Biota or tree of life proven benefits uses

Scientific names Common names
Biota chengii (Borderes & Gaussen) Bord. & Gaus. Biota (Engl.)
Biota coraeana Siebold ex Gordon Chinese thuja (Engl.)
Biota dumosa Carriere Chinese arbor-vitae (Engl.)
Biota elegantissima Beissn. Oriental arbor-vitae (Engl.)
Biota ericoides Carriere Oriental thuja (Engl.)
Biota falcata Carriere Tree of life (Engl.)
Biota freneloides Gordon
Biota funiculata Gordon
Biota glauca Carriere
Biota gracilifolia Knight
Biota intermedia Gordon
Biota japonica Siebold ex Gordon
Biota orientalis (L.) Endl.
Biota pyramidalis Carriere
Biota semparaurescens Beissn
Chamaecdyparis decussata Carriere
Cupressus filiformis Beissn.
Cupressus thuja O. Targ. Tozz.
Platycladus chengii (Borderes & Gaussen) A.V.Bobrov
Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco
Platycladus stricta Spach
Retinispora ericoides Zucc. ex Gordon
Retinospora rigida Carriere
Thuja acuta Moench
Thuja antartica Gordon
Thuja ericoides Carriere
Thuja antartica Gordon
Thuja intermedia Gordon
Thuja orientalis L.
Thuja stricta Gordon
Widdringtonia glauca (Carriere) Carriere
Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco is an accepted name


Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Xiang bai, Bian bai, Bian gui, Bai shu, Xiang shu, Xiang ke shu, Huang bai, Ce bai.
CZECH: Túje východní, Zeravec východní.
DUTCH: Oosterse levensboom.
FRENCH: Thuya d’Orient, Thuya de Chine.
GERMANY: Morgenländischer Lebensbaum, Orientalischer Lebensbaum.
HUNGARY: Keletfa.
ITALIAN: Albero della vita, Tuia orientale.
JAPANESE: Konotegashiwa.
KOREA: chuk paek namu.
PORTUGUESE: Biota-da-china.
RUSSIAN: Biota vostochnaya, Tuya vostochnaya.
SLOVAKIAN: Tuja východná.
SPANISH: Arbol de la vida, Arbol de la vida chino, Uya de la China.


Name derives from Platycadus meaning “broad or flattened shoots” and orientalis referring to its native habitat, China. Arbor vitae is Latin for “tree of life.”


Oriental arbor-vitae is a small, slow growing tree, growing to a height of 15 to 20 meters, the trunk about 0.5 meters in diameter, up to 2 meters in very old trees. Stems are multiple. Bark is thin, reddish brown and peeling in longitudinal strips. Branches are ascending, ramified in a vertical plane. Leaves are decussately opposite, scale-like, 2 millimeters long, tightly appressed. Male cones are terminal, 2 to 3 millimeters long; female cones are axillary, oblong, 20 to 25 millimeters by 10 to 18 millimeters, with fleshy scales. Seeds are ovoid, flattened, 5 to 7 by 3 to 4 millimeters, and wingless. (9)

It is similar to Thuja occidentalis in general appearance, but has upright cones and thickened scales.


– Planted in gardens.

– Native to China.

– Widely naturalized from east Asia to Korea and Japan, south to northern India and west to northern Iran.

– Often planted as ornamental or as hedge plant.


– Essential oil of leaves and fruits yielded a-pinene, sabinene, 3-carene, limonene, and cedrol as major components.

– Defatted ethanol extract of leaves and fruits were rich in flavonoids and tannins.

– Hydrodistilled essential oils of fresh fruits and leaves yielded 24 and 21 compounds respectively. Major components were a-pinene, a-phellandrene, a-terpinene, and camphene in fruit oil, and a-pinene, benzyl benzoate, caryophyllene and a-cedrol in leaf oil.

– Leaf extract yield pinusolide, a labdane-type diterpene, and pinusolidic acid.

– Flavonoid constituents are rutin, quercitrin, quercitrin, amentoflavone.

