Western red cedar tree medicinal uses, side effects and photos

Red cedar tree is a majestic, flat-topped tree which grows up to 130 feet in height. It has dark green, needle-like leaves and oval cones. The cones are a ½ inch long with 8-12 scales. The wood is even-grained and aromatic. In this article, we will talk about western red cedar medicinal uses.

Western red cedar tree medicinal uses, side effects and photos

It resists decay and termites. The bark is grey to red in color. The leader is dropping, and the base is wide and buttressing. You see it grow singly or in small groves. Simple round, yellow flowers give the tree a golden-yellow color.

The favorite habitat of the red cedar is moist or swampy soil. You find it in shady forests at elevations from sea level to 1350 meters. The diameter of the largest trees is up to 19 feet in diameter and height as much as 200 feet.

Common name

The common names include western red cedar, pencil cedar, Virginia juniper, Juniperus Virginiana, Pacific redcedar, giant or western arborvitae, giant cedar, or shinglewood and aromatic cedar.

Botanical name or family of Western red cedar

The botanical name of this plant is Thuja plicata. It belongs to the Cupressaceae family.

Geological places where Western red cedar tree grows

It is a native to Northern America. You can find this tree growing in Montana, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah, in the United States. It also grows natively in the southwest Turkey Mountains.

Western red cedar medicinal uses for treating diseases

Antipyretic effect

you can bring down fevers using the red cedar. An infusion of the seeds and twigs finds use in the treatment of fevers. The various red cedar extracts have immune-stimulating effects.

Good for relieving respiratory ailments

You can treat all sorts of respiratory ailments with cedar extracts. It treat sore throats, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, infections, and coughs with a variety of decoctions.

Make a decoction of Western red cedar leaves to treat colds. When faced with coughs, colds and tuberculosis prepare a decoction with the small branches. For infections, we make a decoction of the stem tips and the roots.

Helps augment oral health

One may chew the leaf buds to treat toothaches and sore lungs. Since the old times, people used a decoction of the buds as a gargle.

Thuja plicata leaves, flower, bark and fruits

It promotes stomach health

The red cedar helps stabilize the stomach. You can make an infusion of the leaves to get relief from diarrhea and stomach pain.

Treat skin problems

If you have problems with the skin such as boils, ringworm, and other fungal skin infections you can use the paste of the bark. You can cauterize sores and relieve swellings by using the shredded bark.

For carbuncles, use a poultice of the inner bark while an infusion of the inner bark finds use as a counter-irritant for the skin. You can make dressings to cover and bind wounds with the very soft bark.

You can also pound the bark into a powder and then use to apply on the face to augment the health of the facial skin.

Heart and kidney health

The red cedar tree has a good medical value that augments the health of the heart. It also supports the kidney. You can use an infusion of the bark and twigs to treat kidney complaints.

Good for women complaints

You can use the bark to treat menstrual disorders. You can make a decoction of the bark or chew the bark to induce menstruation.

Relief from pain and swelling

The decoction of the red cedar leaves helps relieve sore muscles. To get relief from arthritis or rheumatism, drink a weak infusion and the pain and swelling in your joints will disappear.

You can treat a variety of internal pains by applying the poultice of the leaves. Use a poultice of the crushed boughs along with the oil on the back and chest to treat bronchitis, rheumatism, and for swelling in the neck.

Treat sex organs, infections, and diseases

For treating various diseases of the sexual organs such as vaginitis and bladder irritation, prostate problems, incontinence, syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases use the decoction of the bark.

You can use an infusion of the twigs to wash and clean venereal disease sores so that you get immediate relief.

Medicinal value of the parts of the plant

The various preparations of the plant have good medicinal properties. They are antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant due to the presence of thujaplicin, the active chemical that gives the plant its medicinal properties.

The phagocytic activity in the human granulocytes gets enhanced by the action of the red cedar. The human granulocytes are an important class of white blood cells that fight fungal and bacterial infections.

Use it to treat dandruff

It helps improve scalp health. Use the decoction of the boughs to get relief from dandruff.

It shows strong antimicrobial action

The habitat of the red cedar plant is in the rainforest where the conditions are moist and cool. This is where the fungi and bacteria thrive. When you scratch the cedar leaves, you see that it releases strong essential oils. These oils stop the fungus, mould, insect, virus, and bacteria. So, you can use the leaves of the cedar plant to treat nail and skin fungus.

Get rid of warts

The strong antiviral property helps you get rid of warts. You can apply the cedar extract in the form of a salve, oil, or a tincture. Use it at least three times a week.

Side effects of red cedar tree

Western red cedar has many side effects.

  • Pregnant women should not use any form (external, internal, or aromatherapy) of the red cedar since it stimulates uterine contractions.
  • It can cause skin irritation. This action is like the action of poison ivy dermatitis. You feel this more when you use the oil.
  • Due to the high immunogenic effect of the extracts and oils of it, many people suffer from allergies to the tinctures, oils, infusions, and decoctions. To know what your reaction is to the extract or oil, apply it on a small area and then observe the reaction for a few days. Never use this on the wide expanse of your chest or back without testing.


While there are no direct harmful effects due to western red cedar, you may have a few people who show allergic reactions to extracts from this plant. Use western red cedar medicinal uses with caution and stop the use if you see any unwanted reaction.



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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of www.medicinalplantsanduses.com. He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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