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.