A Winter Shrine To The Sacred Pine

December 5, 2017 13 Comments

As the winter solstice approaches, there is an ancient tradition that many of us still practice.

Many adults and children alike here in the States and around the world get into the holiday spirit by hauling a bushy evergreen tree into the living room, standing it up in a prominent location and decorating it with lights, miniature figurines and spiritual symbols.

What we don’t often realize is that the pine, spruce and fur tree are powerful native medicines that hold many gifts for our mind, body and spirit.

I was stringing up lights around our Christmas tree (a potted pine) yesterday when it dawned on me. Whoa, we’re actually honoring sacred tree medicine right in the middle of our house.

Our ancestors relied on the pine tree for its medicine, ceremony and sustenance – and many tribes still depend on it today. The remarkable healing properties of these resilient trees make them a staple to indigenous cultures from the Siberian steppes to the forests of North America and beyond.

These evergreen conifers hold much spiritual significance as well and can symbolize many things including longevity, peace, wisdom, and harmony with nature. The Iroquois burned pine to dispel nightmares and placate spirits. Other tribes burn the wood of pine as incense, while still others use pine gum for protection against negative energies.

How you can use pine medicine:

There are approximately 115 different species of pine worldwide—36 of which grow in North America. These evergreen and resinous coniferous trees (in the family Pinus, and the genus Pinaceae) are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. Find out which types of pine grow near you, and make sure they’re true pines. Provided that you’re not allergic, consider connecting with its healing properties. We’ve listed a few suggestions below.

1. Use the pitch. The sticky delicious-smelling sap has powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. My O’odham friend Dennis often uses this as quick wilderness first aid for cuts, slivers, and burns. Try your hand at making your own healing salve below:

Pine Resin Healing Salve
¼ cup pine resin
½ cup almond or olive oil
1 oz. grated beeswax


1. Heat oil in a double-boiler. As oil begins to simmer, add pine resin, and continue heating until the resin melts. Stir occasionally.
2. Option: Strain mixture through a cheesecloth.
3. Return mixture to double-boiler over low heat, and slowly stir in beeswax until melted. Pour mixture into jars or tins, and store in cool place.

You can use this salve on aching joints and sore muscles, shallow scrapes and wounds, or on the chest for an aromatherapeutic agent.

2. Use the bark. In a survival situation, you can actually eat the bark of a pine tree. But the easiest way to reap its benefits is using pine bark extract, packed with powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C. The extract has been shown to lower glucose levels, improve diabetic symptoms, prevent hearing loss, restore balance, stave off infections, protect the skin from harmful UV rays, restore circulation, improve erectile dysfunction, reduce inflammation, even increase athletic performance—and the list goes on.

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3. Use the needles. Also loaded with vitamin C—more than five times of an orange—along with vitamins A, E, and a host of B vitamins, the needles are a cherished part of the pine. Pine needles have strong antimutagenic, antioxidant, and antiproliferative properties, which help in preventing the growth of cancer cells. Try making your own tea with the following recipe:

Sacred Pine Needle Tea

½ c. young pine needles (a small handful
3 c. spring water
1 slice of lemon (optional)

1. Bring water just to a boil.
2. Destem and remove the brown papery sheaths at the base of the needles.
2. Chop needles into ½-inch pieces, to help release essence.
3. Place 1 Tbsp. of chopped needles into a mug, and pour boiling water over needles, and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.
4. Squeeze lemon into tea for flavor, or use as garnish.

4. Use the nuts. The “fruit” of these sacred trees can be found in the scales or spines of the pinecone, and is known for its own set of health benefits, including: appetite suppression, boosting energy, reducing risk of heart disease, anti-aging, and improving vision. Use in salads and other recipes, or simply enjoy as a snack.

5. Use the pinecone. Pinecones have long been a symbol of enlightenment and offer a beautiful example of sacred geometry. If you look at its base, you’ll notice that its scales form a perfect Fibonacci spiral in either direction. Behind our third eye lies our pineal gland (note the root “pine” named for its pinecone-like shape), which moderates our circadian rhythm and produces melatonin. Try this pinecone meditation to activate your third-eye chakra

Pinecone Meditation:

Find a pinecone and place it in front of you. Gaze at the pinecone for a full minute, then close your eyes and imagine the pinecone-shape behind your third eye. Envision the scales of the pinecone unfolding and opening to take in nourishment from Divine Light, and see your pinecone-shaped pineal gland energized and radiant. In this space, consider all the benefits of pine medicine and imagine this energy as a white light healing your mind, body, and spirit. When finished, consider treating yourself to a steaming mug of Sacred Pine Needle Tea.

