Vitamin C Content Of Pine Needles
Pine needles, especially fresh pine needles harvested in winter, contain a good bit of vitamin C. Its not all that much compared to modern supplements or fresh fruit, but it is enough to keep you healthy in a pinch.
One US forest service study found that pine needles have somewhere between 0.72 and 1.87 mg/g of Ascorbic Acid when sampled mid-summer. Other studies note that the vitamin C concentrations are 4-7 times higher in the winter months, steadily increasing in the colder months and peaking in February and March.
While the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 60 mg/day for adults, rather unethical studies on prison inmates in the 1960s showed that you can fend off scurvy with as little as 10 mg/day. Based on that, a study concluded it would have been possible to fend off scurvy during the sieve of Leningrad using pine needle tea .
Pine Needle Tea For Flu And Colds
Historically, the Native Americans, particularly the Haudenosaunee , considered White Pine Trees the Tree of Peace. Knowledge of its healing properties eventually garnered the attention of Eurocentric science and research, including its abundance in Vitamin C.
One of the first examples of applying Pine Needle Tea benefits was against scurvy – how the times have changed.
Vitamin C in Pine Needle Tea is today most closely associated with boosting immunity. The bodys immune system is its most crucial line of defence against seemingly endless pathogens, consisting of an expansive network of cells, organs, proteins and tissues.
These components work together to fight viruses, parasites and harmful bacteria. And Pine Needle Teas Vitamin C content could help the process along.
But we would be remiss if we didnt mention that a so-called Pine Needle Tea flu treatment can only go so far. There is only preliminary evidence backing such a claim, some of which comes from questionable sources.
The same principles apply to its supposed ability to combat respiratory conditions, if not more so. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, as a result, recommend a cautious approach.
Pine Needle Tea Antiviral Properties
It is known that pinene, which is the primary component of pine needles, inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Terpinene, camphene and limonene are antiviral. It has been further stated in this scientific paper that Beta-pinenene and limonenen reduced viral activity significantly.
Antiviral capability is also being sort by many as a protection against the Coronavirus or Covid19. While there is no evidence I and many friends are now adding a cup of pine needle tea to our plan of immunity to coronavirus.
Simply the best pine needle tea with great benefits to get is Juniper Ridge Douglas Fir It is a great flavour and a good price although I notice stocks are getting low.
Safe to drink, unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding, pine needle tea can also improve general skin, hair and nail health as well as improve vision.
You must be curious as to what exactly it is in pine needles that give it, its healing properties. Properties in pine needles include:
Antioxidants found in the high levels of vitamin C and A and presenting as flavonoids, and their glycosides. High in proanthocyanidins.
Antiseptic qualities, notably present and detected by the scent it exudes.
Terpenes, found in high concentrations in pine resin but also present in needles in the form of pinene, myrcene, cadinenes and thujenes.
Notable levels of calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorous.
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Health Benefits Of Pine Needles
There are many health benefits of pine needles, making it a great basic selection for your herbal cabinet. Pine needles contain a compound called alpha- or beta-pinene, which is a natural decongestant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anxiolytic.
When ingested, pine can be used to treat colds and coughs, reducing phlegm and helping with sinus infections. It is an expectorant, which means it thins mucus to help you cough and draw phlegm up from the lungs.
As mentioned earlier, pine needles are high in Vitamin C and are especially helpful in preventing scurvy. Younger, fresh needles called pine tops contain the most Vitamin C and are an effective survival plant.
Traditionally, these pine tops are boiled in water to make a tea used to treat fevers and coughs, as well as increase urination. Essential oils are collected specifically from pine needles for remedy use, but the needles can also be used for crafts and food.
When applied topically, pine can be used to draw out toxins or objects from the skin. Pine pitch is especially helpful in removing splinters, glass, and toxins from bug bites. This can help to avoid infections.
You can also bathe in it to help with joint inflammation and to ease sore muscles. Traditional Chinese medicine used infused pine in wine to apply topically for joint pain. Pine bark is especially convenient for topical uses.
Identify The Pine Tree Before Harvesting
The number one rule of foraging is to positively identify the plant. Dont skip this step not all types of pine are edible.
Well talk about one type of pine that you can definitely forage for pine needle tea, and a few more types of pine (and pine look-a-likes that you should avoid.
Use a field guide to help you positively identify the type of tree youre looking at. I recommend the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees.
If youre planning on using a type of pine tree for pine needle tea that we dont discuss, make sure to do some research about the specific type of pine that you want to forage.
