The Thuja Tree is best known as numerous garden shrubs, mostly dwarf forms. The tallest rarely grows above 30 feet high. These trees have regular, graceful conical forms that make them valuable as high hedge trees. Our remedy, Thuja Occidentalis, is the larger species of the tree that may grow to 200 feet. The wood is used for fencing and palings, as a light roofing timber. The fresh branches are much used in Canada for besoms (tools for space cleansing), which have a pleasing scent. The leaves and twigs yield a camphor-like essential oil that can be distilled from the leaves and used to expel intestinal worms. The foliage is rich in vitamin C. The American Indians used it to treat scurvy. It has been used in fevers, rheumatism, dropsy, coughs and to induce or hasten menstrual flow. The leaves, made into an ointment with fat, are a helpful local application in rheumatism. An injection of the tincture into venereal warts is said to cause them to disappear. The Canadians have used the cones for violent pains.
Trees convey the notion of growth, strength and longevity, grandeur, survival and incorruptibility. Due to its longevity, incorruptible resin and evergreen leaves, Thuja has been associated with immortality (Tree of Life). For this reasons it is planted in graveyards and has its place as the funeral tree in the Mediterranean region. It is the tree of life but also the tree of death, a tree for all seasons. This is also the mental picture of Thuja occidentalis. The name Thuja is a Latinized form of a Greek word meaning ‘to fumigate,’ or thuo (‘to sacrifice’), as the fragrant wood was burnt by the ancients with sacrifices. The Greek word Thujas means “raving women”. The Greek word Thusia means “a burnt offering”, a sacrifice.
The Sycotic Miasm
Thuja is a strongly sycotic remedy characterised by overproduction and excess. The picture of the sychotic state is one where individuals may have inflated egos with an ability and tendency towards performance. The response to the feeling of being out of balance is to overcompensate. They feel like something is wrong with them, that there’s something broken, brittle or weak within themselves, so they attempt to cope by covering it up.
We often read that Thuja patients become secretive, manipulative and defiant, but actually that’s not normally the case. I for one love to treat a Thuja patient! They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They always take their remedy exactly as they’re supposed to. Why? It’s because they suffer lots of guilt as they cover up their perceived failings and try and be all things for all people. They fear that their weaknesses may be exposed. They play many roles according to their company and surroundings and model themselves on people in their lives who they admire and hide behind that mask.
Characteristics and Pathology
Antidotes oral contraceptives, HRT, fertility treatments, chemotherapy, and steroid therapy.
Following recurrent infections e.g. e-coli infections, Chlamydia, trichamona, candida, fungal infections, herpes simplex, herpes genitalia, human papilloma virus and shingles.
NBWS Chicken Pox
Self abuse – because they have the sense that life is hostile, they go out into the world and abuse themselves with drugs, alcohol, excessive tea/coffee drinking, tobacco, sexual excesses.
Worse from sweets, onion, garlic, alcohol, chemicals (sulphur and mercury)
Birth trauma, head injury – there’s a resistance to being born.
Sensitive to cold/wet
It affects all organs that are ovoid (shape of the tree/bush) – polyps, ovaries, testes, pancreas, spleen, endocrine glands, thyroid and the pathology characteristically includes excess of discharges.
Fleshiness – increased water retention so they put on weight. There may be vast changes in weight (morning to night), they swell when they travel or go to the seaside.
Slow metabolism: A Thuja patient in health is splendid to see. They are very handsome men and very beautiful women with the perfect, athletic body. They create a mask through the body itself and perfection through plastic surgery. Great attention is paid to diet, eating and drinking where it can reach obsessive levels. Then as the sycotic miasm takes hold, the metabolism slows down, they have a tendency towards true obesity. They take on an oval form. The trunk becomes fat. They have thin legs and arms, extra breasts if it’s a man and overhanging abdomen.
The contraceptive Pill causes lymphatic oedema so they gain weight and are never able to get rid of it. With HRT the breasts grow, or one may grow and the other may not, either side, and they become overweight. Sometimes the weight may be another mask, as in Calc where the weight is another shell. Thuja is also good for infertility where indicated.
Poly cystic kidneys
Cystic fibrosis of the pancreas – it’s a pancreatic remedy.
