Pine Needle (Pinus sylvestris)
A few of the health benefits of pine needles are the high levels of vitamin A which makes it wonderful for the skin and its extremely high levels of vitamin C (in fact several times more than that of a lemon or a glass of orange juice). Pine needles and their high vitamin C levels help to boost the immune system which in turn helps to fight off infections.
The benefits of pine needle tea include maximizing the immune system, improving vision, preventing respiratory infections, stimulating circulation, avoiding chronic disease, increasing cognitive performance, strengthening heart health, and speeding healing. With more than a hundred varieties of pine trees in North America alone, you must use the correct pine needles, as some varieties may contain toxins or cause negative side effects.
And although pine needles may not be FDA approved, they have been successfully used by indigenous people of northern regions of the Americas and Europe for centuries (or likely even longer) to combat symptoms of scurvy, which becomes present with low levels of vitamin C.
Other ailments pine is known to help:
- chest congestion
- sore throat
- fights depression/ anxiety
- improves mental clarity
- improves adrenal function
- calms the nervous system
- lowers blood pressure
- aids in preventing weight gain
- powerful insecticidal to help keep bed bugs, fleas or lice away
Cognitive Function: Early studies on the effect of this potent tea on neurodegenerative diseases have shown promising results. An animal study showed that it can be very effective against memory impairment or amnesia. The antioxidants in this tea can help repair neural connections and improve memory.
Heart health: Pine needle tea may be good for your heart. Research has shown that it protects against LDL oxidation, a condition that can threaten your cardiovascular health. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties which further help in minimizing any damage on your heart due to pollutants or other factors.
May Aid Weight Loss: Pine needle tea shows some of the same potentials as green and black tea. Research shows that it may help in weight loss. A Korean study on rats and overweight humans found that pine needle extract along with green and black tea reduced body weight gain and visceral fat mass.
Respiratory Conditions: Pine needle tea was often used by indigenous cultures for treating respiratory problems. The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World records how the Native Americans used white pine for its expectorant and decongestant qualities.
Rich in Antioxidants: Pine needle tea could be a very rich source of antioxidants, essential for fighting free radicals, chronic conditions, and preventing diseases. According to research published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, a water extract from pine needles showed a high level of antioxidants and DNA-protective properties.
Vision health: Pine needle tea is also believed to contain vitamin A. Together with vitamin C, it can improve our vision. Vitamin C is good for aging eyes, giving it antioxidant protection against normal pollutants. Vitamin A is essential for our cornea and in improving vision.
DIY PINE HOUSEHOLD CLEANER
Pack a jar half to two thirds full of pine needles and cover them with white vinegar. Let this sit and infuse for 4-6 weeks. If you want a stronger pine smell, stain the pine needles out and compost while packing the jar full again and repeat the infusion process again. You will have a very strong pine vinegar.
Using a spray bottle use your pine infused vinegar as an all-purpose cleaning solution diluted down with water. Great for cleaning windows, surfaces anything. If you would like an antibacterial cleaner add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil as well.
PINE & CALENDULA FACE AND BODY OIL
The fact that pine needles are packed so full of vitamins and minerals makes them a great plant to use in beauty and skincare. High amounts of vitamins both A and C make it wonderful for anti-aging and overall skin health.
To make Pine oil, pack a jar half to two thirds full of cleaned and dry pine needles. Fill the jar full of your choice of oil. Olive oil make s a great oil for dry or mature skin, grapeseed or almond oil make great options for sensitive skin. With a lid on the jar place in a sunny place for 4-6 weeks then strain out pine needles.
Mix half and half with a freshly infused Calendula Oil. Using Calendula together with pine infused oils will have amazing anti-aging, skin cell repairing, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and healing effects. Use this super-rich potion of pine and calendula oil for almost everything face and body! Oil method make-up removal, after bath face & body oil, put in the bath as a bath oil. Or use as the base of a healing salve or face cream!
STOVE TOP DIFFUSED PINE
All you really need is your plant material in this case pine needles, along with any other plants you wish to use. Fill a small pot 3/4 full of water, toss in your plants or herbs, and put it on a burner over low.
Some of the plant combos that are useful:
Immune boosting- pine, clove & cinnamon (decongestant, anti-viral, circulatory stimulant)
Winter friendly- pine, sage & bay (refreshing, antidepressant, uplifting)
Tranquility- pine, juniper berries & lavender (refreshing, healing, calming)
This method of diffusing plant power into the air uses much less plant material than traditional essential oils and it puts a little extra humidity into the air which is always helpful when feeling under the weather.
Beware of the Wrong Pine Needle
There are 20 known toxic varieties of pine trees, so do thorough research or acquire pine needles from a trained herbalist or natural medicine practitioner. Some of the most well known toxic varieties include the ponderosa pine, balsam fir, lodgepole, and Monterey pines. There are also quite a few trees that are commonly called “pine trees”, but are in fact toxic imitators, such as the English Yew, Norfolk island pine, and the Yew pine. Avoid using any these when brewing your tea.
For pregnant women: The USDA cautioned against the ingestion of ponderosa pine needles. Given the toxicity of some pine species, it is best to avoid drinking this tea if you are pregnant.
Allergy: You should also be aware of any potential allergies to pine trees. Pine oil that is released when brewing the tea, can have inflammatory effects on the skin and stomach, resulting in stomach upset in some people. Given these possible side-effects, it is recommended that you only try about half a cup in the beginning.