The healing power of the western tree of life

The western tree of life is an evergreen conifer species from the cypress family. This tree was first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753. The tree normally grows to a height of 10 to 20 meters, but specimens of up to 30 meters have been found. The highest example of a western tree of life was found in the US on an island called South Manitoba, located in the state of Michigan. This tree was described by a French researcher in 1731. The tree was already nicknamed The Witch tree, or the sorceress tree. Incredibly, this tree is still alive and has now reached a height of 34 meters. This tree is originally only found east of the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Western tree of life leaf / Source: Joshua Mayer, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-2.0)


  • Naming
  • Traditional use western tree of life
  • Active substances
  • Thuja for the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract
  • For warts
  • Other medicinal uses
  • Safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist


In Latin, western tree of life is called Thuja Occidentalis . The tree got its name because it was used in many areas of life. The coconut palm is the tree of life of Polynesian and Melanesian cultures because this tree has dozens to hundreds of uses. The latter also applies to the thuja occidentalis or western tree of life. A tree of life is multifunctional in several areas of life.

Traditional use western tree of life

First of all, it can be noted that the leaves contain a lot of vitamin C; it cured scurvy. In times when people were at sea for months and did not eat fresh vegetables, this was an important fact. The Indians used this tree as one of the four trees in the medicine wheel. This tree was used for the south. The wood is used to make canoes, houses and furniture. The essential oil of this tree has many uses: it is a cleanser, disinfectant, hair care product, insecticide, linement or ointment, home spray against bacteria, insects and unpleasant odors and a gentle soap. The inner bark and soft twigs were used by the Indians to make a soup. Twigs were also made into tea to combat constipation and headaches. In the 19th century it was a widely accepted medicine for warts, ringworm and thrush, a form of oral mucosal inflammation with white spots on the tongue.

Active substances

The needles and young branches of the Western tree of life are used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following important active ingredients: essential oil with the monoterpenes thujone, isothujone and sabinene, the monoterpenols terpinen-1-ol-4, occidentalol and occidol, flavonglycosides, mucilages and tannins.

Thuja for the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract

Thuja is a medicine that is not without danger. The dose that produces medicinal results is very close to the dose that produces unpleasant side effects. Therefore, the use of tree of life has been almost completely abandoned. In the past it was used to dissolve mucus. It was a drug that treats an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the airways. By the way, the essential oil of western tree of life can still be used for this purpose.

For warts

A tincture or a drop of essential oil is put on warts to make them disappear faster. For this purpose, apply it to the wart in the morning and evening. Warts are caused by viruses of the human papillomavirus type. Thujo works against this virus so that the cause of warts is removed. In practice, it appears that it is particularly effective on small warts, while no effectiveness has been found for larger ones.

Thuja Occidentalis or Western Tree of Life / Source: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Other medicinal uses

  • Thuja has a diaphoretic property and in this way helps to sweat out a fever.
  • This medicinal plant has an emmenagogue effect; it helps promote menstruation.
  • Tree of life has a diuretic or diuretic effect.
  • Thuja has worm-killing properties.
  • Thuja can also be used for fungal infections of the skin and nails.
  • It is also a rub for rheumatism and gout.


Internal use has been almost completely abandoned. If it is desired, supervision from a herbal therapist is necessary. Under no circumstances can it be used during pregnancy. Thujone is the active substance that causes poisoning in too high concentrations. The liver tissue can be seriously damaged. Further symptoms of a thujone overdose include:

  • Tremors.
  • Convulsions,
  • Kidney damage,
  • Hallucinations,
  • Brain damage,
  • Coma,
  • Death.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.