There’s an ancient tradition that many of us still practice during the holidays.
Millions of 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 pine, spruce and fir trees 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 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. But some pine species have flourished in the Southern Hemisphere too – like the cypress or kauri pines in Australia, for example. 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 and some great recipes 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
- Heat oil in a double-boiler. As oil begins to simmer, add pine resin, and continue heating until the resin melts. Stir occasionally.
- Option: Strain mixture through a cheesecloth.
- 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, which is packed with powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C. The extract has been shown to lower glucose levels, improve diabetes 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.
3. Use the needles. Also loaded with vitamin C—more than five times that 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 cup young pine needles (a small handful)
- 3 cup spring water
- 1 slice of lemon (optional)
- Bring water to a boil.
- De-stem and remove the brown papery sheaths at the base of the needles.
- Chop needles into ½-inch pieces, to help release essence.
- Place 1 tbsp. of chopped needles into a mug and pour boiling water over top, allowing to steep for 5-10 minutes.
- 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. These include: appetite suppression, boosting energy, reducing risk of heart disease, anti-aging, and improving vision. Use the nuts in salads and other recipes, or simply enjoy them as a snack.
5. 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 diffusing the oil at home, 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.
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science
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
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.
I found Pine syrup in Macedonia and thanks for article I was so excited to find this hidden gem 🥰
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.
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.
Thank you for this article.
I live on 67 acres that has many different types of pine trees.
I am blessed!
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!
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.
You mention “pine, spruce, and fir,” and then you go on to talk about pine exclusively. What about the other conifers?
Just FYI, you mixed the family and genus names: family is Pinaceae, genus is Pinus
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
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.
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.
I lived in my car for 3 years I’m a traveling psychic it’s all local though. it started out as being not so good of a thing to being just what I needed isn’t that usually the case. I had to learn how to cultivate my gift plant medicine is my passion and the irony is this morning I was telling my 20 year old son that I was transitingto work how much I wanted a rosemary plant which looks like a miniature Christmas tree in my car I felt it would be the thing that carried all my negative feelings because I couldn’t put my finger on it and I’m sure it’s the collective so thank you for this timely article that is my ultimate dream to live in the midst of forest filled with pine and cedar in a treehouse but I’ll settle for an off-grid earth-friendly home such as a cob or even an earth ship as much as I’d like the concept I’m not really sure it’s right fit for me unless the plans were modified anyway thanks again
It would be great to learn how to collect pitch or bark extract?
I live in Arizona and we have lots of ponderosa pine. Is this a good tree to work with?
Liz, I have heard that the Ponderosa Pines are not safe to use…poisonous (?). I would seriously research that before proceeding. I was told to look for White Pine exclusively, so I am assuming it may be the only “safe” form.
Great Article, As always, I learned so much from them. And, I’ve used the recipes for my family.
Thank you so much
Hello, my name is Mj. Love your article. I’m new at the use of natural medicines. My question is, are all pines medicinal? If not, which ones are?
Thank you so much for the info, I always love learning about plant medicine.
I strongly advise before going in your backyard that you are aware of the use of glycophosphate and other deadly chemicals used by public works, utility companies and of course the telecommunications for ‘line of sight.’ This results in contaminated soil and particularly in the northern states, pine trees have been shown to have oxidation products within their systems. If your trees are dead 2/3 up, then you have been sprayed. Pine trees die naturally under the skirt but not towards the top. The top is the growth area.
l would like to hear more fascinating stories please.
Pine pollen should be mentioned as well.
I’ve been doing some research on the healing properties of pine gum. I recently discovered 100% pine gum spirits/essence of turpentine. This is not the turpentine at the hardware store.
So I ordered a bottle. Just received it and put some on an infected fire ant bite cluster that I’ve been having trouble getting to heal. In less than 1-2 hours, the infection knot has disappeared and I can see my skin healing, right in front of me.
I have a candida problem which is the main reason I ordered this turpentine. There are rave reviews on Amazon and Etsy…I ordered from Etsy. I am starting the protocol today for ingesting with sugar and castor oil. I know I am going to have amazing results.
I’d like to know how well it’s healing candida. I have that problem. Thank you
Native Americans have used pine needles to treat scurvy for centuries. During the 1918 pandemic, in the Pacific Northwest, they noticed that such patients did not get the Flu. Pine is rich in shikimic acid, which is an ingredient in Theraflu, and has many other antivirals as well. I’ve been drinking pine needle tea daily for the past year and a half and have stayed healthy.
Someone mentioned ponderosa pine. My info is that this tree may be toxic. Others to avoid are yew and Norfolk or Australian pines. And remember, not all evergreens are pines.
Two weeks ago, participating in a Christmas bazaar, a vendor next to me mentioned I must look into the strong medicinal properties of pine tea, and by the way, would I make her some. I had not considered the trees that populate my home as medicinal, and then this morning I received this email from you. It never fails to amaze me how knowledge comes in and asserts itself when necessary. I am intriqued and will engage the trees here to learn all they have to teach. Thanks for that. Armed with what we know, that we intuit, and learn first hand we must share this Earth knowledge as She delivers it to us. It is our salvation and our future and the Mother cares for us and teaches us in unsuspecting ways. Love it. Happy holidays.
