4 magickal and medicinal things you might not know about cedar

it is no secret, if you’ve peeped at the products in my shop, that i love to incorporate cedar into pretty much everything i can, in some way.

the reason for that is it is just a really damn all-around amazing substance when it comes to protection, abundance, healing, clearing, banishing, recovery, love, and even spiritual growth.

cedar has long been used by countless peoples for all those purposes and more, as far back as written history has recorded. and its popularity is justified. this tree is super high vibe and, quite frankly, pretty fucking magickal.

history

cedar belongs to the pine family, and has a scent that is similar, yet a little softer on the olfactory senses, not quite as sharp. all four varieties of cedar trees are coniferous and evergreen.

they tend to grow in mountainous regions, and can be found throughout earth’s regions where those mountains have formed.

cedar trees can be found as revered, sacred, or holy trees in places like the pacific northwest of the US, the middle east, and the indian subcontinent, where you can find their likeness on flags (e.g. lebanon) and in religious ceremonies (e.g. to the god Shiva, who was said to frequent cedar forests).

cedar forests in mesopotamia were said to have been fought over as living places by gods and demi-gods, and even gilgamesh was said to have built his city of cedar wood.

cedar has been used the world over to make everything from tools, to buildings, canoes and ships, to clothing fiber, textiles, food, and medicine, to name a few.

properties

longevity:

cedars are known for their incredibly long lifespans – thousands of years if left undisturbed by humans and industrial expansion.

it is because of this incredible longevity that they are said to confer prosperity and long, healthy life on those who worship or hold them sacred.

the entire part of the tree has been harvested by humans for millenia and used for medicinal and spiritual purposes, including the wood, bark, roots, branches, and leaves.

purification:

native peoples in north america used cedar for smudging*, a practice of burning dried plant matter to remove negative vibes, evil spirits, or to purify the energy in a space.

both cedar wood and cedar branches/tips can be used to burn as incense or smudging, or, if you are not of native american heritage, you can refer to the practice as cedar clearing, or simply clearing.

*its important to note that the term smudging is specific to practices used by tribes and indigenous peoples of the americas, and should not be used to refer to all practices of burning herbs or plants for the same purpose, unless it is done by native peoples, as this is culturally appropriating a practice from native peoples

antimicrobial and insecticidal:

cedar wood and leaves are antibacterial and antifungal. the essential oil of cedar can be applied to surfaces or even skin (please dilute it appropriately- pure essential oil on skin may cause chemical burns if applied incorrectly). it can clear up infections and nail or skin fungus. it can even be applied topically to warts to gradually remove them!

burning cedar incense or wood/leaves can also clear microbes and mold spores from the air in a building.

you may also notice that a number of all natural pesticidal products are popping up these days with cedarwood essential oil in them, among other ingredients, as it repels insects, spiders, and other unwanted indoor pests. (i actually purchased one of these and it. really. works. the scent is quite powerful initially, but it dies down after a day or so, and then you can’t smell it, but the insects definitely can!).

autophagy:

in the clinical world, the term autophagy (auto: self; phagus/phagy: eating) is used to refer to the process in which some of our immune cells (macrophages) consume other cells, usually our own dead, aging, or diseased cells that need to be removed and cleared out.

autophagy is a necessary process and keeps us functioning smoothly, taking out the cellular trash, if you will, on a regular basis. a number of things can impair autophagy, though, and anything that uses up or otherwise takes up the time and attention of our macrophages (infections from bacteria, yeast, and viruses; toxin exposure; excess toxicants from food and environment) can make this system less efficient.

over time, those dying, diseased, or aging cells can become cancerous, and, without enough macrophages around to chew them up and take out the trash, can lead to tumors and other forms of malignancy.

cedar tea or cedar tincture can be used to stimulate macrophage activity and increase our body’s ability to take out that cellular trash.

how to make a zesty immunity herbal tea

I love herbs. I’ve worked with them for over a decade in my ‘day job’ as a clinician. They can be quite potent and medicinal if you use them correctly in the right doses.

A really great easy way to incorporate herbs into your self-care and health/wellness routine is in the form of herbal teas.

Even if you aren’t using herbs for any medical or health reasons, herbal teas are still an excellent way to get antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that aid in liver detoxification, cellular immunity and repair, and even promote anti-aging effects like cell regeneration and improve skin appearance.

This particular herbal tea is one I make a lot lately, because it has a number of properties that i think are really important right now for me:

  • immune boosting antioxidants and herbal extracts
  • anti-aging antioxidants (i ain’t getting any younger)
  • adrenal-balancing compounds (stress has been redefined for me, personally)
  • cellular health compounds

Here’s what I put in it, but feel free to play around with ingredients to your own taste:

  • ~1 tsp hibiscus
  • ~1-2 tsp schisandra berries (dried)
  • 1 small slice ginseng (dried root)
  • ~1-2 tsp dried goji berries
  • ~3/4-1 tsp rhodiola
  • ~8-10g fresh ginger root
  • 2-3 fresh lemon slices

Here are some of the important properties of the ingredients that I take into account when I choose what to put in a particular herbal tea:

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a tropical plant whose red calyces (the pods that form after the petals drop off) are used medicinally for a variety of reasons. It is considered a ‘cooling’ herbal ingredient in many cultures, for ailments that result from too much ‘heat’ or which are referred to as ‘hot’ conditions.

