White Pine (Pinus strobus L.) and its Uses

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The pine tree is more than just a glorious symbol of Christmas and wintertime.  Native Americans have used it for centuries for all manner of remedies, and it’s known for its high Vitamin C content.  I’m fortunate enough to have several varieties of pine nearby, but the white pine is certainly one of my favorites with its soft needles and wonderful scent.

Found:  Most common in the eastern half of North America from Canada down to Georgia, as far west as Iowa.

Identifying: The needles are grouped into fives, are long, slim, and green.  Pinecones are cylindrical in shape and can grow up to 8 inches in length.  Tree can grow up to 200 feet.

Parts Used: Needles, twigs, bark and pitch

Medicinal Uses: Pitch used by Native Americans to draw out boils and abscesses, used for rheumatism, broken bones, cuts, bruises, sores, inflammation.  Tea from twigs for lung and kidney issues.  Bark and/or needle tea for cough and colds, grippe, sore throats, lungs; expectorant, diuretic.  As a poultice for headaches and backaches.  Inner bark used to be a common ingredient in cough syrups.  The Ojibwa would boil the needles and inhale the vapors as a relief for backaches.  

Allergic Reactions/Warnings: As a compound syrup, white pine has been said to contain enough morphine to develop a habit.  Simple needle tea and other uses are not known to be habit forming.

Note: These posts are not meant to be a medical guide but an overview.  Consulting an herbal specialist is always recommended.

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