Herb of the Month: Western Red Cedar with Herbalist Cara Green

Oh, the ancient Western Red CedarWestern Red Cedar, or Thuja Plicata, is an evergreen coniferous tree that is native to North America and a defining landmark of the Pacific Northwest.

This tree has aromatic, vibrant green leaves and complimentary red-brown bark; sure to stand out during any season. This magnificent cedar tree towers over landscapes and reaches anywhere from 120 to 200 feet in height. It is also one of the oldest trees in the Pacific Northwest forests. Some Western Red Cedars in old growth forests are over 1,400 years old! Western Red Cedar is also known as “Giant Arborvitae” which translates to “Tree of Life."  Western Red Cedar seeds are eaten by some birds, while deer and elk consume foliage and twigs. Small mammals use the hollowed cavities or decaying trunks as the most magical fairytale dens and nests you will ever see.

Western Red Cedar is an extremely important tree to Northwest Coastal Native Peoples, as it provided for them from birth until death. Northwestern Coastal tribes rarely ever cut down Western Red Cedar trees, but rather harvested sections of wood from standing trees. This wood was used to build long houses that shelter, cradle boards that carry, canoes that travel and totems that represent deep cultures. Women harvested the bark that was used to create baskets, tools, clothing, medicine and so much more. 

Western Red Cedar is anti-fungal, antibacterial, and can be used for treating coughs, fevers and rheumatism. Both bark or leaf can be used for medicinal purposes. Western Red Cedar is highly concentrated in volatile oils, making it great to burn as incense or boil within the home to purify the air. Because of its oil content, Cedar is also a great addition to infuse into cleaning products. However, due to the volatile oils contained in Western Red Cedar, this plant should be used with caution when taken internally and it is not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Any internal use of the plant is through low dosage, and should be used with the guidance of a doctor or practitioner. 

Western Red Cedar is grounding medicine for our bodies. As our limbs extend in many directions during the holiday seasons, when we are stretching far and wide for the smallest rays of light on rainy days, when we are feeling burdened by the shadowed time of year, find comfort in our friend Western Red Cedar. Far beneath the dirt that lies beneath our feet, this tree roots itself strongly amidst the cycles of time and changes of seasons. Expanding from its roots, Western Red Cedar's strong trunk extends hundreds of feet into the sky to teach us of strength within stillness. This hearty tree offers protection physically and energetically, and cleanses us, too. Our modern western society may not be within such close communion with this beautiful medicine daily in the year 2021, which means it is ever more important to start working with Western Red Cedar more intimately. Next time you meet the Tree of Life, be sure to take a moment to admire this magnificent beauty. Hold your palms to the trunk of the tree, close your eyes and embrace the wisdom of this mighty giant. 

 Rooted Protection Bath Salts with Western Red Cedar

Directions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients into a jar and mix well.
  2. Add 1/2 cup into hot bath.
  3. Soak for at least 15-20 minutes and soothe your soul with this grounding and brightening blend.

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