PINE

Pinus spp.

Common Name: Pine, White Pine, Tree of Peace, Pin, Scotch Pine, Swiss Mountain Pine
Family: Pinaceae
Part/s Used: Needles, young buds, twigs, inner bark, sap, resin, nuts, pollen
Energetics: Grounding, drying, warming, secondary cooling and stimulating
Taste: Pungent, earthy
Actions: Antibacterial, antiseptic, stimulant, tonic, carminative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, diaphoretic, antioxidant, cardio protective, neuroprotective
Organ system affinity: Respiratory tract, circulatory system, integumentary system
Constituents: Resins, tannins, terpenes, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, volatile oils, monomeric, flavonoids, flavanones, vanillic acid, linalool, eugenol 
Tissue State: Cold/depression
Planet: Saturn/Mars
Element: Air/Fire
Symbolism: Birth, abundance, health, fertility, fortune, love
Herblore: Meditate under a pine tree or walk through the pine forest to gain new perspective on a situation and emerge with a new sense of purpose

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture: Fresh:1:5  Dry (ratio & % alcohol): 1:5 95% 
Drops: 5-30  Times a day: 3x

Tea: Infusion/decoction 1-2 tbsp pine needles/bark to 1 cup water. Simmer for 20 min 
Ounces: 8-12  Times a day: 4x

Habitat and Botanical Description:  

Pines are a common, evergreen, coniferous tree that grows between 10-260 feet tall. Pine is native to the northern hemisphere and in some parts of the southern hemisphere. They are incredibly resilient and can live in a variety of environments including some of the coldest and hottest places on earth. There are over 100 species of pine around the world and most have recorded medicinal uses. Pine, when left to grow freely can live up to 1000 years. In the white mountains of California there is a bristlecone pine confirmed to be one of the worlds oldest trees in existence, about 5,000 years old. 

The needles of Pine grow in whorls and range from bright green to blue-green in color. Most pines have both male and female cones on the same tree. The male cones are always small and present in the spring while the female cones take 1.5-3 years to mature after pollination. Pine is a wonderful ornamental for the garden and serves as a great windbreak.

Medicinal Uses: 

 Pine is warming and gently stimulating useful for stagnation during the winter months. Cultures around the world including native people have used the needles, inner bark and resin for coughs, colds, allergies, urinary and sinus infections. When Europeans first arrived in America, they reportedly followed the wisdom of the natives and drank the tea to ward off disease.  Modern herbalists still consider it to be an excellent remedy for low immunity.
 
The fresh needles and buds are picked in the spring when they are soft and the highest in Vitamin C. Their diuretic properties help to increase urination and flush out any unwanted bacteria in the urinary tract. The needles fresh or dried make an excellent tea and a valuable medicine for breaking up phlegm in the lungs. Combine with fresh sprigs of thyme, peppermint, and catnip and sip throughout the day to alleviate cold symptoms. Pine is highly aromatic and preparing a steam inhalation helps to deepen our breathing. Burning pine or diffusing the essential oil helps to cleanse and purify the air by killing germs and microbes that cause odor and sickness. 
 
Pine bark contains more resin and is more astringent than the needles. Traditionally used as an antimicrobial wash and infused in bath water for muscle aches and pains. A strong decoction is a remedy for colds and coughs though not as pleasant tasting as the needles. Best to decoct the bark and the needles for a more pleasant tasting medicine.

The pine resin, also called pine pitch is a wonderful addition to the home apothecary. All pines yield a resin in different quantities. The resin seeps from the cuts and scratches of the tree and contains protective anti-microbial properties. It can be gently heated and used as an epoxy resin to draw out splinters and toxins left from poisonous bites and stings. Pine pitch resin can be made into a salve is also helpful to lessen the pain in muscle aches and inflammation. The presence of resin often indicates a respiratory action. The resins penetrate the respiratory tract, attach themselves to the mucous, loosen it up and brings it to the surface. The extract of the resin in grain alcohol can be used in the spring to clear mucous membranes and any dampness leftover in the lungs from winter.  A pea size amount of the resin can be swallowed to help with expectoration.

Pine pollen is a potent forest medicine. A superfood providing a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids helping to boost one’s immune system, energy, mood, and vitality. Pine pollen is an excellent supplement for both men and women alike but does have an affinity for the male reproductive system. An excellent tonic for older men to maintain testosterone levels, or when levels are low to begin with. Pine pollen is not an anabolic steroid, and it is important to note that it will not boost testosterone in younger men.

Pine nuts, like the rest of the pine tree are very nutritious. They are rich in vitamins such as B1, B2, B6. E, C, D2, D3, as well as nicotinamide, folic acid, B-carotin, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, copper, zinc and selenium.
 
Energetically, Pine may be helpful for people who are quick to blame themselves or wallow in excessive guilt in a way that is unhelpful for their own growth. 

Harvesting:

Pine needles and young buds are best collected with the twigs in the spring. The needles can be collected year-round; but flavor will vary based on the season. Newer growth has a better taste and higher terpene concentration. Harvesting pine bark causes damage to the tree and should only be harvested from trees that have recently fallen or been cut. Harvesting even a little, scars the tree for life and harvesting too much will kill the tree altogether. Harvest the resin year around by pulling or cutting off resin from small branches or existing wounds. Collect the pollen from male cones in the early spring or summer by placing bags over the catkins and giving it a shake.

Projects:

Pine tip syrup, Pine pitch salve, herbal bath, marinades, wreaths, Pine cone bird feeders, fire starters

Recommended products:

Dram Pine Syrup
Root & Bones Pine Pollen
Bach Pine Flower Essence

Contraindications: 

While pine species are considered safe, the pollen of pine is a common allergy. Take pollen with caution for the first time to ensure there are no allergic reactions. Avoid strong tea or resin in cases of kidney inflammation as frequent use can further irritation. There is not enough evidence to support the use of pine in pregnancy and lactation though there are some historical notes of its use. Use caution when using tincture of pine resin to avoid causing gastrointestinal upset. Start with a low dose and increase gradually.

 

Yes this at least I find is surely mine
After a long hard journey and mighty cities seen
The pure sweet scent of southern long-leafed pine
Into my nostrils breathes, soft, rich and clean
-John Gould Fletcher

 

Resources:

A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve
Northwest School for Botanical Studies. Class notes. Christa Sinadinos
Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger
The Complete Herbs Sourcebook by David Hoffmann
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore