Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pine-Needle Tea

White pine trees, Pinus strobus, are considered by some admirers to be one of the most magnificent of forest trees. The rapid growing pine, one of America's most valued timber trees, is also grown as a shade or ornamental tree. Native Americans used white pine needles medicinally as a remedy for many illneses; a tea made from the needles was found particularly useful. Today, we know pine-needle tea is especially beneficial for such respiratory problems as colds and congestion. When it's used in a bath, the tea is considered quite effective in treating chronic gout pain, nerve pain and arthritis, as well as sprains and muscle strains. The needles from the white pine tree are used more commonly as a remedy than the familiar scots pine, Pinus sylvestris, which has similar components and is used as an ornament or Christmas tree. While pine needles aren't available commercially, they may be gathered in the wild.

Preparation of the tea

A tea made with white pine needles is most effective when using the young needles. Boil 3 tbsp. of fresh or dried pine needles in 1 qt. of water for about 2 min. Cover and let steep for 30 min. Drink 3-4 large cups of tea, sweetened with honey to taste, between meals.

Therapeutic effect: Freshly gathered young pine needles contain ample vitamin C, as well as an essential oil. In combination with tannic acids, bitter principles and resins, the tea will inhibit mucus production in the bronchi and act as a disinfectant. When used in a compress, it can help heal wounds and relieve pain.

A good stimulant

Pine is refreshing and invigorating and may give a boost to anyone suffering from lethargy and exhaustion. The abundant vitamin-C content, a necessary nutrient for all cells to repair and regenerate, makes pine-needle tea a good choice for those who don't get vitamin C from other sources.

Finding white pine

Because white pine isn't available commercially, it's necessary to forage for the needles yourself. The tree is distinguishable by its flexible, blue-green needles, arranged in bundles of five.

Caution: Some people may experience contact dermatitis from the resinous sap of the tree.

Medicinal Uses
  • For coughs and bronchitis Pine-needle tea is an excellent remedy for acute bronchitis, especially when it is accompanied by stubborn and thick mucus production and expectoration. The components in pine have wound-healing, decongestive and disinfectant effects on the respiratory passages. Painful throat irritation is reduced and inflamed bronchi are soothed. Even inhaling the vapors of this tea can bring relief. Drink 3 cups daily with a little honey, if desired.

  • Bath therapy A pine-needle bath is energizing and invigorating; because pine also is anti-inflammatory, a bath may be beneficial for rheumatism and gout, sprains or strains. To prepare a bath, place a large handful of fresh needles in a muslin bag and bring it to a boil in 1 qt. of water. Cover and simmer for 30 min. For the best effect, add both the liquid and the bag of needles to the bath.

  • As a diuretic Pine-needle tea has a mildly diuretic effect and will help remove small deposits that often accumulate in the kidneys and the bladder. This "gravel" may lead to paintful kidney stones. The germicidal effect in pine's essential oil alleviates inflammations associated with the urinary tract.

Healing Tea Mixtures

To flush the urinary tract
1 oz. white-pine needles
3/4 oz. dandelion leaves
3/4 oz. goldenrod herb
Prepare this medicinal tea (front), to stimulate urination and to flush crystalline deposits from the body, preventing a build-up that can lead to kidney gravel and stones.

For circulation
1 oz. white-pine needles
3/4 oz. hawthorn blossoms
1/2 oz. peppermint leaves
1/2 oz. rosemary leaves

Prepare this blend (front) for an invigorating tea. Because it is a mild stimulant, anyone with high blood pressure should drink only small amounts of the tea.

For neuralgic pain
1 oz. pine needles
1 oz. calendula flowers
1 oz. St. John's wort
Prepare a tea (front) with this medicinal plant mixture to help calm nerves and to alleviate headache from neuralgic pain. Drink as a tea or use it in a compress to relieve headache pain.