Thuja Essential Oil

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Thuja oil is extracted from Thuja occidentalis of the Cupressaceae family and is also known as swamp, white, northern white, eastern white cedar, cedar leaf, tree of life and American arborvitae.

Oil properties

Thuja oil has a camphoraceous, fruity aroma.

Origin of Thuja

This native of North America is a slow growing, narrow conifer with orange-brown bark and tiny, scale-like leaves that turn bronze in winter and have an apple scent when crushed.

Flowers consist of minute black male cones and erect yellow-green ovoid female cones that turn brown and pendulous when ripe.

Thuja was used as incense by ancient civilizations. A decoction of the leaves has been used for coughs, fever, intestinal parasites, venereal diseases and cystitis, while an ointment made of it has been used for rheumatism, gout and warts.

Thuja oil contains thujone which is toxic and constitutes a neurotoxin which can lead to spasms, convulsions, diarrhea and gastro-enteritis.

A herbal infusion of the twigs may produce abortion by reflex action on the uterus from severe gastro-intestinal irritation.


Thuja oil is extracted from the fresh leaves and twigs by steam distillation.

Chemical composition

The main chemical components of Thuja oil are a-thujone, b-thujone, a-pinene, camphene, d-sabinene, fenchone, camphone, terpinen-4-ol and bornyl acetate.


Thuja oil should not be used in aromatherapy and it may cause an abortion by reflex uterine contractions.

Therapeutic Properties

The therapeutic properties of Thuja oil is used for respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis, bacterial skin infections, and cold  sores. It is also used for painful conditions including osteoarthritis and a nerve disorder that affects the face called trigeminal neuralgia



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