Thuja

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What other names is Thuja known by?

American Arborvitae, Arborvitae, Cedar Leaf Oil, Cèdre, Cèdre Blanc, Cèdre Blanc de l'Est, Cèdre Blanc du Nord, Cèdre Commun, Eastern Arborvitae, Eastern White Cedar, Hackmatack, Huile de Feuilles de Cèdre, Northern White Cedar, Swamp Cedar, Thuga, Thuja, Thuja occidentalis, Thuya, Thuya du Canada, Thuya d'Occident, Tree of Life, White Cedar.

What is Thuja?

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.

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 to Rate Effectiveness 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.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Thuja work?

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

Are there safety concerns?

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.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Thuja can increase the activity of the immune system. Taking thuja along with some medications that decrease the immune system might decrease these medications' effectiveness.

Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), and other corticosteroids (glucocorticoids).



Medications that increase the chance of having a seizure (Seizure threshold lowering drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

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.

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)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

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.

Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.

Dosing considerations for Thuja.

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.

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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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