THUJA

OTHER NAME(S):

American Arborvitae, Arborvitae, Cedar Leaf Oil, C&egrave;dre, C&egrave;dre Blanc, C&egrave;dre Blanc de l’Est, C&egrave;dre Blanc du Nord, C&egrave;dre Commun, Eastern Arborvitae, Eastern White Cedar, Hackmatack, Huile de Feuilles de C&egrave;dre, Northern White Cedar, Swamp Cedar, Thuga, Thuja, Thuja occidentalis, Thuya, Thuya du Canada, Thuya d’Occident, Tree of Life, White Cedar.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Thuja is a tree. The leaves and leaf oil are used as a medicine.

Thuja 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.

Some people use thuja to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant), to boost the immune system (as an immunostimulant), and to increase urine flow (as a diuretic). It has also been used to cause abortions.

Thuja is sometimes applied directly to the skin for joint pain, ostearthritis, and muscle pain. Thuja oil is also used for skin diseases, warts, and cancer; and as an insect repellent.

In foods and beverages, thuja is used as a flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, thuja is used as a fragrance in cosmetics and soaps.

How does it work?

Thuja contains chemicals that might fight viruses. It also contains a chemical called thujone that can cause brain problems.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Common cold. Research suggests that taking a specific product containing vitamin C and extracts of thuja, echinacea, and wild indigo (Esberitox) by mouth for 7-9 days improves cold symptom severity and overall well-being in people moderate cold symptoms.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Cold sores. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing vitamin C and extracts of thuja, echinacea, and wild indigo (Esberitox) by mouth reduces itchiness, tension, and pain people with cold sores.
  • Low white blood cell count (leukopenia). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing vitamin C and extracts of thuja, echinacea, and wild indigo (Esberitox N) by mouth in improves white blood cell counts in people with low numbers of white blood cells after having received chemotherapy for 6 months or less. However, it does not seem to improve white blood cell counts in people who received chemotherapy for longer time periods. Also, other research suggests that Esberitox N does not improve white blood cell counts when used by women receiving radiation treatment.
  • Nasal swelling (sinusitis). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing vitamin C and extracts of thuja, echinacea, and wild indigo (Esberitox) by mouth for 20 days improves nasal blockage and general well-being in people with sinusitis who are also taking antibiotics.
  • Sore throat (tonsillitis). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing vitamin C and extracts of thuja, echinacea, and wild indigo (Esberitox) by mouth for 2 weeks, along with the antibiotic drug erythromycin, reduces symptoms and improves well-being and recovery in people with tonsillitis better than taking erythromycin alone.
  • Stimulating immune function.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Skin infections.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Strep throat.
  • Abortions.
  • Arthritis.
  • Joint pain.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Skin diseases.
  • Cancer.
  • Warts.
  • Use as an insect repellent.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of thuja for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Thuja is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts, but there isn't enough information to know if it is safe when used in usual medicinal amounts. An overdose of thuja can cause queasiness, vomiting, painful diarrhea, asthma, seizures, and death.

Thuja products can contain a chemical called thujone. Thujone can cause low blood pressure, asthma, seizures, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s LIKELY UNSAFE to take thuja by mouth if you are pregnant. Thuja might cause a miscarriage.

It is also LIKELY UNSAFE to take thuja by mouth if you are breast-feeding because of possible toxicity. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Thuja might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using thuja.

Seizures: Taking thuja might cause seizures in some people. Don’t take thuja if you have a history of having seizures.

Interactions

Interactions?

Major Interaction

Do not take this combination

!
  • Medications that increase the chance of having a seizure (Seizure threshold lowering drugs) interacts with THUJA

    Some medications increase the chance of having a seizure. Taking thuja might cause seizures in some people. Taking medications that increase the chance of having a seizure along with thuja might increase the risk of having a seizure. Do not take thuja with medication that increases the chance of having a seizure.<br /> Some medications that increase the chance of having a seizure include anesthesia (propofol, others), antiarrhythmics (mexiletine), antibiotics (amphotericin, penicillin, cephalosporins, imipenem), antidepressants (bupropion, others), antihistamines (cyproheptadine, others), immunosuppressants (cyclosporine), narcotics (fentanyl, others), stimulants (methylphenidate), theophylline, and others.

  • Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants) interacts with THUJA

    Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Thuja may also affect chemicals in the brain. By affecting chemicals in the brain, thuja may decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.<br /> Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

The appropriate dose of thuja depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for thuja. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References

REFERENCES:

  • Elsasser-Beile, U., Willenbacher, W., Bartsch, H. H., Gallati, H., Schulte, Monting J., and von, Kleist S. Cytokine production in leukocyte cultures during therapy with Echinacea extract. J Clin Lab Anal. 1996;10(6):441-445. View abstract.
  • Gohla, S. H., Haubeck, H. D., Schrum, S., Soltau, H., and Neth, R. D. Activation of CD4-positive T cells by polysaccharide fractions isolated from the Cupressaceae Thuja occidentalis L. (Arborvitae). Haematol.Blood Transfus. 1989;32:268-272. View abstract.
  • Hauke, W., Kohler, G., Henneicke-von Zepelin, H. H., and Freudenstein, J. Esberitox N as supportive therapy when providing standard antibiotic treatment in subjects with a severe bacterial infection (acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis). A multicentric, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Chemotherapy 2002;48(5):259-266. View abstract.
  • Naser, B., Bodinet, C., Tegtmeier, M., and Lindequist, U. Thuja occidentalis (Arbor vitae): A Review of its Pharmaceutical, Pharmacological and Clinical Properties. Evid.Based Complement Alternat.Med 2005;2(1):69-78. View abstract.
  • Naser, B., Lund, B., Henneicke-von Zepelin, H. H., Kohler, G., Lehmacher, W., and Scaglione, F. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical dose-response trial of an extract of Baptisia, Echinacea and Thuja for the treatment of patients with common cold. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(10):715-722. View abstract.
  • Singh, S. K., Shanmugavel, M., Kampasi, H., Singh, R., Mondhe, D. M., Rao, J. M., Adwankar, M. K., Saxena, A. K., and Qazi, G. N. Chemically standardized isolates from Cedrus deodara stem wood having anticancer activity. Planta Med 2007;73(6):519-526. View abstract.
  • Sunila, E. S. and Kuttan, G. A preliminary study on antimetastatic activity of Thuja occidentalis L. in mice model. Immunopharmacol.Immunotoxicol. 2006;28(2):269-280. View abstract.
  • von Blumroeder W-O. [Angina lacunaris. An investigation on how to stimulate the endogenous defense system] (German). Z.Allg.Med. 1985;61:271-273.
  • Zimmer M. Specific conservative treatment of acute sinusitis in the ENT practice. Therapiewoche 1985;35:4024-4028.
  • Bendel R, Bendel V, Renner K, et al. [Additional treatment with Esberitox N in patients with chemo- radiotherapy treatment of advanced breast cancer]. Onkologie. 1989;12 Suppl 3:32-8. View abstract.
  • Bendel R, Bendel V, Renner K, et al. [Supplementary treatment with Esberitox of female patients undergoing curative adjuvant irradiation following breast cancer]. Strahlenther.Onkol. 1988;164:278-83. View abstract.
  • Bockhorst H, Gollnick N, Guran S, et al. [Therapy of herpes simplex in practice. Report on the treatment of herpes simplex labialis with Esberitox]. ZFA.(Stuttgart.) 11-20-1982;58:1795-98. View abstract.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
  • Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Professional's Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines. 1st ed. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1999.
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  • Henneicke-von Zepelin H, Hentschel C, Schnitker J, et al. Efficacy and safety of a fixed combination phytomedicine in the treatment of the common cold (acute viral respiratory tract infection): results of a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study. Curr Med Res Opin 1999;15:214-27. View abstract.
  • Lust J. The herb book. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1999.
  • Millet Y, Jouglard J, Steinmetz MD, et al. Toxicity of some essential plant oils. Clinical and experimental study. Clin Toxicol 1981;18:1485-98. View abstract.
  • Offergeld R, Reinecker C, Gumz E, et al. Mitogenic activity of high molecular polysaccharide fractions isolated from the cuppressaceae Thuja occidentalis L. enhanced cytokine-production by thyapolysaccharide, g-fraction (TPSg). Leukemia 1992;6(Suppl 3):189S-91S. View abstract.
  • Ramsewak RS, Nair MG, Stommel M, Selanders L. In vitro antagonistic activity of monoterpenes and their mixtures against 'toe nail fungus' pathogens. Phytother Res 2003;17:376-9.. View abstract.
  • Stafstrom CE. Seizures in a 7-month-old child after exposure to the essential plant oil thuja. Pediatr Neurol 2007;37:446-8. View abstract.
  • von Blumroeder, W. O. [Angina lacunaris. An investigation on how to stimulate the endogenous defense system] (German). Z Allg Med 1985;61:271-273.

More Resources for THUJA

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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