Nails: Thickened, deformed, overgrowth (sil), undulations of the nail, elongated stripes and ridges that you can feel and see. Transverse corrugation, going out and coming back – often as a reaction to stress and it’s laid down in the nail bed.
Skin: Facial skin can be course with an Orange peel appearance. Old acne scars may be evident – it’s a great acne remedy (Med). Hair starts to fall out. Skin starts to peel off. Like the tree, it’s like dandruff. They lose hair from parts they don’t want to lose hair from – eyebrows, pubic hair – the older Thuja particularly. Sweat on uncovered parts. Sweat when asleep. Smelly feet, armpits and groin. Nature conspires to make them ugly nearly!
There can be Eruptions and growths, warts and tumours of all sorts, particularly of the face. Specific red tumours, red nodules, papillomas, port wine stains are common. They may have a broad fleshy nose, red veins and capillaries on the nose. There may be conspicuous temporal arteries because there can be high blood pressure. The remedy picture turns up many endocrine disorders such as Cushings disease and Addison’s disease. There may be pigmentation of the skin from hormone therapy, the pill or HRT or alternatively vitiligo where patches of skin have lost pigmentation. The picture also contains scars and keloids.
A very important feature is fungal infections. There may be a history of antibiotic treatment. Mycosis may be part of the picture where fungal infection occurs through inhalation of fungal spores or where fungus manages to pass the resistance barrier of the skin and cause infection (Sepia, Bas). Hormonal conditions bringing on repeated bouts of Candida, or there can be thrush from the pill.
Mental and Emotional Thuja, Themes and Possibilities
Thuja types are very secretive and commonly perceived as deceitful as a result. The deceit is not apparent in the Thuja patient. They are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They believe themselves to be fragile. They often maintain that their health, or their body, will always let them down, so may present as hypochondriac.
These patients can be very religious. Here is a good indication of the extremes of the sycotic miasm. They have an image of themselves as being clean-living and upright members of society, yet they have low self esteem. This may be covering hidden sexual desires about which they are guilt-ridden. Thuja women have a great fear of pregnancy, often feel as though they are pregnant, and this brings about feelings of guilt. This is in contrast to the Medorrhinum patient who is overly sexual. Sankaran sees Thuja coming from a situation which demands rigidity of thinking, so it suits them to engage in activities that lend themselves to this, such as practicing strict religious beliefs.
Social security lies in adhering, or at least appearing to adhere to, religious norms. Inside however the person feels brittle or fragile. In his manner he looks straight and fixed and his ideas and views do not allow for any freedom of thinking. Yet from inside there is always a fear of being exposed and his whole cover breaking down; this makes him stiff and cautious in the presence of strangers. The fall from grace is symbolised in dreams of falling, from which he wakes up with a fright. Sankaran finds that one of the main indications of the remedy is a feeling of being frail or fragmented – a feeling of weakness within oneself, that something is “wrong” with oneself. These patients think that food and alcohol are bound to cause them problems and that their system cannot take things such as drugs, allergens, emotional stress or exposure to a draft of air. They try to avoid all such things and attempt to keep themselves covered to avoid exposure to the same. These avoidances only reinforce the fear and this vicious cycle is not broken, making Thuja one of the main remedies for neurosis, with obsessive compulsive tendencies and fixed ideas and behaviour patterns.
In the emotional sphere the feeling of fragility is manifest in the fear of losing face in society. The person can believe that he has a certain image in society of being a religions, upright, clean, honest person, free from human failings such as dishonesty, sexual temperament etc. Thus he presents an elevated picture of himself as he is afraid that any slip on his part might reveal the real person or the “bad” part of him, which he has tried so hard to cover up. In this “bad part” lies his dishonesty, sexual desires (which can even be for close relatives), his immoral or irreligious feelings. If this is discovered, he will fall from his imagined elevated position and will be finished. Thus his survival depends on a complete cover up, and there is tremendous anxiety about being exposed.
The Thuja person is secretive and talks to the physician as if sharing a secret. He is ever conscious of the presence of other people, especially strangers. There is also a feeling of floating in the air. He dreams of falling from high places – representing his fear of falling from his elevated position.
Borland states that “all Thuja patients are truthful, scrupulous in everything they do” – i.e. they are so deceptive you will think they are being honest. Thuja is also a Silica look-alike. Silica can degrade into Thuja. Thuja is more deceptive however, they may have a hidden or secretive, private life. Thuja is an actor, a chameleon remedy, a different person in different circumstances. They are morally correct, can be closed and present as perfectly symmetrical with not a hair out of place.