It has been used to lower blood pressure naturally in human trials [1] and has undergone cancer chemopreventive trials in animals [2].

The main antioxidant compounds in hibiscus are polyphenolic acids, flavonoids, protocatechuic acid (PCA), and anthocyanins. These come from the pigment-associated plant components, especially the deep dark reds. I’ll bring up anthocyanins again when I discuss schisandra berries. These are all compounds that reduce inflammation by either directly binding to reactive oxygen species (ROS) or inhibiting those free radicals from doing things like binding to cells and DNA, which is super bad, trust me.

Schisandra berries

For real, if you’re not eating or consuming schisandra berries all the time right now, start. These are like level 9000 super food status, and not many people know much about them outside of herbal communities and alternative medicine experts.

These little berries are native to parts of Asia and they have a (pause for suspenseful effect)…deep dark red pigment to them. Yes, these are also high in anthocyanins, the antioxidants associated with red, purple, blue, and black-pigmented plants.

Not only that, but they also have antiviral activity [3] and contain a phenolic compound called Schisandrin C, which is hepatoprotective (supports the liver and helps protect it from damage) [4]. Other important antioxidants include Schisandrin A and B (Sch A; Sch B) and gomisin A (Gom A).

And then, if that’s not enough, they also support the immune system by stimulating a specific type of white blood cells to produce certain cytokines in response to inflammation, which causes other immune cells to differentiate into helpful or beneficial responses [5].

*caution: because schisandra can stimulate TH-1 immune response, I would definitely not recommend taking this plant or its extracts if you have an active COVID-19 infection; if you take it as a preventive before contracting the virus, it will be harmless and can absolutely help boost your immune system, but during active infection in some individuals, it could increase cytokine storm, which can lead to severe complications; consult a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements, herbs, medicines, or nutraceuticals

Ginseng

This is a root that is pretty much a staple for me, and I recommend it to many of my patients for its multifaceted value in both anti-aging/longevity medicine and its cellular support properties.

Ginseng comes in several forms, but generally for those two purposes, I recommend using Panax ginseng, also referred to as Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng. This form of ginseng is the most costly, but worth it. You can purchase it already dried and sliced, or you can purchase the root dried and cut it yourself if you want to save some cash.

Important constituents of ginseng and why I add it to herbal teas so frequently are:

  •  over 30 different compounds classified as ginsenosides have been studied with effects ranging from cardiovascular, neurological, hepatic, endocrine, to immune function
  • supports memory, learning, focus, and neuroprotection [6]
  • immune-modulating properties like anticancer actions and increases production and action of immune cells such NK (natural killer) cells and T cells [7]
  • has longevity (longer life span properties) and stress reduction properties, as well as stress-modulating properties [8]

Who doesn’t want to look and feel younger, while living longer and being super chill?

Goji berries

I think most people have jumped on a variety of ‘super food’ trends over the years, and goji berries definitely had their time in the spotlight. You guessed it: they have anthocyanins in them because of their pigment! They taste great and I add them mainly for the extra antioxidant boost and their contribution to flavor.

Ginger

Ginger is another one of those non-negotiable wonder roots that I feel like everyone should be consuming in addition to ginseng. Ginger has such powerful digestive benefits (high doses of it can alleviate constipation in some people). It also has anticancer properties, as well as some strong immune boosting properties due to its antioxidants (gingerols, shogaol, and paradols) and anti-inflammatory effects [9].

Rhodiola

And last but not least, we come to rhodiola, a potent adrenal adaptogen that many people use in lieu of caffeine and other stimulants. If you’re feeling sluggish, fatigued, and burned out, rhodiola may just be your bff.

I add it here to give the whole tea a bit of a high energy vibration, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t drink this later in the day. I find that it will not keep you up or prevent sleep the way caffeine would. What I do find is it really helps me turn on the creative centers of my brain and focus my passion and creativity, which i can more easily channel into something productive.

Lemon

Fresh lemon slices are always welcome in herbal teas, IMO, because they can help to take the bite off bitter-tasting or smelling herbs, as well as help to boost the antioxidant content even further, as lemons contain a phenolic compound called limonene, which aids in supporting the liver.

Phew. got all that? If all you came here for was how to make the tea, thanks for sticking around for the rest.

all content contained in this article and on this site is not intended to be used as medical advice or a substitute for medical attention. always check with your healthcare provider before changing or beginning any herbal protocols such as those mentioned herein.

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