Pine, the Tree of Longevity, Wisdom and Health
Pine trees of the Pinus species, have long been celebrated by numerous cultures for its symbolism and for its medicinal properties. From the dwarf pine to the tall Ponderosa pine tree, they are beautiful and aromatic.
From the cultures of Native America, Korea, China, Ancient Greece and Rome, the pine tree has been a revered symbol of eternal or long lasting life and wisdom, health and good luck, even as sacred or magical.
Folk legends abound of use of pine needles, nuts and sap for healing and sacred ceremonies whether used in incense, as an oil or in a tea. Since winter is a time we pay more particular attention to Pine trees and since most other herbal plants have long since grown dormant, this is an ideal time to learn about using Pine needles and resin for our health. Especially important now since Pine is a powerful tool in dealing with viruses, colds, coughs, bronchitis and sore throats.
Many cough drops and syrups contain pine extract for their ability to "Open the lungs", improve breathing, kill bacterial infections and clear congestion. In folk medicine pine needles and bark have been used for respiratory complaints. In Native American healing traditions, they valued the Pine tree as sacred and nourishing. They use pine needles and resin for an herbal steam and incense to relieve asthma and bronchitis and open sinuses. They also used them to prevent scurvy and build the immune system as it has an abundant amount of Vitamin C. As a tincture, they used pine to treat stomach aches and fever.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, Pine is mostly used as an expectorant and an antiseptic. It is also used for rheumatic pain and inflammation.
This is mostly my experience with Pine, its use for immune and respiratory support during colds and bronchitis. It works quite well even just simply as pine needles boiled in some water, strained and ingested as a tea. In a pinch, it is quite easy in our area to just run outside (okay, put your coat and boots on first), grab some needles, come inside and prepare a concoction. If you have other herbs on hand, it is even more powerful and tasty with a blend of supportive herbs.
Interestingly (at least to me) is that Chinese medicine also uses pine for relieving stress, anxiety, fatigue, nervous tension and mental clarity as well as for memory loss. It is considered in their traditions to be uplifting and refreshing.
Pine nut oil has been used in Russia to treat ulcers, gastritis and as a digestive aid.
In aromatherapy, pine is commonly used to help with respiratory disorders and is commonly used to instill courage and optimism through the use of its smoke. As it clears the sinuses and mind and opens the chest, it leaves one feeling rejuvenated with self confidence and a fresh perspective. Pine incense is used for many spiritual purposes for protection, longevity and wisdom.
For me personally, the most powerful healing I get from pine is through Tree Bathing in a pine forest. As soon as I enter a pine forest I can almost hear them calling to me to heal and relax me. I can feel their energy and I always have to stop and "hug" a few trees. This is the practice of Shinrin Yoku and a powerful practice for dealing with mental health struggles. I would love to take a group into the woods and teach this practice some day, but the pandemic has made people and organizations leary of allowing any kind of group learning right now. Too bad. Anyway, when I place my hands on a healthy, robust, pine tree and just quietly communicate with the tree and feel its energy, I can feel the tree push out my anxious energy and refresh me with its own cool, calming, invigorating energy. It always amazes me and yes, people stare at me, but it is too powerful a tool to care about that.
For a simple Pine Needle cough syrup recipe, try this one:
1. Heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Remove from heat.
2. Place 1 cup fresh, chopped pine needles (I use scissors) into saucepan and let steep for
3. Strain and return to saucepan.
4. Add 2 cups of raw honey, stir in until dissolved. You may need to warm the liquid a bit to
completely dissolve the honey.
5. Store syrup in a dark bottle and cap tightly. Label and store in the refrigerator for up to
6. Take 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon up to three times a day.
courtesy Herbal Academy
Experiment with pine nuts (in tea or tincture or eat on salad or topping on dishes), drying and grinding pine needles to use for incense and freezing and grinding up pine resin for a wonderful incense (burn on a hot incense coal). Make a simple tea with pine needles a pine needle and resin salve for your first aid kit dealing with cuts and minor wounds.
Make sure you harvest pine needles, resin and nuts from a clean forest. Walk into the forest a little ways to get a cleaner harvest, away from roads, etc.
So get out there, have a healthy walk in a pine forest (or if your lucky, you have pine trees in your yard), take a deep breath, hug them, let them refresh you, take some needles and if your lucky, cut of any resin oozing from tree and go home and try some of these ideas with pine.