The Sleuth Journal

An Herb For Thought: Pine

PINE

When European settlers came to the continent and were suffering from scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, the Native Americans introduced them to pine needle tea. It is believed that this tree has originated from Austria and Russia and then spread to different parts of the world. Pine needle tea is a centuries-old healing remedy for Native Americans. They filled mattresses with pine needles to repel certain parasites. The tea extracted from pine needles is regularly used by natives, hunters, and explorers in nearly every region around the globe. Pine oil has also been used to treat lung infections.

The healthy fats contained in pine nuts work to balance the lipids inside the blood and in cell formation. These processes both work to lower triglyceride, or fat storage, levels within the body. In turn, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help reduce the risk of heart disease by maintaining healthy blood pressure and fat count. One ounce of pine nuts contains nearly 9500 mg of the Omega 6 fatty acids while also containing about 30 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids. This high amount of healthy fats nearly cancels out the mere 1 to 2 grams of saturated fat found in each serving of pine nuts.

Health Benefits of Pine Tea

The tea has a pleasant smell and taste. This tea is so mild and originally sweet that you may not need sugar.
It can be taken with sugar, honey, and even peppermint.

For Cancer

Pine needle tea has strong antimutagenic, antioxidant and antiproliferative properties, which help in preventing cancer producing cells. Along with that, they also have anti-tumor effects on the body. Adding white tea to a diet that includes a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods may assist in the prevention, occurrence or recurrence of some cancers. Antioxidant power abounds in white teas, including the silver needle variety. Augment the diet with frequent sips of white tea to enhance the immune system. White tea is thought to contain more antioxidants than other teas due to the lack of processing of this tea type.

For Cold

Try pine needle tea to relieve wintertime colds and respiratory infections. Drinking a cup of pine needle tea may help the body expel phlegm causing the congestion of colds or coughs. Pine needles are strongly aromatic and even just inhaling the vapors from the tea may break up mucus in the lungs.

For Scurvy

Its vitamin C content makes it as good a cure for scurvy as citrus fruits. Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever and death.

For Sclerosis

Pine Tree Needle Extraction is a traditional remedy that may be used in the treatment of about 80% of human diseases. The remedy is effective for working with the smooth muscles that line the blood vessels and other muscular related diseases such as sclerosis, a condition in which soft tissues inside the body become unusually hard.

For Flu

White pine needles help fight disease. The needles are anti viral because contain high amounts of shikimic acid, from which Tamiflu is derived.

As Digestive Aid

A cup of silver needle white tea during meals can soothe a touchy stomach. It may be just the remedy for those who suffer with minor digestion discomforts. The silver needle tea, sometimes called silver tip white tea, aids the digestive processes. Consult a medical or health practitioner before drinking white tea for digestive disturbances.

Alternative to Caffeine

For those who don’t need or want a strong dose of caffeine to help them wake up, silver needle white tea may be the right alternative. This purest form of the tea family has less caffeine than its green, black and oolong family members. One cup of silver needle white tea contains 1 percent of the caffeine contained in a cup of coffee.

For weight loss

Drinking white tea, including the rare silver needle variety, may well help you trim the fat. A German study published in the May 2009 issue of the “Nutrition and Metabolism” medical journal found that white tea effectively assists the body to better metabolize lipids, or fats.

For Aging

The tea has many benefits; cleans the veins, increases the strength and vitality and helps in reversing or slowing the aging process. Pine needle tea was known to be used by Taoist priests to promote longevity.

For Skin

It also has a healing effect on the endocrine system, and aids the body in cleansing impurities from the skin.
Pine needles contain a high level of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) which is a natural form of sulfur. This acts in a detoxifying way to the body. Sulfur is also essential to various parts of the body like the skin, hair and nails.

For Bath

Pine needle tea may also be useful as a bath infusion. Pour it in the tub and soak for relief of cramped muscles and sore joints. Sometimes pine needle tea is also recommended in the bath to treat rheumatism and gout. However, there is no conclusive clinical evidence to support using pine needle tea in the bath to treat these conditions.

For Clearness

Pine needle tea brings you clarity and mental clearness when you drink it. Pine hydrosol is an immune-stimulant and body tonic, enhancing overall mental and physical balance.

For Urinary Infections

Pine needles are also antiseptic and may help heal infections in the urinary system.

Relieves Menopause Symptoms

Women who are going through menopause and have consumed this tea have exhibited less fatigue and tiredness.

As a Disinfectant

Pine oil, added to the household cleaner, will disinfect surfaces and help to purify the air.

For other conditions

It is also beneficial to fight ailments like fatigue, allergies, depression, kidney stone, varicose veins, ulcers and headaches. So also, it helps in promoting better eyesight.

How to make pine tea

The type of tree ideal for pine tea is the White Pine. Pick at least 1 cup of fresh, green pine needles. The freshest ones will be bright in color, and will give the best taste to the tea. Rinse them in fresh water to clean off any surface dirt. Chop the pine needles into small pieces. Measure 3 cups of water in a large measuring cup. Pour the water into a saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Place the pine needles on a chopping board. Chop the needles into small pieces. Remove any faded or imperfect needles. Add the chopped pine needles to the water as soon as it comes to a boil. Stir the needles in the water with a wooden spoon. Bring the water to a simmer; let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t over boil the tea; doing so will lessen its amount of vitamin C. Steep the tea mixture for an additional 20 minutes. Add the juice squeezed from one lemon to the tea if you like. You may let the tea steep overnight; it will be a deep reddish color and taste stronger if you do. Strain the pine needles out of the tea. Pour into cups and sweeten with a teaspoon of sugar, honey or maple syrup, if desired.

