All of my life I have always loved the clean and fresh scent of cedar leaves, the smell of my clothes as they come out of storage at the start of each new season from my cedar chest, and the beauty of cedar wood that is used in woodworking and furniture pieces. Cedar is such a beautiful and historic part of nature here in Canada and has always been put to efficient use thanks to its abundance. But it wasn't until I studied Herbal Medicine as part of my holistic nutrition schooling that I was introduced to the wonderful healing and medicinal powers of cedar leaves. Now I have an even greater appreciation for this natural beauty, and an extra heap of love for the two big cedar trees I have gracing my back yard.
Health Benefits of Cedar
Cedar, also known by its Latin name Thuja Occidentalis, is abundant throughout the world, especially here in Canada where I live. According to ancient Native North Americans, cedar was the first tree in Creation and is one of the most powerful medicinal plants in the world. Modern-day herbalists will agree...cedar packs a very powerful punch when it comes to healing properties and has been used extensively by both herbalists and Natives alike for hundreds of years to treat a number of ailments including:
Cedar's main action is due to its stimulating and nutrient infusing volatile oil. This oil gives cedar its super powers: an astringent effect, meaning that it is effective for reducing secretions and discharges, as well as an excellent expectorant effect, meaning it helps the body release excess mucous from the respiratory system. Add to these actions the fact that cedar is extremely high in Vitamin C and you can see why it is so effective for treatment of chest colds!
Cedar is also high in compounds called proanthocyanins which are considered to be important for helping prevent cancer, as well as resveratrol, an antioxidant associated with anti-aging and cardiovascular health.
Perhaps one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to use cedar is to make a tea from its leaves. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, we should be able to easily happen upon a cedar shrub or tree within a short distance of our homes. Take a relaxing walk in nature and you'll be surrounded by them!
Healing Cedar Tea - The Recipe
Aside from putting a tea bag in a cup of boiling water, it doesn't get much easier than this!
Collect 2 cups of fresh cedar leaves (do not use the bark)
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of fresh filtered water to a boil. Add the cedar leaves to the water and allow to simmer.
After 10 to 15 minutes, strain the cedar leaves out of the water which will now be a beautiful shade of gold.
Pour the tea into a mug and ENJOY! You will notice that the tea has a slight "film" of oil across the top. That is the residue of the powerful volatile oil that I referenced above, so don't be grossed out or try to skim it off. It's good for you! It doesn't have an oily texture to it and and won't leave an oily feeling on your lips or in your mouth.
This tea has a pleasant sweet and earthy flavour. For the full medicinal benefit, it should be consumed as it is, with no sweetener or dairy added, and I'm sure you'll find that you enjoy it on its own. For treatment of a cold and cough, drink three cups a day on an empty stomach. You'll be feeling better in no time!
I hope you try this wonderfully healing and calming tea. Mother Nature sure does an excellent job at healing and protecting us. Perhaps cedar tea will become a new favourite natural remedy for you as it has become for me.
Hoffman, David - Holistic Herbal (1990)
Tiwari, Maya - Ayurveda: A life of Balance (1994)
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Jill Taylor is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of two pretty awesome teenagers, s very dramatic dog, a hedgehog and a snake (yikes!). Jill assists her clients in achieving true wellness through thoughtful and compassionate dietary and lifestyle coaching. Feel free to visit the "Contact" page to get in touch. Jill would love to hear from you!