Red Cedar

Red Cedar (Hong Shan Shu)

Red Cedar (Hong Shan Shu)

Botanical Name: Western – Thuja plicata (not to be confused with Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginaina or Cedrus libani, the Lebanon Cedar). Eastern – Thuja orientalis.

While similar to Cedar, Red Cedar is a different plant indigenous to the Pacific Northwest with a long history of medicinal, spiritual, and practical uses by the Native American tribes living in these areas. Red Cedar is in fact a variety of cypress tree. The healing properties are essentially the same as cedar’s.

Below is an overview of cedar, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of cedar.


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Western Name: Red Cedar

Also Known As: Giant Red Cedar, Shinglewood, Canoe Cedar

Organs/Systems: Lungs, Skin, Stomach

Key Actions: Antibacterial, Antifungal, Expectorant, Antiseptic, Disinfectant

Medicinal Uses: Colds, flu, congestion, athlete’s foot, ringworm, cuts, bruises.


Pin Yin: Hong Shan Shu

Also Known As: Yellow Cedar, Arbor vitae

Meridians: Lung, Spleen, Bladder, Kidney

Key Actions: Resolves Damp, Expels Damp Cold, Skin Disorders

Medicinal Uses: Colds, sore throat, white copious mucous, urinary tract infections (UTI’s), ringworm, athletes foot, fungal infections.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Western red cedar has red-brown or gray-brown bark with thick longitudinal fissures that are easily peeled. Its foliage grows in sprays with small, highly aromatic leaves. Western red cedar grows to a height of 125 ft (60m) in moist soils in mixed coniferous forests. It is found in the Western United States and Canada from Alaska through Northern California and in the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia through Montana.

Red Cedar (Hong Shan Shu) Parts Most Frequently Used: Flower, Herb, Leaf

Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Pungent, Aromatic, Warming

Caution: Do not use if pregnant, it can cause miscarriage. Not recommend for long term use, 7 to 10 days at most. And use the Essential Oil only externally, used internally it can cause convulsions and even death.

History/Folklore: The Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), Yellow Cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis), and the Mexican White Cedar (Cupressus lusitanica) are all actually cypress trees. The healing properties remain essentially the same as the cedar’s. Red cedar is one of the most important commercial logging trees in the Western United States. It holds a major role in Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest. The wood, bark, limbs, and roots were used to provide a wide variety of needs ranging from shelter to cooking to medicinal uses. Spiritually red cedar was used ritually in ceremonies. It is a symbol of cleansing, protection, prosperity, and healing. It is known to drive out negative energies and attract good influences Most preparations call for boiling the medicinal parts to make a decoction or tea or infusion.

Key Constituents:

Pliactic acid, Thujone, Volatile oils.
Did you know?


The Essential Oil is used externally only. Used internally even small quatities can cause convulsions and death.

Cause of Allergies or Asthma?

The plicatic acid present in the wood and red cedar dust can cause allergies or asthma.
Fun fact!

A Scared Tree

Red Cedar is a scared tree to the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, with some tribes calling themselves, “People of the Cedar.”

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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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