Our yard is lined with beautiful pine trees and over the past few weeks my grandmother has been asking for me to “cut the tips off of the new growth” when they are ready. She has arthritis and different types of ailments typical of a hard-working woman in her 80s, and always using traditional remedies (she is a Polish immigrant) to help the control inflammation or pain. I had to get to the bottom of how good pine really was for you, and all of this research has totally lead me to believe that pine is one of the most undervalued natural sources of nutrients and medicinal properties of our generation.
For centuries people have been using evergreen trees or shrubs as food and as natural remedies. Not only are most parts of the tree edible, but pine trees offer us so much in terms of nutrition and medicinal benefits. Pine nuts (found in the cones) are harvested for food, pine needles are used to make teas and liquors, used as oils, and the bark, sap and resins are also used by herbalists and aromatherapists alike for everything from stimulating the respiratory system, decongesting the lungs, boosting the immune system, balancing hormones, and bringing circulation and warmth to cold muscles and stiff joints. Pine is an antiseptic that can be used internally to support the body in a speedy recovery. In respiratory infections where thick mucus is present, it works to draw phlegm up and out of the lungs. It’s also been used externally to draw out toxins or objects embedded in the skin. Even the pollen of pine trees is well known in traditional Chinese medicine. I mean, anyone who has smelled fresh-cut Christmas tree branches already knows that their amazing scent alone is a medicine all its own—centering and calming, reducing stress and exhaustion, while at the same time invigorating and warming our bodies.
Pine (I’m talking mostly about pollen, needles and resin) contain 18 amino acids and has a ton of minerals including iron, antioxidants, flavonoids and a ton of different types of B vitamins along with beta carotene and vitamins A, C, D & E. They contain anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular-protecting, triglyceride-reducing properties as well. Pine needles are one of the richest sources of polyprenols which stimulate the immune system, cellular repair and—those antiviral properties I just mentioned are particularly effective against influenza viruses. Which all goes a long way towards justifying their ancient reputation as a cure-all for practically anything.
Here are some of the uses of Pine in traditional medicine:
- Antiviral and antibacterial topical uses
- Topically for various skin diseases and conditions, including eczema and psoriasis
- Relieve rheumatic pain
- Restore hormone levels in Andropause and Menopause
- Regulate and strengthen the immune system
- Reduce cholesterol
- Support the adrenal glands
- Enhance metabolic function of the skin and nourish the hair at its roots
- Adjust the endocrine system and raise immunity power of the organs
- Improve endurance for high efficiency and quick pace
- Protect the cardiovascular system and increase superoxide dismutase levels (potent antioxidant) in the heart, blood, liver, and brain
- Improve metabolism and regulate weight
- Accelerate activity of the liver cells and regulate bile secretion
- Regulate prostate function
- Common cold preventative
- Restore androgen and estrogen balance
- Improve metabolism and regulate weight (safe and toxic-free fat-lowering supplement)
- Nourish the brain
- Stimulate liver regeneration
- Increase free testosterone levels in the blood
- Aid male fertility
- Dramatically improve vitality and stamina
In just a few weeks (maybe even days, if it’s warmer near you) the pine trees of Northern New Jersey will be ready and this is the time to collect their pollen. All you have to do it pick the little yellow cones (called catkins) off of the tips of the branches of the trees. Gather them and then put them into a strainer and gently tap the side of the strainer to sift, as you would sift flour, the pollen dust through the strainer. If that sounds like too much work for you, you can always buy it online for $77 per 8 ounces (Is that crazy or what!?!).
Enjoy your gathering your pine this season—to your health!