Pine tea – Side effects and cautions

Despite its long history of use, there is no conclusive clinical evidence to support the health benefits of pine needle tea. Do not use it to replace conventional treatments, and talk to the doctor before using any alternative medicines.

Caution: Women who are pregnant, or who could become pregnant, are advised NOT to drink pine needle tea in general for fear it could cause abortion.

Varieties to be avoided

Most conifers are safe to experiment with tea preparations, but there are three you must avoid! There are only a few varieties of pine that are toxic and they are: Norfolk Island Pine, Yew and Ponderosa Pine. Avoid these by researching what they look like before you pick pine needles.

Pine Oil

Pine oil, obtained by extracting essential oils from the needles of pine trees, is a strong medicinal aid. Similar to tea tree and eucalyptus oil, extracts of pine are powerful anti-septic agents. It also holds anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, insecticidal, analgesic, diuretic, aromatic and anti-inflammatory properties.

For Bronchial Infections

Studies have shown the usefulness of pine oil in relieving bronchial infections. As a powerful antibacterial agent and antiseptic, it can help the body fight off infections. As an aromatherapy tool, it may be used to help prevent lower respiratory infections like bronchitis. Research collections from the University of Maryland Medical Center have demonstrated that its use for respiratory tract infections is solid and effective. Research also shows that use of pine oil may fight off sinus infections and colds when used as a steam inhalation.

As An Anti-inflammatory

Because of its potent analgesic properties, pine oil acts as an anti-inflammatory for people with joint pain, arthritis and rheumatism. Used topically, it may also help relieve general muscular aches and pains. Add to a hot bath, or to a base massage oil, such as almond or coconut.

As an Expectorant

Essential pine oil may also help relieve congestion and acts as an expectorant, aiding the body to break up mucus and remove it from the lungs. It also helps reduce the incidence of sinus infections.

For Skin Care

Pine oil may be useful with a variety of skin conditions due to its strong antiseptic capacities. This includes psoriasis, acne, boils, Athlete’s foot, eczema and itching. Applied topically, it can also be used for a remedy of the scalp, especially in cases of dryness and dandruff.

The most important health benefit of pine essential oil is in treating various skin problems. Dermatologists often prescribe the oil in treating psoriasis, itching, pimples, eczema, skin diseases, poor skin, scabies, sores, and fleas. It gives you a balanced, smooth, renewed and shinny skin.

For Stress Disorder

The health benefits of pine oil also include some emotional benefits. It gives an energizing feeling and hence it is effective in removing mental stress. It is also used as a medicine for removing adrenal fatigue and refreshes the spirits as it is an excellent mood elevator. Regular massage with pine essential oil gives you mental clarity. It removes anxiety and nervous tension, and is useful for people suffering from loss of concentration and loss of memory.

For Aromatherapy

Pine oil stimulates the body and mind, and has an energizing effect on the overall person. As an aromatherapy agent, it has been used to support adrenal fatigue and mild depression. The numerous health benefits of pine essential oil have made it one of the most important essential oils used in aromatherapy. Pine essential oil blends well with many other oils including cedarwood, rosemary, lavender, sage, laudanum, juniper, etc., and hence can be widely used in making numerous aromatherapy preparations.

As an Anti-oxidant

Through neutralizing free-radicals, pine oil helps us slow the process of cellular deterioration, thus slowing the process of aging. Anti-oxidants aid in protecting us from, eye-diseases, muscle degeneration, as well as many nervous-system disorders.

For Protection from infection

With regular use, pine oil may help protect us against many types of fungal infections. It also holds anti-bacterial properties. This essential oil may aid in the prevention of common bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and skin infections.

As an Anti-Viral Agent

Pine nut oil may also aid in protecting us against the common cold and flu. Following a balanced diet, and plenty of foods high in vitamin c is also a great way to prevent colds.

Increases Metabolism

Pine essential oil also increases metabolism and thus boosts the activity levels. It is also helpful in purifying the body due to its ability to treat intestinal problems. It is diuretic and helps in removing water from the body. It is also used in case of food poisoning.

For Gall Stones

Pine essential oil is effective in reducing the inflammation of gall bladder and incidence of gallstones.

In Cosmetics

Pine essential oil also has a mesmerizing essence and hence gives a sweet aroma to the cosmetics it is used in. It is also used in making perfumes and scents. It is also used in removing lice from hair. Pine essential oil is widely used as massage oil and bath oil. Hence it is used in soap making. Pine oil is also added in many household products due to its aroma. These include room sprays, volatile liquids and room fresheners.

As a Disinfectant

It is a great cleaning agent, and can be added to sprays and room-fresheners for a cleansing and brightening effect. Pine oil disinfectants have been shown to be effective in killing off many household germs, including mildew, yeast spores and E. coli.

For Injuries

Pine essential oil is antiseptic and hence it is used in treating boils, cuts, sports injuries, and athletes foot.

Usage of Pine Oil

Add 4-6 drops of undiluted pine essential oil to warm bath water or dilute at 50/50 ratio with organic coconut oil or olive oil and apply to chest for respiratory distress. You can also put it in an aromatherapy diffuser.

Cautions & Side Effects of Pine Oil

Essential pine oil should be used with care, as it is very powerful. If left undiluted, it may irritate skin and mucous membranes. Internal consumption may be hazardous to human health and can be dangerous as there is a possibility of kidney damage. It should also not be given to people who are suffering from kidney disorders. Further, pine essential oil can cause irritations on highly sensitive skin. Hence it must be used in diluted form. Children and elderly people should not be given pine essential oil as it may cause hypertension.