The most interesting health benefits of pine include its ability to boost the immune system, improve vision health, stimulate circulation, protect against pathogens, and improve respiratory health.
What is Pine?
Pine is actually a broad term that encompasses more than 170 different species of coniferous trees that fall within the Pinaceae family. You can find species of pine in the majority of the Northern hemisphere, but there is only one that is native to the southern hemisphere. While some species have been introduced to the tropical climates for lumber or ornamental purposes, pines are very hardy and tend to become invasive in these regions, so they are slightly discouraged by the international community. These trees can have impressive lifespans, some stretching to 1,000 years of age, and the oldest known “pine” tree in the world is over 4,500 years old and can be found in California.
In terms of medicinal benefits, pine needles, cones, bark, and resin all hold medicinal qualities, as well as the pine essential oil that can be extracted. The innermost bark can be dried and eaten and is valued for its high nutrient content, while the needles can be brewed into a popular tea that has a number of beneficial qualities.
Health Benefits of Pine
We’ll take a closer look at some of the most important health benefits of pine.
Whether you consume the dried bark peels of pine trees or brew a tea from the pine needles, you will be able to access a considerable amount of vitamin C, an unusually high amount of a tree species, actually. Vitamin C is an essential element of our immune system, as it stimulates the production of white blood cells and has antioxidant qualities that help prevent chronic illness and diseases. Furthermore, vitamin C is a crucial component of collagen, which is necessary to create new cells, muscles, tissues, and blood vessels.
Improves Vision Health
There is also a high level of vitamin A and various carotenoids found in pine needle tea and bark. Carotenoids act as antioxidants in the body, particularly for the eyes, preventing the development of cataracts, increasing vision strength, and slowing the onset of macular degeneration. By reducing oxidative stress in the ocular system, this tea can keep your vision strong well into your old age.
Skin & Hair Care
Vitamin A does a bit more than helping your vision; it also prevents oxidative stress in your skin, helping to keep your skin looking young and wrinkle-free by eliminating free radicals. Furthermore, the vitamin C helps to speed the healing process and vitamin A reduces the appearance of blemishes and scars, even from skin conditions like acne. In terms of your hair, vitamin A and C both help give a rich luster to your locks and prevent hair loss and dandruff.
Protects against Pathogen
There are natural antiseptic qualities in pine needle tea, so after brewing and steeping the needles, you can allow the tea to cool and then use it as a wash or mix it with carrier oils to apply to the skin, particularly on wounds to prevent infections or pathogens from entering the body. This ability also helps to eliminate pathogens and microbes within the body when the tea is consumed directly.
The organic compounds in pine needle tea can help to kick your circulatory system into gear and increase your production of red blood cells, thereby increasing oxygenation to your body’s organ systems, boosting energy levels, and preventing anemia, which is a very common condition characterized by unexplained fatigue, muscle soreness, and cognitive impairment.
Maintains Respiratory Health
One of the most common applications of pine needle tea (and bark consumption) is the prevention or treatment of respiratory conditions. Furthermore, it is often recommended for soothing inflammation of the respiratory tract, which helps to relieve coughing, sore throats, and more serious respiratory conditions, such as asthma. Pine has been shown to be an expectorant, helping to eliminate excess mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tracts, while also neutralizing any pathogens or bacteria found in your sinuses.
Word of Caution: The potent mix of chemicals and active ingredients in pine can be dangerous for pregnant women, as it has been known in some situations to cause miscarriages. Furthermore, a few varieties can be toxic when consumed, so always get your pine needles and bark from a certified herbalist and avoid picking needles in the wild, as you can’t be sure what other environmental or atmospheric factors may have contaminated the needles or roots.