THUJA OCCIDENTALIS


The remedy, Thuja, is made from the arbor vitae, the tree of life. Its common name is the white cedar and it belongs to the Coniferae closely related to the Euphorbiaceae. The other members of its tribe which are used, up to date, in Homoeopathy, are Sabina Juniperus, Abies of two varieties, Pinus Sylvestris and Pix Liquida and Terebinthina. Taxus Baccata, the yew, is a close ally.


Thuja, one of Hahnemanns favorite discoveries, is one of the most difficult remedies for the beginner to learn in all the homoeopathic Materia Medica. Its symptoms are more mixed and scattered than most of the remedies, and its personality only emerges after long delving and experience.

The remedy, Thuja, is made from the arbor vitae, the tree of life. Its common name is the white cedar and it belongs to the Coniferae closely related to the Euphorbiaceae. The other members of its tribe which are used, up to date, in Homoeopathy, are Sabina Juniperus, Abies of two varieties, Pinus Sylvestris and Pix Liquida and Terebinthina. Taxus Baccata, the yew, is a close ally.

You must all have seen the dark, conical silhouette of the arbor vitae in swamps and along rocky banks, and through the stone pastures of New England. Some of you may have seen it in Italy, or elsewhere, surrounding pools and in formal gardens, like the Villa Deste. It often looks into water narcissistically. The cypress (Cupressus), which is so closely allied to it, is connected in our minds with stately grief and might be called the Tree of the Dead. Such cosmic gamut from life to death is indeed within the range of this great evergreen.

Its form is conical, its buds are ovoid. Along its stem are resinous callosities which look like oozing warts, and when you need Thuja as a remedy the patient will be all curves. The grossly fat suggest its use, those with pendulous abdomens and heavy breasts, triple chins and piano legs.

Those with low thyroid, lymphatic constitutions, given to troubles of the skin, hair and nails, and of all oval organs like the glands, ovaries, prostate, testicles, spleen, etc. It has sway over similar tumors, polyps, papillomata and spongy or fig warts (not the flat and smooth warts of Sepia or Dulcamara). It is characterized, like the tree itself, by oozing and greenness and odors, and by an exuberance of proliferation. The one word characterizing Thuja is EXCESS, a surplus of life, badly organized and badly edited.

In order really to understand Thuja one must study Hahnemanns theory of chronic disease and his tree, much maligned miasms. Thuja, as one of the greatest polychrests from the vegetable sphere, includes in its nature all three of the miasms. As Mercury is to the syphilitic or ulcerative trend, and as Sulphur is to the psoric or nervous-functional trend ( commonly called scrofulous), so Thuja is to the sycotic or proliferative- inflammatory diathesis. With the sycotic nosode Medorrhinum it is called the Mother of Pus and Catarrh. It is essentially a left- sided remedy and hence a feminine one, although it is, of course, frequently indicated also in the male. It typifies the hydrogenoid constitution of von Grauvogl.

As you all know, the word sycosis comes from the Greek word for Fig. In Hahnemanns time more than now, the after-effects of suppressed gonorrhoea were characterized by fig warts, and Thuja is our great remedy for the effects of suppression of gonorrhoea whether in the individual or generations back. It has power to correct states of the system which obstruct the curative action of other remedies especially in conditions where warts are a concomitant symptom. It has power over the dissolution of fluids by perverted lymphatic secretions.

In this lies the secret of its sphere in connection with vaccinosis, since the smallpox vaccine is prepared by using the calf and introducing calf lymph beneath the protective human skin. Thuja is not only similar to the effects of vaccination, but also to many cases of smallpox itself. It is, however, especially suitable when repeated vaccinations by the usual method have not taken, and for the bad results of vaccination appearing long afterward in the form of neuralgias, skin trouble, intestinal troubles and growths.

It has a special fitness where there is a history of animal poisonings of any kind, preferably if these are not recent. The Thuja patient, like all sycotics, tends to die suddenly, on the golf course or at work, or after “successful” operation. They do not linger like the psorics.

Our Thuja shares with other sycotic remedies the hurry and the worry so characteristic of Medorrhinum, Argentum nitricum, etc. It is, however, quiet and furtive although excessive. It desires to be alone and is averse to being touched or approached. It is slow in speech and confused in mind, the latter being relieved by sitting up, and it has a long thoughtfulness about trifles, which is reminiscent of Zincum. It also has, as so often in our remedies, extreme talkativeness with shifting from one thing to another like Lachesis. Mental embroidery and proliferation is ever the enemy of continuity. The Thuja patient has too much matter and too little form, the opposite of Silica. The Thuja patient is oversensitive, not to pain but we weeps from music, like Natrum mur.