– Study on chemical composition of leaves and fruit oils yielded 23 constituents (97.8 %) with major constituents viz. α-pinene (35.2%, 50.7%), α-cedrol (14.6%, 6.9%) and Δ-3-carene (6.3%, 13.8%), respectively. (see study below) (10)

– Study of hydrodistilled essential oil of fresh leaves yielded 32 compounds representing 96.62% of total oil identified. The main constituents were IR-α-pinene (15.92%), α-caryophyllene (10.42%), trans-ß-ocimene (8.71%), limonene (8.25%), and patchoulane (7.46%). Oil was rich in monoterpene hydrocarbons (55.04%), followed by sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (28.96%), among others. (23)

– Phytochemical screening of dried leaves yielded alkaloids, tannins, flavonoid, terpenoid, cardiac glycosides, sterols, and anthraquinones. (23)


– Traditionally considered diuretic, anticancer, anticonvulsant, stomachic, stomachic, antipyretic, analgesic, anthelmintic.

– In Chinese medicine, considered blood-cooling and hemostatic.

Parts used

Leaves, fruits, essential oils.

Folkloric traditional medicine uses and benefits

– No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.

– In Reunion, used mainly as antirheumatic: cones crushed and soaked in alcohol for 2 to 3 days, and the extract rubbed on painful joints. Decoction of small branches used for varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and menopausal problems. Also used for fever and to treat gastric ulcers.

– Used to treat scurvy.

– In Mauritius, decoction of branches and leaves used for throat inflammation, fever, influenza.

– In traditional Chinese medicine, leaves used as stomachic, refrigerant, diuretic, tonic and antipyretic. Leaves used to treat coughs, excessive mucus secretion, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis and asthma.

– In Indo-China, ground leaves used as emmenagogue and antitussive; seeds as tonic, sedative, tranquilizer, and aphrodisiac. Decoction of twigs used for dysentery, skin infections, and cough. (9)

– In East Asia, Thuja orientalis has been traditionally used for baldness and hair loss.

– In Iran, used for pain and inflammation..

Other uses

– Fragrance: Used as fragrance in the manufacture of cosmetics and soaps.

– Timber: Used for gateposts and furniture.

– Ritual: Tree held in high mystical esteem in Chinese folklore; planted within tombs of ancient emperors; seeds placed in caskets. (14)

Scientific studies on benefits and uses of tree of life or Biota

Essential Oil / Antimicrobial:

Study screened the essential oils of fresh fruits and branchlets with leaves of P. orientalis for bacteriostatic and fungistatic activities. Essential oil of leaves had no antimicrobial activity, while the essential oil from fruit showed modest and slightly antimicrobial activity against B. subtilis, C. albicans, E. coli, and S, aureus. Major constituents were a-pinene, sabinene, 3-carene, limonene, and cedrol. (3)

Essential Oil / Insecticidal:

Study evaluated the essential oil of leaves and fruits from oriental arborvitae against adults of cowpea weevil (C. maculatus), rice weevil (S. oryzae) and red flour beetle (T. castaneum). Major component of both leaves and oils were α-pinene, α-cedrol, and Δ-3-carene. Results showed leaf oils were more toxic than fruit oils against the three species of insects. (4) Study was done on the fumigant toxicity of essential oils of leaves and fruits of P. orientalis against the adults of cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne. Results showed fumigant toxicity with the leaf oil showing more toxicity than fruit oils. (see constituents above) (10)

Essential Oil / Diuretic / Antioxidant:

Essential oil of fruits and leaves were tested for diuretic activity. Results showed an increase in urinary excretion, rise in sodium excretion, with hypokalemia. Oils of both leaves and fruit restored reduced levels of glutathione in alloxan-diabetic rats, showing antioxidant activity comparable to that of vitamin E.


Ethanol extract of leaves of P. orientalis was investigated for anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma. The extract exhibited significant dose-dependent anthelmintic activity comparable to piperazine citrate. (6)


(1) Ethanol extract of leaf showed antipyretic effect in induced fever in albino rabbits. Effect comparable with standard aspirin. (2) Alcoholic extract of leaf showed dose-dependent antipyretic activity by Brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia in rats.


Total flavonoids isolated from P. orientalis showed significant anti-inflammatory effect in inflammatory rat models induced by dimethylbenze and carrageenan. Activity was attributed to decreasing the content of PGE2 and NO.


Study of leaf essential oil showed cytotoxic activity on renal adenocarcinoma cell line and against amelanotic melanoma.