They aim at perfection Nothing can be wrong, so they can’t be spontaneous. They also like to be invisible. They have delusions of being like glass – again going back to the theme of fragility and transparency – they don’t want to be seen. They seek to be isolated. There’s a sense of alienation within them and they can feel incompatible with their environment. Aurum is very close to Thuja. They try to conceal what they can’t suppress. What they can’t conceal becomes sexual.
They come across as being happy, even when sad. They can suppress emotion/grief, much farther than Nat Mur. In the midst of their sadness they are soliciting for sympathy, which people don’t give them. And when they don’t get the sympathy they are resentful. Where awful traumas have taken place and the grief is very deep, they can fall into coma. In labour they didn’t want to come into the world and as growing children they try and make the mother pay for bringing them into the world with confrontational behaviour.
They can be hypersensitive to remarks/opinions because those reflect discomfort with themselves. If questioned about their beliefs, they feel like they are being attacked at an identity level, at their very core. They feel brittle. As a survival mechanism, since they perceive life as hostile, they build up this world around themselves. They can be haughty and overbearing. At their best they have poise and presence, but it can appear as pompous. They can be very condescending. Lycopodium can degenerate into Thuja.
Nothing must threaten their dignity. They can be very serious, devoid of humour and can’t take a joke against themselves. True feelings are often concealed beneath a charming veneer. Oiliness (in the wood) is a theme – they can grease their way up any social ladder. We call these people Sycophants – they’re slippery and too charming. There’s a mask of politeness and language, but it’s lifeless. Their diction is too perfect so it distances them from other people. They desire solitude, feel separate, secretive and they resist intrusion.
In their manner they are poised, hurried, agitated or impatient. There’s never enough time for Thuja. They intentionally try to slow down time because they feel like they’re on a carousel and they’re trying to get off. As a practitioner you have to look at the glandular area and all the endocrine organs.
The spiritual stimulus of sycosis is part of the psychological and spiritual evolution of the individual. Through the action of sycosis the person becomes aware of duality, realising he is not just a physical being. There’s an awareness of the animal in them and a conflict of energies, one of which is wholesome and the other quite opposite. There’s a loss of identity which comes with this. Then there’s a tendency to judge the self through negative energies that are determined by the shadow. Then building up a personal being blighted by images determined by the unconscious and thrown up as a different identity.
David Lilley’s picture of the Sycotic Home is invaluable in understanding this remedy. Sexual abuse is a common theme in these cases. There’s a loss of identity from the abuse and the negative images from the unconscious, and a new persona being born from this negativity. They will say things like “I am bad”, “I am abused” “I am wicked”. The sycotic has to descend into hell, confront the shadow and in that conflict he must rise up and resurrect. They are not destroying anything, they are bringing the two things together (like Sil) and there is a reformation to transcend. Sycosis in Greek means “standing up” rising up. It also means resurrection and transcendence.
It is easy to see the transition from Calc Carb to Thuja – Calc has a fear of life so he creates a shell. Thuja has a mask. The fear of the incarnation experience is equal in both. Both have a fear of insanity and germs. Thuja is always washing his hands – need to cleanse. Calc has the feeling that life is awful. With Thuja there is the need to hide, to be invisible.
Sycosis is transmittable (STD) so it is highly contagious through promiscuity. In the home there is sycotic energy. Where there is sycotic energy and there is lack of education, then possibly you have big families, where fundamentalism is practiced. They have lots of children – this is a status thing – but there are fears of infertility. Role models are cold, calculating, cruel and manipulative, and the child is given contrasting messages. Everything is permeated by deceit, hidden, subterfuge, clandestine, secret, private, nasty, weird and ugly, because very often they are projecting the exact opposite image to that which they are indulging in.
Masquerading with puritanical piety, the child is being fed messages that sex is dirty and disgusting, while the very things that they are condemning they are indulging in. They externalise their crimes and iniquities, implanting them in the ears of others. It’s like Jimmy Swaggart, impassioned on the pulpit, where he proclaims that there were prostitutes at home. He announces the very things he desires and he condemns it from the pulpit.