6. Use the oil. Invigorating and cleansing, pine essential oil can alleviate headaches, relieve pain, boost energy and mood, treat acne and other skin conditions, act as a decongestant, and freshen a room. Consider using in the above meditation, diffusing the oil in a room, or adding a few drops to a bath for a rejuvenating and restorative experience.

The Christmas tree is a prime example of a wild medicine that is hidden in plain sight. Revered by those who came before us, this noble plant is a shining reminder that the forest holds many healing secrets that are waiting to be told to those of us who are open to hearing them.

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Founder, The Sacred Science

Filed Under: Herbalism

About Nick Polizzi

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and producing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick's current role as executive producer of "Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness" and founder of The Sacred Science stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and healing technologies of the ancient world.

View all posts by Nick Polizzi

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  1. Robin Alexandra says:

    I have gratitude for you and ll the wisdom you are sharing with us. Pine has always beed in my pharmacopeia. Such good medicine!

    blessings for your Solstice celebrations


  2. Neville Abbott Jacobs says:

    My father learned to use fir balsam from Indian friends in southern Oregon when he was a boy, long before antibiotics. In the 1930’s, when I was a little girl, a black widow spider bit him between two fingers, and the poison was so severe the drs drained tablespoonfuls from his hand daily, and at first thought they would not save his life, then amputate his arm, then at the elbow, etc., but my mother kept applying fir balsam which she made into a salve she created, similar to your recipe and gradually the infection retreated and his arm and hand was saved. He loved the piano, so started working his stiff hand over a baseball and finally graduated to a few marbles, and a year later astonished his doctor when he made a final check up call, and sat chatting, rolling the marbles around with his now nimble fingers. All thanks to fir balsam. So happy to learn about the pine.

  3. Dr Janelle Trees says:

    I loved reading this, thanks Nick.
    I’ve had success using Marine Pine Bark from New Zealand for pain management in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions — a healthier option than the anti-inflammatory meds on offer.
    There’s a wreath of pine needles on the table in the room where I write now (in Europe). The perfume of its oil is a harmoniser and a tonic in the house.
    Warm wishes,

  4. Kitt Alwood says:

    My neighbour makes a drink with pitch (usually balsom & jackpine), & oil, which she renders down. Then once bottled you take a teaspoon either orally or on the area that is bothering you. It’s worked for my crowns, stomach pain, scars and mom’s arthritis. She also makes one with devils club and it got me out of a wheelchair walking again. You rub it on the affected area.

  5. Annette says:

    Thank you for this article.
    I live on 67 acres that has many different types of pine trees.
    I am blessed!

  6. nt says:

    Nick! Your posts are sooooooo great! Love to read them! Thank you for this, it is a revelation for me knowing the essence of the pine!

  7. Jena says:

    Great article, Nick! Thank you!!

    When you refer to “pine sap”, are you talking about turpentine? Because turpentine has been successfully used for medicinal purposes for centuries. I would love to hear your take on it.

  8. Wendy says:

    You mention “pine, spruce, and fir,” and then you go on to talk about pine exclusively. What about the other conifers?

  9. Kirk Apt says:

    Just FYI, you mixed the family and genus names: family is Pinaceae, genus is Pinus
    Great article

  10. Delyth says:

    About 20 years ago my beloved cat died, I had never felt such pain like that, I sobbed for 6 weeks or more I just didn’t know how to console myself as the pain was so deep.
    We had such an incredible close relationship, I just wanted to die.
    My partner who I had just met told me to go and sit with the trees in the forest, I thought he’d lost his mind ! ….I live in Wales and just a stones throw away is a beautiful forest where I spend a lot of my time !.. he said go and sit against a tree and talk, tell her about your pain.
    I really thought he can’t be serious !……so I went up to the forest sat with my back against a pine, I poured my heart out, I screamed and cried until I came to silence, I was over whelmed with a great sense of peace and love that washed over me, I was one with the tree, 3 hours had passed which seemed like 10 minutes,
    Since that time I never cried another tear, I was totally at peace.
    I know know that trees have 3 chakras top middle and bottom, they are our oldest ancestors and have much to teach us.
    Thank you beautiful Nick for all that you do X

    • Selina Mu says:

      Kwe Delyth,
      Such a beautiful response. Go to the Trees!
      I am presently writing a book that the Trees asked me to write
      about their Medicine for us now.
      The Trees are perfect Healers and we can work with them in so many ways.
      Burning Tree Gum as a way to purify Self is very powerful and an ancient way to Clear your energy.

  11. Lynn Adams says:

    My grandmother lived with us when I was young. After Christmas, but before the tree was put out for recycling, she would strip the branches of needles and put them in little sachet bags she had sewn out of worn dish towels or sheets. These she would hang in our closets to keep the moths out of our clothes.

  12. karen says:


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