Antioxidant / Antibacterial / Leaves:

Study showed of a methanol:distilled water extract of leaves showed highest antioxidant effect in a DPPH assay while crude extracts showed significant inhibitory activity against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. (8)

Hair Growth-Promoting Activity:

Study evaluated the hair growth-promoting activity of Thuja orientalis hot water extract and its underlying mechanism of action. Extract was applied topically to shaved dorsal skin of telogenic C57BL/6N mice to study the induction of the hair follicle cycle. Results showed promotion of hair growth by induction of anagen phase. Immunochemical analysis reveals earlier induction of -catenin and Shh proteins in hair follicles of the extract-treated group. Results suggest a potential as hair growth-promoting agent. (12)

Anti-Inflammatory / Blocking of NF-ikB and p38 MAPK:

Study showed the methylene chloride fraction of Thuja orientalis potentially inhibits biomarkers (LPS-induced iNOS, COX-2 protein, TNF–α and IL-6) related to inflammation in vivo and in vitro, and may be a potential candidate for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. (13)

Pinusolide / Anti-Platelet:

Pinusolide, a labdane-tye diterpene, and pinusolidic acid have been isolated from leaf extracts. Pinusolide is a potent platelet-activating factor (PAF) antagonist. In mice, study suggested value in the treatment of hypotension and pinusolide analogues with a potential as PAF specific antagonist. (9)


Chloroform fractions and pure compounds were evaluated for their ability to inhabit pro-inflammatory enzymes in vitro, and production of TNF-α and nitric oxide lipopolysaccharide stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Results showed anti-inflammatory activity probably through the inhibitory effects of the CHL and its components (hinokiol and acacetin) on 5-lipoxygenase. (14)

Diuretic / Leaves:

Study evaluated aqueous and alcoholic extracts of Platycadus orientalis leaves for diuretic activity in rats. Results showed increase in urine volume, cation and anion excretion. Furosemide was used as reference drug, (17)

Antipyretic / Leaves:

Study evaluated an alcoholic extract of leaf of Platycladus orientalis for antipyretic activity on Brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia in rats. Results showed significant dose dependent antipyretic activity (p<0.05) (18)

Antihyperlipidemic / Antioxidant in Diabetic Rats:

Study evaluated the antihyperlipidemic, antioxidant activity of aqueous extracts of P. orientalis in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Results showed potent antihyperlipidemic activity in hyperglycemic rats along with good antioxidant activity and suggests a potential for use in treating diabetic complications of hyperlipidimia. (19)

Antidiarrheal Activity:

Study evaluated iridoid glycosides isolated from a bioactive fraction for antidiarrheal activity against various experimental models. Extract inhibited castor oil-induced diarrhea and PGE-2 induced enteropooling in rats and also reduced gastrointestinal motility after charcoal meal administration. (20)

Antioxidant / Leaves:

Study evaluated T. orientalis water and alcohol extracts for reducing power, total phenolic content, DPPH scavenging activity, inhibitory effect on Fe induced DNA damage and inhibitory effect on RBC hemolysis. Results showed the extracts are rich source of natural antioxidants and can protect DNA and human red blood cells against free radical induced oxidative damage. (21) Stems: In a study of extracts of stem powder, a methanol extract exhibited good scavenging response of 74.3%, 59.51%, and 0.997% in DPPH, chelating power, and reducing power assay, respectively. (27)


Chloroform:methanol (1:1 v/v) extract of strobilus of Thuja orientalis has potential to act as a novel source of antibacterial agent. The strobilus extract showed remarkable antimicrobial activity against test fish pathogenic bacteria. (22)

Cytotoxicity / Leaves:

Study of leaves yielded to new stereoisomers (1,2) and seven known compounds. Compounds 1,2 and 4-9 were evaluated for cytotoxicity against A549 (non-small cell lung adenocarcinoma), SK-OV-3 (ovarian cancer cells), A498 (renal cell carcinoma) and HCT-15 (colon cancer cells) human tumor cell lines. (24)

Inhibition of TNF-α-Induced Vascular Inflammation:

An aqueous extract of T. orientalis was found to exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Study showed the extract can suppress TNF-α-induced inflammatory process possibly through inhibition of ROS and NF-kB activation, in HUVEC. (25)

Antinociceptive / Leaves:

Study evaluated polyphenolic and total extract of leaves of P. orientalis for antinociceptive effect in mice using acetic acid-induced writhing, formalin and light tail flick tests. Results suggest the extracts have moderate analgesic effects. (26)


– Wild-crafted.

– Essential oils from leaves, seeds, cones and wood in the cybermarket.

– Traded internationally

– Dried herbal materials, dried leaves, extract granules traded from Asia.

Link to the article source

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