These parents are talking about dirt and filth. They never talk about sex. The more the energy is suppressed the more energy it has. All the messages in the family are unpredictable, underhand, under cover. A Silicea born into this environment has the subjectivity to grow away from this situation, but Thuja doesn’t. Thuja has a loss of identity. There’s suppression from all around them. Big factors include low income, overcrowding in homes, absent mother or marital strife, antisocial father (antisocial personality type). The mother in this case may be the victim. There may be deviousness with the conflict that ensues. The patients dream of confrontation and war. Sometimes the child is sent away from the home which intensifies the lack of identity.
There can be a history of abuse – physical, emotional, sexual. There also may be excessive parental control from authoritarian parents and neglectful suppression from pious puritanical parents. They develop intrusive thoughts of the obsessive compulsive type. They emphasise the relationship with the mother (Thuja, Med – all the sycotics). Where the mother is predatory, the perpetrator, these are the worst possible cases. The mother is also an accomplice. Or the mother is passive, not involved, turns her back; the intrusion of the father is not believed. The mother is unable to help as she herself is a victim. Incest is common. There may be apparent discrepancy between the behaviour at home and the behaviour in the workplace/school, or, a husband who is wonderful at work and horrible at home.
Loss of identity follows along with emotional problems. Children are in fear that the footsteps are going to stop outside her door. They are beaten, subjugated, humiliated. An awful state of over-adaptation takes place.
How do they survive? Through delusions. Even if you don’t know about the abuse you can prescribe on the delusions. They are trapped, caged (Cimic). There’s a pattern of submission, compliance and then resignation. Their destiny is in the hands of someone who is perpetrating these terrible things and they have no control. They are suspicious, mistrustful, they lack faith and are sceptical. Thuja has no trust in anybody.
The upbringing may have been extremely critical with destructively judgemental parents. Negative comparisons are made. There is often a Lycopodium dad who’s not lifting the children up, but plumping himself up instead. Authoritarian parents who approach parenthood with authority – children should be seen and not heard; you may look but you may not touch – it makes the child cringe, go inwards and conceal.
Or you may have indulgent parents – where the child is born with an aversion to the mother from the word go – from breastfeeding, there can be oppositional defiance problems. They have the worst tantrums, both in the adult and child. He punishes mother with the silent treatment. As an adult they still do it. He thinks his mother emasculated him. The mother is the victim; the victim of her own passion. When not in the energy of the family situation, he rescues. He is the victimiser and then he rescues.
With neglectful parents – love and care is not flowing or consistent and is unpredictable, where it only comes from behaviour of a certain type. The child begins to think that life is unpredictable, cruel and cold, that everything is about manipulation. He has to fight and manipulate and be devious to get what he wants. He is born with the sycotic feeling of being stained so this situation perpetuates the feeling that he is unworthy of their care and attention – unlovable.
Thuja loses identity, goes into herself and develops a quiet, silent, internal life which gradually becomes more warped due to the sexual sycotic energy. Suppressed sexual energy becomes deviant. She will make love to her herself with her imagination. At the same time there can be a sense of sexual inadequacy in adulthood. It can become a weird and twisted picture. There is a desperate need for love.
Children go inwards and become desperately compliant – the model child – out of that emerges the immaculate adult – always dressed correctly, does things correctly; extra vigilant because they don’t know what’s going to happen next. They become hypersensitive to sounds and smells. They can become androgynous (asexual, genderless). They can become very sensitive to pheromones. Tactile, sensitive children (autism).
Fetishism can be part of the picture or a perverse sex life. They can be hypersensitive to everything that encroaches on the body. There are themes of indiscriminate discipline, indiscriminate punishment and indiscriminate love. When love is indiscriminate and when punishment is indiscriminate then you have problems. The father applies indiscriminate punishment according to his will (not the child’s behaviour) and the mother gives him contrasting messages because no matter what he does, she loves him and indulges him.
How can a child react to that? There’s no consistency. They become superstitious, fatalistic, resigned. The sense of morality disappears. The consequence of actions means nothing. There’s an erosion of the moral core. Consequences are irrelevant at a young age. There’s a sense of learned helplessness (Lac-can). She skulks around hoping to be invisible – the glass factor – hence the connection between Thuja, Sil, Lac-can. There’s humiliation and degradation leading to an inferiority complex.
