White Pine (Pinus strobus) is a conifer species that has thin needles growing in five clusters. Throughout time it has had many uses to native peoples, pioneers, and herbalists. Pounded inner bark was used for treating open wounds and cuts. The resin from the tree can be used to draw out splinters and to treat cuts, swelling and insect bites with its antiseptic properties. Hot resin can also be applied externally to treat muscle soreness, sciatica and pnemonia. The inner bark as a poultice for treating strong colds, coughs, and flus. Some commercial cough syrups use it to this day. A tea made from the young needles was used to treat sore throats.
“It was traditionally used to prevent scurvy,” said Kathi Langelier, CEO and founder of Herbal Revolution in Union. “It’s very high in vitamin C. It contains four to five times more than lemons. It’s a traditional remedy for the upper respiratory system, used for coughs and [as an] expectorant to get out phlegm when you have a cold"
I attended a Forest Bathing Workshop a few years ago where a series of invitations to engage with nature was performed. This was a winter event and the pines really sang with the ice. I introduced myself to a White Pine tree and really engaged with its energy while thanking it for all that it does. I love the look of long pine needles in ice. It is so tactile and full of earthy sensations. At the end of this experience, we all came together for a tea ceremony. The tea we drank was tea brewed from white pine needles. It was crisp, piney, and warm. I never knew at that point that you could drink tea made from the needles.
You can make a tea out of the needles to enjoy an awakening connection to the White Pine tree. Langelier also quoted, “It’s amazing,” she said. “I love white pine trees and I think they’re a really delicious, unique flavor. It’s a little tannic, but it has these really nice citrus notes.” To make pine needle tea, you just steep pine needles in boiling water for about 15 minutes.
You can also make a white pine needle syrup for the same benefits as the teal. Fill a boiling pot halfway with plant materials and water, keep the proportions at 1/3 needles and the rest water, although you are welcome to experiment with proportions up to 50/50. Whatever feels right to you. "Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes with the top off of the pot in order to let some liquid evaporate. Strain the plant material out of the liquid and add one part raw honey for every one part liquid as a stabilizer. Raw honey has live probiotics and prebiotics, whereas when it’s heated and more processed, a lot of those medicinal properties are lost,” Armstrong advised. “Honey has all kinds of immune boosting properties. It’s really great for the digestive system that can help with a cough or sore throat that combined with white pine is a really great remedy.” If you are congested, eat 1 tablespoon of syrup and you can mix this with lemon, ginger or whatever else your body is intuitively telling you do.
A pine needle vinegar can be made for similar benefits or to just enjoy on a salad. Soak a good amount of pine needles in apple cider vinegar for 6 weeks. Fill a jar with pine needles and pour room temperature apple cider vinegar until they are covered. Close with a lid and let it do its magic.
If you are interested in making a pine resin salve, visit the following link for directions. How To Make Pine Resin Salve – Herbal Academy (theherbalacademy.com)
These are all great remedies, however there are some precautions like with anything you put into your body. People allergic to pine or similar properties should avoid it. Resins, wood and sawdust can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. This should be avoided by people with asthma or chronic bronchitis.
Stay tuned for our new photo library of nature adventures on our website as well as fun facts about plants.
White Pine Facts and Medicinal uses (healthbenefitstimes.com)
White pine is a delicious herbal remedy you can make at home (bangordailynews.com)
Pine Keeps You Fine by Susun Weed
8 Terrific Ways To Use Pine Needles Right Now (theherbalacademy.com)