Historical books tell of pioneers making a tea from pine needles in order to keep their children fed during harsh winter condition in the Rocky Mountains, when food supplies had run low. I have always wondered, did they know that pine needle tea would sustain life, or did they boil the needles out of desperation? As most books suggested the latter, I did not think of pine needles as an herb worth studying until they appeared unexpectedly in a story I was writing.
My initial research was none too deep. After looking in my favorite herbal books and finding nothing, I headed out to a pine tree in my yard, and began muscle testing for ways in which the pine needles would be useful to me.
Do not use pine needle tea if pregnant or considering pregnancy. Some have linked pine needle tea to miscarriages.
Through muscle testing, I found pine needles to be:
- anti fungal
- anti bacterial
- anti viral
- useful in relieving sore muscles
- stimulating to the liver
- an astringent for the bladder
- relaxing to the mind/stress relieving
- helpful in restoring overall balance to the body
Armed with this information, I gathered a handful of pine needles and defused them in some oil. This was good for topical applications, such as massaging my husbands back and feet.
I also put some pine needles in a jar with water, on a candle warmer, and experimented with the sent. I found it to be stress reliving and calming. Mixing it with lavender and orange peel made for a very pleasant, uplifting smell, that helped to chase away the winter blues. The children studied better when I kept a batch simmering.
"Jacques Cartier, in his book, “Voyages to Canada” (1534-5), credited a herbal tea made form the needles and bark of the Anneda Tree, a Canadian pine tree, with saving the lives of his crew when they were stranded by ice on the St. Lawrence River. Of his 110-man crew, 25 were dead, 50 were seriously ill and the remainder of the crew were too weak to even bury the dead. All looked lost until they were rescued by friendly Quebec Indians who were experts on the medicinal properties of the local plants. The Indians told the Frenchmen how to brew a tea from the bark and needles of pine trees growing in the area. They tried the tea on two of the sickest crewmembers; they improved so quickly that Cartier gave the tea to all the surviving members of his crew. All the crewmembers recovered from the dreaded scurvy due to this tea." -Pine Tree Bark or Needles
Pine Needle Tea
Happy with the initial results, it was time to try it as a tea. My sister, Fern, and I wandered around my parent's farm, muscle testing a wide variety of pine trees.
Each kind had it's own properties, strengths and degrees of usefulness. Somewhere best as a tea, some would be strongest, used in an oil, and others would deliver the most smoked.
The Blue Spruce tested to be most useful in chasing away the flu, while the Ponderosa pine had the best mix of uses. The Australian pine and a shrub pine, whose identity had been forgotten where more useful than the Blue Spruce, but less so than the Ponderosa.
We gathered a few needles from the Ponderosa and made our tea. The aroma was delightful. The taste pleasant, and within half an hour, we were ready for sleep. Muscle testing showed the tea to be chasing toxins out of our bodies, and sleep would allow it to work better. We each drank about half a cup, made with two needles.
In the morning, we determined to try some more pine needle tea. This time we found it refreshing and a nice change of pace from our normal routine coffee.
How To Make Pine Needle Tea
To make pine needle tea, gather a small handful of pine needles from a tree which grows away from pollution.
Cut the needles into 3/4" lengths. You will need 1 teaspoon of needles for each 1 cup of hot water.
Pour boiling water over pine needles, cover, and steep for 15-20 minutes.
I recommend drinking your first cup or two before bed, in case it knows you out, the way it did my sister and I.
The pine needles can be dried out and reused several times. I have found the latter uses to be more invigorating.
Satisfied with my own research, I began to look at what others had to say, concerning the use of pine needles.
- Pine needles are rich in Vitamin C. Thus, its usefulness in preventing scurvy. The Vitamin C is readily available to the body when made into a tea, especially when pine bark is included. Pine bark contains flavonoids, which enhances the functions of the Vitamin C. The blend is know as Pycnogenol.*
- Pine needles have a long history of use as a pain reliever for arthritis, aches, pains and sore muscles. Mattresses filled with pine needles are used for treating rheumatic ailments, in Switzerland.
- Native Americans filled mattresses with pine needles to repel fleas and lice.
- Native Americans used pine oils to treat lung infections. Today, pine oils are used mainly as an anti-infectious, antimicrobial agent in colds, flu, urinary and viral infections. Pine needle oil has been used to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and for digestive disorders.
- They also added pine oil to baths, to revitalize those suffering from mental or emotional fatigue.
- Pine oil, added to your household cleaner, will disinfect surfaces and help to purify the air.
- Pine needles bring relief to conditions such as heart disease, heart ailments, varicose veins, fatigue, kidney aliments, sclerosis, they also gives you better eyesight and smoother skin.
- Cancer patients drink pine needle tea to make them feel better.
- Pycnogenol is known for it's ability to stop free radical damage. This helps the internal body maintain its youth and it is considered an oral cosmetic for what it can do to maintain youthful skin.
- Pycnogenol inhibits the natural enzymes of the body to restore collagen. All cells in the human body are glued together with collagen. By restoring collagen, Pycnogenol helps return flexibility to skin, joints, arteries, capillaries and other tissues.
- Pycnogenol strengthens the entire arterial system and improves circulation. It reduces capillary fragility and develops skin smoothness and elasticity.
- Pycnogenol has been used successfully for diabetic retinopathy, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. It is one of the few dietary anti-oxidants that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier to directly protect brain cells and aid memory.
Note: As far as I know, none of these statements are approved by the FDA.
The reason pine needles are anti viral is because they contain high amounts of shikimic acid, from which Tamifu is derived. Tamiflu is the number one anti viral agent against pandemics, as approved by the FDA.
- Pine Essential Oil Medicinal Uses:Pinus sylvestris
The key uses of pine oil are as an anti-infectious, antimicrobial agent in colds, flu, urinary and viral infections and as a pain reliever
- Pine Tree Bark or Needles Pinus Maritima
Pine Needles, container rich assorted bioflavonoid, Proanthocyanidins (Pycnogenol), enhances Vitamin C. Used for diabetic retinopathy, reduces capillary fragility, improves circulation.
- botanical.com - A Modern Herbal | Pine
Providing botanical, folk-lore and herbal information, plus organic herbs, and herbal products.
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