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Healthyrefreshment From Out Your Own Back Door
Ina landscape that is covered in snow and usually considered barrenexcept for the animals, there is still sustenance to be procured. Ourmodern minds, unless trained otherwise, think of agricultural land asthe only source food or drink. Wild landscapes are not places wetypically associate with harvest or bounty.
Yetfor the vast majority of all life on Earth, wild places were the onlyplace to procure food or drink. Throughout our evolution on thisplanet humans have managed to make it to almost every place that ispossible to inhabit. And cold climates with snow for half of the yearor longer are no exception.
Formost of this time our outdoor pursuit of food and drink could not beconfined to only the months of warm weather. When we look through thelens of history we see that in fact our current situation is anaberration. Being able not only to sit inside all winter long buteven gain weight while doing so would have been a highly unusualprospect for much of humanity in the past. Cold or not, most peoplein cold climates were outside every single day in the search for atleast ingredients to make tea, if not an animal to put into the pot.
Winterbecomes something to dread when one spends 99 percent of ones timeinside, wishing for it to be over. But partaking in outdooractivities can shift our perception, and we can learn to appreciatethe spectacular season of cold.
The Power Of Pine Needle Tea
One of the more popular preparations for pine is to brew the young needles as a medicinal tea. Known to boost immunity and health, address respiratory ailments, and calm inflammation and slow the aging process, pine needle tea has a long history of use in Japan, Russia, Korea, Europe, and North America as a traditional herbal remedy.
Interestingly, extracts of pine needle are high in a compound known as shikimic acid, which has anti platelet-aggregative and antiviral properties. According to a study at the University of Oregon, shikimic acid is on par with many antiviral and antimicrobial pharmaceuticals:
Shikimic acid derivatives have also been shown to exhibit useful biological activity. Most notably, the well-known antiviral drug oseltamivir , which acts as a viral neuraminidase inhibitor, is used to treat seasonal influenza and has been deployed during H1N1 influenza outbreaks. Furthermore, fluorinated shikimate analogues have been shown to inhibit P. falciparum and have been tested as antimalarial drugs. In addition, shikimic acid- derived -zeylenone displays anticancer, antiviral and antibiotic behavior, and triacetyl shikimic acid exhibits anticoagulant and antithrombotic activity.
In short, the researchers found that shikimic acid helped to stop blood clots from forming, protected people from respiratory infections, and displayed anticancer, antiviral, and antibiotic properties.
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Pine Needle Tea A Natural Mood Booster & Brain Protector
The smell of pine needles gives us an instant boost of joy and peace, so it is a wonderful mood booster.
Antioxidants and vitamin C naturally found in pine needles help our brain function properly and protect it from oxidative stress, damage, and degeneration.
One of the most important pine needle tea health benefits is improving your cognitive functions, preventing, as well as fighting any brain damage that may come with age.
How To Choose Pine Needles For Tea
It is usually made with the fresh leaves of the pine tree. You can also buy pre-packed pine tree needles for a quick brew. The tea has a woodsy fragrance with a pleasant citrusy flavor.
Making 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 about 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. Experts recommend using eastern white pine and noble fir as safe to drink.
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Health Benefits Of Pine Needle Tea
There are very few long-term or clinical researches on the health benefits of pine needle tea. But there is a long tradition of its usage in Native American and Asian cultures. We can find its mention in memoirs, encyclopedias, and folklore. Here are some of its top health benefits:
May Be Rich in Vitamin C: Although there is no research to support it, pine needle tea is believed to contain 4-5 times more vitamin C than orange juice. It was the traditional remedy for scurvy, which is caused by vitamin C deficiency. The Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine describes how Native Americans used pine needle tea to treat scurvy among the colonists. A Korean study found that the antioxidant activity of pine needle tea may have been indeed similar to that of vitamin C.
May Augment Vision health: Pine needle tea is also believed to contain vitamin A. Together with vitamin C, it may help improve our vision. Vitamin C is good for aging eyes, giving it antioxidant protection against normal pollutants. Vitamin A is essential for our cornea and in improving vision.
May Help Cure/Manage Respiratory Conditions: Pine needle tea was often used by indigenous cultures for treating respiratory problems. The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributionsto the World records how the Native Americans used white pine for its expectorant and decongestant qualities.
Benefits Of Drinking Pine Needle Tea
If you think drinking pine needle tea stops the aging process, alleviates allergies, and cures depression, it probably does for you.
Back on planet earth, pine needles are a remarkably potent source of Vitamins C and A. And I can definitely attest to a mild decongestant effect.
Pine is a long-standing traditional remedy for coughs and colds, as well as urinary tract and sinus infections.
These are great teas to drink in winter when the Vitamin C content of the needles is 4-7 times higher than usual, peaking in February and March.
More importantly, any connection between the forest and your body is significant. Theres a wonderfully transporting quality to drinking tea made with ingredients gathered on your last hike.
Brewing fresh pine needle tea is a very soothing, healthy way to end your day.
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How To Identify Pine Trees
Half the fun of making pine needle tea is venturing outdoors to find some pine needles.
Spotting pine trees is particularly a piece of cake in the winter monthsjust look for something tall and green.
During this particular winter expedition, I came across a grove of Loblolly pines.
The Loblolly is identified by its height , scaly bark, and 3 to 6 inch cones that are tipped with spines. It is an extremely common tree here in the Southeast.
Fun fact: the Loblolly pine is the most common tree in the U.S. behind the red maple.
A key identifying characteristic of pine trees is that the needles form in clusters, as opposed to single needles sprouting directly out of the branch.
Another really cool identification trick is that the number of needles in the cluster to help identify the particular kind of pine tree.
In this case, the Loblolly has three needles per node.
In contrast, the Eastern White Pineanother common pine tree in this areahas five needles per cluster.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Dont make tea out of anything that you cant 100% identify. Some types of evergreens like Cypress and Yew trees are toxic. Also, dont drink pine needle tea if you are pregnant or nursing.
May Ease Cold And Flu Symptoms
If you have a sore throat or feel a cold coming on, reach for some pine needle tea. Many indigenous cultures have used pine needles as an expectorant forcoughs, as well as for relieving a congested chest, according toDaily Detox Hacks. The healing properties help eliminate bacteria by forcing mucus out and also help to clear the sinuses.
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Should You Use Fresh Pine Needles Or Dried Pine Needles
To extract the most antioxidants and vitamin C, needles should be fresh, or freshly dried with a green color and fresh evergreen scent. If you plan to use a home espresso machine to extract your pine needle tea, grind the fresh needles briefly in a vitamix jar or Blendtec blender, until they are coarsely ground. Do not over process. Freeze unused portions of ground pine needles to preserve their antioxidants.
A Cold & Flu Season Miracle Pine Needle Tea
After a series of harsh winter storms in Portland, the ground is littered with branches and pine needles. There are so many needles it is like the whole city has been mulched over. Because its Portland tradition to re-use anything and everything and those trees arent going to need those needles anymore we have a proposal. Why not use all those extra pine needles to combat cold and flu season? Seriously. Heres how.
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How Do You Harvest Pine Resin
Resin is usually collected by causing minor damage to the tree by making a hole far enough into the trunk to puncture the vacuoles, to let sap exit the tree, known as tapping, and then letting the tree repair its damage by filling the wound with resin. This usually takes a few days. Then, excess resin is collected.
Be Cautious Drinking Pine Needle Tea If:
Some species of pine have been known to cause abortion in pregnant cattle, so if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, avoid using pine needle tea out of an abundance of caution.
The diuretic actions of pine needle tea can be irritating to the bladder. If you are taking prescription medication check with your health professional before drinking pine needle tea regularly. Pine needle tea can lower the amount of other drugs circulating in your blood.
Some conifers can be toxic so make an identification of the specific species before using it in this recipe. Avoid yew, cypress, and Norfolk pine as they are reported to be toxic.
- 2 tablespoons fresh pine needles
- 1 cup boiled, hot water
- Honey to taste
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Directions: Cold Infusion Method
To make a cold infusion, simply place the needles in a jar and cover with cold water and a lid. Let them steep for 8-12 hours or overnight, then separate out the needles from the water.
If you are saving the Pine tea for later, dont forget to label with the name, date, and the type of tree that you harvested from.
*** For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. We recommend that you consult with a qualified health care practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing or on any medications. ***
*** Please read our Honorable Harvesting Guidelines before harvesting any plant material. The final guideline is of utmost importance: Never put anything in your mouth unless you are 100% sure it is safe to ingest. ***
Hannah began her apprenticeship at Wolf Camp in 2013 and graduated as a lead herbal instructor in 2014. Join Hannah and other Wolf College wild chefs during our annual Wild Cooking & Ethnobotany Expedition: The Herbal Foray the second week of July on Lake Sammamish near Seattle.
Pine Needle Tea Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants help our bodies deal with something called oxidative stress, which can affect proteins and DNA in ways that may contribute to chronic disease, like cancer and inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
One study looking at the potential benefits of pine needles found that pine needles exhibit strong antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antiproliferative effects on cancer cells and also antitumor effects in vivo and point to their potential usefulness in cancer prevention.
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