Essential Oils

Tsuga or Hemlock Spruce Essential Oil

Canadian tsuga
Canadian hemlock spruce

Tsuga essential oil comes from the Canadian hemlock spruce tree (or white spruce) and should not be confused with the poisonous hemlock herb (Conium Maculatum) that contains toxic alkaloids and is not a source of essential oil. Rather, this spruce tree is in the pine family and is found primarily in Canada and Idaho. Its properties are similar to pine, and it is the needles and twigs that are used to distill the oil. It has a fresh, somewhat woody scent. It is considered to be non-toxic and is unlikely to irritate.

Tsuga is a wonderful oil for the winter months. Its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and expectorant properties make is a great choice for inhalation when you have coughs, colds, or the flu because it opens the respiratory pathways for better oxygen exchange and breaks up mucus.

You can use a few drops in a cup of boiling water for a quick steam inhalation or dilute a single drop in a teaspoon of honey for a cough remedy. Just be sure you are using pure, therapeutic grade oils that are not already diluted by a carrier oil. Tsuga should also be steam-distilled and not extracted by solvents to be safe for consumption.

Tsuga is also good for digestive disorders and diseases of the mouth, including cold sores and gingivitis. It is also helpful in kidney and bladder infections and is a mild diuretic when taken internally. Use it as an antiseptic for wounds like blisters. It will sting but helps heal the wound quickly. It is even recommended for pimples and acne. You may find it in OTC treatments for sore muscles, or you can use the essential oil neat or diluted as a muscle rub for rheumatism, arthritis, or over-exertion.

Tsuga blends well with a variety of other oils, including pine, cedarwood, and rosemary, as well as lavender, clary sage, and amyris. When using on the skin, be sure to dilute with a carrier oil like jojoba, but use it without a carrier in your diffuser or aromatherapy necklace. I was unable to find specific information about Tsuga and pets, but because it is in the pine family, I would probably avoid using it in a room where I kept my fur baby.


  • Spastic Cough: Mix 10 drops Tsuga, 3 drops Roman Chamomile, and 4 drops Bergamot into 1 ounce carrier oil. Massage into the chest several times daily.
  • Pain/Anti-Inflammatory Liniment: Mix 6 drops Helichrysum, 2 drops Tsuga, 2 drops Hyssop, 2 drops Peppermint, 2 drops Juniper, 1 ounce carrier oil. Gently massage into sore tissues and joints.
  • Outdoor Fresh Diffuser Blend: Mix 3 drops Tsuga, 3 drops Cedarwood, and 3 drops Balsam Fir into your diffuser tank filled with distilled water. Adjust if necessary for the size of your diffuser.
  • Focus-Boosting Diffuser Blend: Add 3 drops each of hemlock spruce oil, rosemary oil, and peppermint oil to your diffuser. Adjust if necessary for the size of your diffuser.