He is scrupulous about trifles, though grossly oblivious to larger things. He is discontented and dissatisfied, as are all those who have not order in their mentality. She may be ugly to her husband or her mother, especially during pelvic pain. She is quarrelsome and sulky and very jealous. Thuja is angry at jests. Salacity runs through the remedy, not with the exhibitionistic tendencies of Hyoscyamus but with a kind of impotent delight in the lascivious, such as we connect with the French mentality. Like all sycotic remedies, there is an element of deception, cheating, and lying in our Thuja. Many imbeciles, morons and subnormal people of the fat, lax, slobbering type need Thuja (the violently insane and murderous run to the syphilitic remedies; the neurosis to the psoric; and the perversions and imbecilities to the sycotic).

Our Thuja, even when not insane, has curious fixed ideas, such as that she is brittle, her limbs made of glass which would easily break, or that a leg or an arm are wooden, or that she is pregnant, when she is not, or that something is alive and moving in her abdomen (like Crocus). She feels as though the soul and body were separated and this is relieved in the open air; as if she were under the influence of a superior power (compare Lachesis and Anacardium) or as if another were thinking for her.

She has a sense of floating or levitation, as if she were not wholly in her body (indeed, the excess of etheric leaves little room or access for the ego). She is apprehensive for the future and dreams of the dead and dead bodies, of flying and falling and dying, and of amorous adventure.

In appearance the Thuja patient is fleshy, rounded, with lax musculature and large glands, dark predominantly but may be light-haired, and the hair is strong and dry (not wiry like Medorrhinum) and splits easily and falls from the head and brows uniformly (real baldness comes under the syphilitic remedies). There is an excess of hair on the face and body. This remedy is, in my opinion, the best for the removing of excess hair where it should not be. The nails are brittle or thick, deformed, tough.

Thuja has the power to soften abnormally hard things. The Thuja patient is exhausted and soft, has a waxy, greasy, shiny face, cachectic look, a grayish complexion, dark under the eyes, spidery veins, pimples between the brows, freckles and blotches, a spotted, dirty appearance, depigmented or over-pigmented areas (chloasmata of pregnancy), hair on the skin of the face, dilated or contracted pupils, naevi, warts, epitheliomata, broad, fleshy noses (the psoric nose is long and pointed, the syphilitic retrousse or pug). There is a sensation of heat in the face without redness, sweat or thirst.

In general, Thuja suits patients who have never been well since they were vaccinated, who lose consciousness temporarily on sitting up, who are chilly but not cold, who have pulsations all over the body and a tendency to neuralgia, whose pains are wandering, tearing and tend to extend, whose pains radiate upward and backward, who have frequent urination during pain, who tend to proud flesh, scars, livid red spots left over after injuries, whose pain in the belly of the muscles and not in the tendons, who have lipomas and tumors, especially those that bleed when touched, whose discharges are green but thinner than Pulsatilla, who have a tendency to chronic catarrh after exanthems and whose discharges have odors like fish brine or herring brine, or garlic, or honey, or sweet and pungent, or smell like burnt horn, feathers or sponge.

The main modalities are: Aggravation 3 a.m. and 3 p.m., early morning, night, overheating, sun, light, closing the eyes, warmth, afternoon, narcotics, walking, extending the limbs, letting the limbs hang down, lying on the left side, touch, sometimes motion, damp, cold air, the waxing moon, the heat of the bed, warm rooms, uncovering, ascending, riding, coition, change of position, eating, excessive use of tea, after breakfast, sours, fats, tobacco, during menses and also before, onions, draught. Relief from being alone, open air, head backward or looking up, pressure, cold, rubbing and scratching, drawing the limbs up and sometimes motion, sometimes local heat.

Time forbids a complete review of the particular symptoms; some of the chief are as follows:.

VERTIGO: worse closing the eyes (Lachesis, Ther.).

HEADACHE: as of a nail, in small spots (Ign., Anac.); as of tight hoop; worse left temple; tearing over left brow; from sex excess and overheating; better pressure, air, head back; worse warmth, one sided; from malar region back to occiput (opp. Spig.); numb head.

