Thursday, April 11, 2013


Pine-Pinus Sylvestris, Pinus Strobus, Pinus Ponderosa, etc.

There are over 100 different species of evergreen trees, and many species of pine amongst them, some of which are white pine, scotch pine, ponderosa pine, deal pine, limber pine ad lodgepole pine.

Parts used: inner bark, pine needle, cones, seeds, sap, resin

Meridians/Organs affected:  liver, kidneys, bladder, skin, muscles, joints, lungs, heart, arteries

Properties:  used as an expectorant, demulcent, antiseptic, stimulant, sudorific, restorative, analgesic, anodyne, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antidepressant, aromatic, depurant, antifungal

These lovely evergreens can get up to 115 feet tall with reddish brown to brown and gray bark.  They are the only northern tree believed to have survived the Ice Age and can withstand temps of 40 degrees below or more.  In fact, the largest evergreen forest in the world is in the Artic. 

For your information:
Native to northern Europe and Russia, evergreens can now be found worldwide.  The Greeks would often construct their ships of pine and give them as gifts to Neptune, the god of the sea.  Once found all over Scotland and used as masts for hulking sea vessels, the pine is now a rare find there (so I have read).  The farther north the tree grows, the more potent the oil becomes (distilled from the twigs, cones and needles).

The medicinal uses of pine go back just as far as the culural ones.  In some cultures, the branches were placed on graves of loved ones as a sign of immortality.  The Japanese revere it as a symbol of constancy (as it stays forever green).  Hippocrates used it for throat and pulmonary infectons.  Pliny touted its use for respiratory system.  The Arabs used it to help with pneumonia and lung illnesses.  The Native Americans would used pine needles in their beds to repel fleas and lice and in bath to revitalize the body and ease aching muscles.  Dr. LeClerc stated that pine is not only useful for respiratory infections but also for urinary infections, rheumatoid conditions and the flu.

Pine is another one of those herbs that is what is termed an adaptogen.  It will give the body what it needs at the time.  As it is an anodyne/analgesic it can assist the body with the discomfort associated with gout, sciatica, etc.  It has also been used for prostate disorders, eczema, psoriasis and cystitis.  Due to its stimulative qualities it aids the body in detoxifying the kidneys and liver.  As a negative result of these same qualities pine may also raise blood pressure so those who are on hypertension medication should avoid it.

Some Native American tribes used the tea from pine needles as a contraceptive.  The inner bark was used as a dressing for scalds, burns and skin infections.  (The bark was often removed from one side of the tree ONLY so as to avoid killing the tree).  The edible inner bark was scraped from the tough outer bark and eaten immediately (it is said to be sweet in the spring when the sap is running).  The Native Americans would also collect the inner bark and, if not ingesting immediately, would keep it moist in bags for a few days.  (Too much of the inner bark can also cause stomach aches as it is not easily digested raw, it was usually boiled for this purpose).  The seeds are high in fat and protein and can taste a bit resinous.  They were shaken or roasted from the cones and ground into meal for bread.  The young male cones (unopened) can be boiled for emergency-type food.  (There is some debate over the Ponderosa pine-some say it is highly toxic while others say it is highly medicinal-so, when in doubt, avoid that one as there are plenty of other varieties of pine to choose from).  The young needles of the tree can make an excellent tea and will prevent scurvy as they are high in vitamin A and C.  The tea is best sweetened with honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses and/or spiced with orange peel, cinnamon or nutmeg.  The Navajo used pine tea for fevers and coughs, and to expel phlegm and mucus from the lungs.  Pitch was also used as glue, to waterproof woven containers, plastered in hair for dandruff and burned in torches.  Pine pitch was also applied to arthritic joints, skin infections, sore muscles and any area of inflammation.  It was also heated until it turned black, then mixed with bone marrow (1 part marrow to 4 parts sap/pitch) and used as a salve for burns.

The lodgepole pine was used for tipis and lodges (replaced yearly) and the Plains Indians would often travel hundreds of miles to the mountains to get more poles (25-30 poles per tipi-depending on the size).  The lodgepole pine also was used for making the travois (a simplified pull-type sled) so it was quite popular and still maintains that popularity today as many log homes are constructed using the lodgepole pines.

Pine sap gum has been chewed to clean teeth and as a temporary filling for a toothache.
The resin was used in salves for abscesses, boils, aching backs, rheumatics joints, etc.  The resin has also been used in cough syrups and in ointments for burns and skin infections, in a poultice to draw out splinters and for use on broken bones, cuts, bruises, etc.

Pine oil makes one of the best external treatments for relief from such things as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, coughs, nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys-applied directly to the area), etc.  Pine oil is often adulterated with turpentine (which is actually a part of pine but is distilled off during the proper essential oil making process), so if not making your own, be sure to get 'Pinus Sylvestris' from either Finland or Siberia.  Those are the only unadulterated varieties I have found to date. 

Tar is an impure turpentine made primarily by the destructive distillation of the roots of pine.  Tar is ALSO used medicinally as an antiseptic, diuretic, stimulant and diaphoretic, mostly by vets.  Tar water is given to horses with chronic coughs and tar oil is used for mange.

Combined with uva ursi, poplar bark and marshmallow root, pine is great for diabetes.  A study conducted by Russian scientists found that pine resin inhibited antibodies found in bodily fluids and boosted cellular immunity.  The Colonial Americans used the resin from the spruce tree as a cancer treatment (straight from the tree).  Physicians from the same time period aso used the tar water or ground pine resin in water for smallpox, ulcers and syphilis.  The Chippewa Indians used it successfully for gangrenous wounds.  Pine bark contains one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, proanthocyanidins (20 times stronger than vitamin C and 50 times stronger than vitamin E) and is second only to grapeseeds in its capacity to fight free radicals.  The primary use of proanthocyanidins is for venous and capillary disorders (retinopathy, varicose veins and macular degeneration as a few examples) but has also shown significant power as an aid for strokes (not for those on hypertensive meds) and heart disease. It has also been shown to lower blood cholesterol.  Other, more recent studies, have also shown it can increase one's oxygen uptake. 

The French have used pine bark extract (which contains resveratrol) since 1950 for coronary issues.  Recent studies also show that patients with osteoarthritis showed a 50 percent improvement when given daily doses of pine bark extract as opposed to those taking a placebo.

Pine cones have been used to make beautiful orange-yellow dye or brown dye depending on the mordants involved (iron and alum in these cases).

Whatever the reason, it is clear that pine has a place in the world of medicinal plants.   It is often overlooked as it is a tree rather than a shrub or a bush.  I think if anything we should take a page from the book of the native americans and drink a cup of pine tea every now and then to provide our immune system with the stimulus it sometimes needs to keep us healthy. 

More than just a Christmas usual I have provided you with some links below to some items or information you might be interested in.  I do have many wonderful recipes for this tree and if you are interested please email me directly.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Good Day! Your blog is informative however I just want to clarify something about the pine needles as a contraceptive. Does it permanently make a women impotent for the rest of her life?

  3. Good Day! Your blog is informative however I just want to clarify something about the pine needles as a contraceptive. Does it permanently make a women impotent for the rest of her life?