Benefits & Side Effects of Pine Needle Tea

by John Staughton last updated -

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The best benefits of pine needle tea include maximizing the immune system, improving vision, preventing respiratory infections, stimulating circulation, avoiding chronic disease, increasing cognitive performance, strengthening heart health and speeding healing. With more than a hundred varieties of pine trees in North America alone, it is important that you use the correct pine needles, as some varieties may contain toxins or cause negative side effects.

What is Pine Needle Tea?

Pine needle tea has been considered an important medicinal tool for indigenous cultures for thousands of years, and while formal research is somewhat limited on the subject, the anecdotal evidence (of its benefits) is undeniable. Most pine trees are native to North America, which is where this tea is primarily produced and enjoyed, although pre-packaged pine tree needles for this tea are also available in other parts of the world, so that everyone can enjoy the impressive health effects.

Health Benefits of Drinking Pine Needle Tea

The medicinal benefits of drinking pine needle tea relate to the cardiovascular, circulatory, immune and respiratory systems, in addition to its antioxidant activity and ability to prevent degenerative and chronic diseases. These beneficial effects are the result of high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, polyphenolic compounds, various B family vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorous, as well as sterols and carotenoids.

Immune System Boost

The most impressive fact about pine needle tea is that it contains 4-5 times more vitamin C than orange juice, which is commonly praised for its immune-boosting properties. This high dose of vitamin C can stimulate the production of white blood cells, promote antioxidant activity throughout the body, lower your risk of chronic disease, and speed healing and collagen production.

Vision Health

Although not found in as high a quantity as vitamin C, vitamin A is found in a notable concentration in pine needle tea. This antioxidant vitamin specifically helps with vision health, and can help to prevent oxidative stress in and around the tissues of the eye, slowing down the onset of cataracts and preventing macular degeneration.

Respiratory Conditions

Pine needle tea was often used by indigenous cultures for its expectorant and decongestant qualities. It can force mucus and phlegm to be expelled, which effectively eliminates the bacteria and other pathogens living there. The decongestant nature helps to clear out your sinuses and relieve pressure and sinus headaches.

Blood Pressure

Oxidative stress in obese people can be a deadly combination, and can lead to higher rates of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. The antioxidants in pine oil, such as carotenoids, sterols and polyphenolic compounds, can help to lower inflammation and blood pressure in the cardiovascular system, protecting the body from these potentially fatal health conditions.

Speed Healing

As mentioned, vitamin C is found in high quantities in this tea, and it is a key component in collagen production. Without collagen, we couldn’t regenerate tissues, muscle fibers, bone, tendons, organ tissue or skin, so if you have suffered an illness or injury, a huge boost of vitamin C in the body is necessary.

Prevent Chronic Disease

Research has been done on pine oil’s effect on chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease and even autoimmune disease. The high and diverse antioxidant concentration in the tea is shown to counteract the effects of free radicals and protect the body from these conditions.


Some of the volatile components in pine needle tea are necessary for the production of red blood cells, including vitamin A. This can help to boost your production of red blood cells, thus improving circulation and delivering essential nutrients to extremities in the body.

Cognitive Function

Early studies on the effect of this potent tea on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases has shown promising early results. The antioxidants in this tea can lower the level of beta amyloid deposition, which is the plaque in the brain that compromises neural connections and impairs memory.

How Do You Make Pine Needle Tea?

Making your own pine needle tea is easy, and only requires fresh, young pine needles and hot water! However, as mentioned earlier, it is imperative to choose the right pine needles. There are 20 known toxic varieties of pine trees, so do thorough research or acquire pine needles from a trained herbalist or natural medicine practitioner. Some of the most well known toxic varieties include the ponderosa pine, balsam fir, lodgepole and Monterey pines. Avoid using these – and other varieties – when brewing your tea.

There are also quite a few trees that are commonly called “pine trees”, but are in fact toxic imitators, such as the English Yew, Norfolk island pine and the Yew pine. These should never be used to brew pine needle tea.

Step 1 – To begin with, collect or purchase fresh pine needles. A small handful should be sufficient for a strong cup of tea.

Step 2 – Cut off any of the brown ends or sheaths of the needles – they can also just be pulled off.

Step 3 – Chop the needles into 1/4 inch chunks.

Step 4 – Bring a pot of water to boil, and then add in the freshly cut pine needles.

Step 5 – Cover the pot with a lid and allow the needles to steep for 3-4 minutes.

Step 6 – Remove the pot from heat, but keep it covered and allow it to continue steeping.

Step 7 – Once all the needles have sunk to the bottom and the tea has cooled, pour through a strainer into a cup and enjoy!

What is Pine Needle Tea Good For?

Drinking pine needle tea is effective if you are suffering from cold, cough, bronchitis, vision problems, chronic disease, high blood pressure, scurvy, poor circulation, Alzheimer’s disease or cardiovascular disease, in addition to those who are recovering from a surgery, injury, or extended illness. It is also an excellent choice for people who want to avoid caffeinated beverages, but still enjoy a warm, nutrient-packed beverage throughout the day.

Pine Needle Tea Side Effects

Due to the wide variety of pine trees that are potentially toxic or harmful when brewed into a tea, considering the side effects is essential before making a batch of your own. Some of the side effects can include:

  • Irritation in the throat and mouth
  • Inflamed patches on the skin
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea

If a significant amount of toxic pine needle tea is consumed, the side effects can be even worse. In safe varieties of pines, however, side effects are only related to potential allergies to pine trees. Also, pine oil, which is released when brewing the tea, can have inflammatory effects on the skin and stomach, resulting in stomach upset in some people. Due to the potency and unpredictability of this tea, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant, expecting or breastfeeding.

About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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