EYES: myopia; lid tumors; styes; objects tremble; black spots floating or green stripes; as if cold air blowing through eye; tearing pain in left eye better by heat; sclerotitis.

NOSE: warts; eruptions on wings; green, bloody coryza.

EARS: Hum in left ear and brain; cramping pain in the ear; polyps.

FACE: Boring in left zygoma, better touch.

MOUTH: Twitching left upper lip; visible papillae on tongue; warts on tongue; ranula; varicosities of the throat; tartar; sensitive teeth; teeth break at the gum; black mark at the gum line; caries of sides, not roots or crowns.

G. I.: Desires cold drink before eating; thirsty in afternoon; big spleen; sore, red, pouting navel; stool recedes; torpid constipation; hard black balls or large stool habitually; several loose stools a day (Puls.). Diarrhoea from vaccination, coffee or onions; gurgling like water from bung of barrel; grass green stools; ileus; knotty, lumpy protruding abdomens; watery diarrhoea after breakfast; left hernia; piles worse sitting; fissured anus; condylomata; pain in rectum during stool.

G. U.: Urinary tantrums; G.C. prostatitis; chancroid; retracted testicle; knotty prostate; thin, green, scalding discharge during urination; gleet (last drop); hydrocele; orchitis with squeezing in the left testicle; left kidney pain extending to bladder; retention of urine with painful urge with sensation as if the urine passed; trickling and dribbling; sensitive vagina; inner thighs red and excoriated; bloody, watery or green gonorrhoea, better by motion; tearing pain left ovary extending to the thighs, worse during menses; burning, bursting in the ovary; menses early, short, scanty; fetus too active; nipples retracted.

CHEST: Asthmas in sycotic children (Med., Nat. sulph.); bronchitis chronic, or after acute disease, with oppression of the chest, loose cough, copious green or white morning sputum; persistent, dry hacking cough from throat irritation (cleans up more chronic bronchitis than any remedy I know); breast lumps after vaccination.

BACK: Stiff from the left nape to the ear.

EXTREMITIES: post G. C. rheumatism relieved by cold and motion; cracking of joints; restless knees; painful soles; myositis ossificans; elephantiasis; finger tips cold as if dead; flesh as if beaten from bones; tingling of the left middle finger; sciatica; left paralysis; brown mottling of the dorsa of the hands; hang nails; offensive foot sweat.

SLEEP: Insomnia, worse after 3 a.m.; takes long time to wake up.

CHILL: fever and sweat: Chilly in the morning; chill starts in thigh; chill with yawning; shuddering on uncovering; copious sweat on falling asleep; sweat on undressing; sweat of all but the head (opp. Sil.); sweat only on uncovered parts; sweat during sleep; sweat stains yellow; one-sided sweat; thirst before sweat stage.

SKIN: Eruptions on covered parts only; livid spots remain after eruptions; absorbs proud flesh and scars; blisters worse uncovering; zona worse labia or prepuce; cephalomata; cauliflower or coxcomb excrescences; pale polypi; lipomas; annular, scaly blotches. Thuja prevents pitting in ache or smallpox. Warts fig, seed, jagged, pedunculated, divided into parts with broad base, burning, spongy, soft, bleeding. Strawberry marks, birth marks, angiomas.

RELATIONSHIPS: Complementary to Ars., Med., Nat. mur., Nat. sulph., Sab., Sil. Goes in series Puls.,Sil., Fluor. ac., Thuja or Ars., Thuja, Tarant.

Related to Nit. ac., Puls., Staph., Agar., and, according to Boger, also Merc. Compare with Castor– the beaver who lives on the bark of resinous trees. Follows Cann. sat. and Staph. (Note Ars. is syphilitic and psoric, but not sycotic.).

Teste groups Thuja with Plat., Bism., Castor and Squill.

Such is a glimpse of the Arbor Vitae which is supposed to have specific antibacterial action. It is not used nearly enough in its spheres not directly related to genito-urinary troubles. It is to be though of with the nosodes for frequent and fundamental cure.

Elizabeth Wright Hubbard
Dr. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard (1896-1967) was born in New York City and later studied with Pierre Schmidt. She subsequently opened a practice in Boston. In 1945 she served as president of the International Hahnemannian Association. From 1959-1961 served at the first woman president of the American Institute of Homeopathy. She also was Editor of the 'Homoeopathic Recorder' the 'Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy' and taught at the AFH postgraduate homeopathic school. She authored A Homeopathy As Art and Science, which included A Brief Study Course in Homeopathy.