Sexual shame is another theme which can come from puritanical parents giving the child messages that sex is dirty. There’s tremendous sexual energy in the Thuja person so that when it’s suppressed, it becomes distorted. An emotional picture emerges from the underlying theme of stained, stigmatised, blighted, soiled, defiled, inferior – and so “something is wrong with me” leading to the belief that if people knew the real person they wouldn’t be liked. I have got something that I must hide. I will suppress what I can. What I cannot suppress I will conceal.
Another theme that emerges is fixity. They dwell on past disagreeable events, anger and resentment is present on the surface. For a person who is totally shattered and torn apart during psychotherapy, think Thuja, because it comes up into the consciousness, doesn’t resolve and becomes fixed.
Children who have been abused have a tendency to traumatise themselves, perhaps at times leading to Anorexia and Bulimia. Persistent washing of hands is a clue, as there’s an inclination to compulsion which is symbolic and ritualistic. They have a need to cleanse themselves of that feeling of being stained or tainted and get rid of a sense of guilt and to wash away a sense of shame. A bath will not work for Thuja. They need a shower. Lac-can, Thuja. There’s also a fear of contagion. The feeling of being out of touch with reality creates an obsessive compulsive anxiety. Thuja is anally retentive. As part of oppositional defiant disorder in certain children, there is a refusal to pass stool -which ties in with the bashful stool syndrome of Thuja. There’s rigidity in persistent thoughts and inflexibility of the emotions. Routine is strict. Everything must go according to his will and not be in the least opposed.
They can be rigid and dogmatic in their opinions – they like to bend your ear with their opinions, but they are not in the least bit interested in your opinions. They can be immaculate in presentation, going through every little detail about their disease – Ars, Calcarea
They’re sensitive to criticism and contradiction. In fact, there can be fury from contradiction. There is sensitivity to trifles and tendency to worry about insignificant things. They have terrible concerns about trivial things whilst neglecting the bigger issues.
They are consummate lovers, suitors and can manipulate a woman into bed better than most remedies. Conquest is not the issue, but rather it’s sex for sex only, the act only.
Survival Strategies in Thuja After Abuse
Adopt the stance of the model child coupled with vigilance – conforming. “I am bad” – they take it on board and have a dual impression of the abuser – a means to disassociate the care-taker from the abuser. They feeling guilty for the abuse they are receiving. They can hold conflicting pictures, through deep rationalisation and delusion, of the abuser. This can only be achieved by assaulting their true identity. They have to make themselves bad. They then get to have some degree of control. “If I am bad then I am being abused with some justice. If I am good the abuse will stop, so if I comply with what is being demanded of me, give in, yield, I’ll be alright”. The problem here is that the personality being created is wrapped around the concept of being wicked. Those feelings of hatred that are so profound in Thuja, suppressed deep inside, increase their sense of wickedness and badness. Sometimes they are sexually stimulated by the abuse. They believe this is confirmation that they are wicked.
Creating an alter-ego : Multiple personalities can emerge where some will carry pathology and others will not in the same individual (also Plat).
Disassociation – They project themselves out of the body. They make their body numb and they feel nothing while the abuse goes on. Delusions he is floating on air, mind and body is separated, abstraction of the mind. Depersonalisation can occur. The cause of the disassociation has past, but they use the disassociation to deal with all personal traumas later in life – false persona, fragile, brittle. Amnesia as a result of abuse is very big.
Control freaks – chaos where the control is imposed by something else. They become histrionic (hysteria).
Abuse of drugs and alcohol later in life -addiction – gambling.
Being busy all the time, workaholics. Industrious, Mania for work
Self mutilation – feeling of control at last, emotional pain substituted for physical pain, self punishment, taking out anger on herself (anger for her abuser)
Excessive masturbation after sexual abuse. Self love, to sooth and to comfort.
Kleptomania – it engenders the same feeling they get when they are fearing the abuse – adrenaline rush, intensity of the emotion.
Avoidance of intimacy. Seeking religious support and fundamentalism.
Seeking sex, compulsively.
There’s a loss of inner control. Then the external control goes. These compulsions assume another identity – Delusion: I am under the influence of other powers.
When I was doing my research for this article I listened to David Lilley’s lectures on Thuja and Medorrhinum. David has helped me to truly understand the Thuja in me and my wonderful Thuja patients. Thank you for your wonderful insights.