lid thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Fill the jar full with cedar leaves, berries and bark. Pour almond or grapeseed oil or vodka over the cedar until the jar is full. Screw the lid on and store in a cool dark place for a week.

Which cedar is edible? ›

According to the online publication American Forests ( Winter/Spring 2017), two species of cedars have an edible and nutritious inner bark. These are the eastern white cedar and the western red cedar, (Thuja plicata).

How do you make cedar bark tea? ›

How to make CEDAR TEA ☕️( From TREE to Tea in 5 simple steps)

Is cedar a juniper? ›

Eastern Red Cedar is very closely related to the Common Juniper, in fact they are in the same genus. The key obvious difference is that Juniper seldom grows as a tree, whereas Red Cedar nearly always does.

How do you boil cedar tea? ›

Just simmer 2 cups of fresh cedar in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes until the water becomes a golden color. Strain off the cedar and sweeten with maple syrup, to taste. From The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley.

Does cedar tea have caffeine? ›

Place 1 tea bag in a tea cup with boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes before drinking. This herbal tea is caffeine free.

Can red cedar be used for tea? ›

You can drink cedar tea by steeping a tablespoon of fresh or dried chopped cedar leaf per cup of cold water. Let steep several hours to overnight. Drink ¼ to ½ cup twice a day. Caution: Cedar contains strong volatile oils including thujone, a ketone that is known to be toxic in large quantities.

Can children drink cedar tea? ›

Cedar leaves contain thujone, which can be toxic in large amounts, so stick to about 1 cup per week. Children 5 years or older can drink a weak preparation of this tea.

Is cedar tea an antiviral? ›

Cedar has been used for centuries by the Indigenous People of North America as a sacred medicine. Due to it's healing properties, Cedar has been used for decades as an antiseptic, anti fungal, antiviral, air purifier and all round immune boosting compound.

What is cedar medicine? ›

The cedar medicine is so special to indigenous people, in native American smudging. Gather cedar to use the cedar medicine or cedar tree medicine to heal illnesses such as coughs, colds, and fevers. This plant medicine starts with proper cedar tree identification.

Can you freeze cedar tea? ›

You can freeze the needles in freezer bags, or dry them for later use. Just let them air dry at room temperature. I think this would make wonderful iced tea or infused water in the summertime!

Is cedar water safe to drink? ›

Usually, cedar water is not harmful. It may smell slightly strange, and it can have a dark appearance which is offputting, but it is not toxic or dangerous. However, it is usually a good idea to avoid drinking it, because it can upset the stomach.

What do you use cedar for? ›

Cedar Wood Uses

With this visual appeal, cedar lends itself to be used in many applications like fencing, decking, siding, and trim. Because of its aromatic smell and natural insect-repellent, some types of cedar can also be used in manufacturing dressers and other clothing storage.

Can you eat cedar? ›

Some varieties of Cedar are completely food-safe and will give your food a delicious smoky flavor, but others won't impart any flavor (and can even be poisonous). Make sure you're aware of the different wood varieties to ensure you're only cooking with the safe and flavorful species of Cedar.

Are cedar leaves toxic? ›

Cedar leaf oil is made from some types of cedar trees. Cedar leaf oil poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance. Young children who smell the oil may try to drink it because it has a sweet smell.

How do you make cedar bark tea? ›

How to make CEDAR TEA ☕️( From TREE to Tea in 5 simple steps)

How do you take a cedar bath? ›

Fill your tub with warm bath water and add your Cedar water after tub is ready. Do not use soaps. Prepare yourself with a beautiful smudge – Either Sage or Sweetgrass. Enter the water and submerge your body completely – including your head and your hair.

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