Thank you so much for sharing the knowledge on Pine Medicine & the included recipes. It is very timely! Thank you for your service to humanity especially during these times when we need to get the Shikimic Acid into our bodies! In deep gratitude & Much love!
Do the pine needles for tea need to be fresh or can you still use them with beneficial results when they are brown?
Thank you Nick Polizzi! I’m grateful to you for showing up, sharing, caring & loving us all.
I make salves & I just intuit this will be a healing & precious added onto the other salves & healing balms I already create. Excited to make it soon. Bless your ever loving heart brother!
Are I Norbert knew
Any of this information
many years, ago we had a visitor from Russia, a Dr from the military medical college.
after the presentation he gifted us with capsules of pine oil , made from the pine forests’that survived the Chernobyl nuclear explosion.
he said, Every thing was devasted’except the pine forest.
it is a powerful medicine….
In the Australian bush flower essence, pine needles are also used to heal emotional expects of the body…..
Thank you Nick for sharing the vital information of Pine!! Since I’m a child I love to burn the wood of Pine for its scent.. I’m going to try some of your recipes in particular the tea’s, thanks again happy holidays and new year to you and families.
Many of the pines can be poisonous to people so I think you should vet which pine trees are acceptable to use for consumption.
I’m reading the list of the issues pine bark can help. Its very versatile. Do you know if it will help tinnitus? Two of the conditions — “prevent hearing loss, restore balance” — are also found with tinnitus. BUT, no one seems to be able to delve into the causes and treatment of tinnitus. I’d appreciate your comments.
Love the post. What a seasonal gift
HOW TO FIND THE NUTS OF THE PINECONE. WHERE ARE THEY? IT SAYS TO USE YOUNG NEEDLES BUT IT’S DECEMBER NOW SO DOES THAT MEAN I HAVE TO WAIT UNDER SPRING TO GATHER THEM FOR TEA?
Never watched a squirrel? You rip the scales off the cone, and they’re at the base. Though most species, they’re too small to be worth the effort of harvesting.
And while the new-growth needles in spring may be “best” (i.e. mildest), older (2-year) needles have more Vit C (but a more bitter flavor). The younger needles will be at the tips and a bit lighter; I’m not sure how quickly they darken after spring.
I’m very interested in recipe #2. How do you use it for diabetes and erectile dysfunction?
Could you give me the recipe? Do you drink it, eat it and how do you make it?
where can you find a good source of pine needles to use in these recipes?
Where can we purchase pine bark, resin, and pineneedles if we are not comfortable foraging for them?
This could explain why one of my cats tries to drink the tree water–she is trying to self medicate.
Pines, pines, pines (“and make sure they’re true pines.”)! How about the spruces and the firs and the rest of the evergreens?
Hello Mr. Pollozi,
I was not aware of the many natural benefits that a pine tree has. 🌲 Myself being a breast cancer 🎀 survivor for six blessed years 🙏 now. But from the treatments my immune system and body have suffered many not so good changes. Such as Adrenal failure stage 3, and Osteoporosis in my spine, neck, and left hip, and here lately I have right side sciatic spasms. I went from a tall 5’8″ down to 5’6″ in a very short time. I try not to get loaded down with medications or over the counter products.
I do my daily EFT TAPPING meditation and try to use more natural herbs in my diet.
Can I store the pine needles and bark in massanary jars and if so for how long is their shelf life?
Than you, for taking the time to read my comment.
Blessings to you & yours this Holiday season.
Las Vegas Nevada
I live in an area in Minnesota with heavy soil. Pine trees do not do well here, but I have a hundred Spruce trees in my windbreak. What can I use and how from Black Hills and Blue Spruce?
I thank you for sharing your knowledge
Tis the season. We are so blessed by nature healing pine trees.
I am French, and yes in my country these recipes are known by herbalists and work, even against Covid.
Thank you for sharing
I grew up surrounded by pine trees and had no idea how valuable they are. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and recipes
I find all this do helpful for my health thank you so much.
do you travel and lecture? Carol Nimmons, Georgia
Aren’t some pine needles/trees toxic?
Indigenous medicine has helped for hundreds of years. Is it a perfect cure all? No, but I would trust it before an unnatural “medicine” that has more side affects then cures and only masks the problem.
Keep up the good work you are doing.
Thank you Nick! The scents of the conifer trees have always carried me into soulful depths…I grew up playing in the woods of the Northwest in S. Oregon, playing and making ‘pretend’ cococtions . My father was of both Cherokee and Choctaw descent, and my parents met on S. Cal. and moved to Oregon where My Moms parents were from. They were Irish and English. I think with both Native American roots and Celtic Ancestors, I have always had a natural inclination for plant medicines. Studying what you have so carefully researched and shared is a sacred gift to me. I have movedc home to he woods after 35 years spent both n the Caribbean and LA. What a wonderful time to develop more knowledge and practice of making herbal medicines!!
I found your information very interesting & I’m wondering if there are any benefits from
Ginkgo trees? We have two ginkgo trees in our front yard & their probably as old as our house we bought 18 years ago, the home I believe was built in 1961. I have been told the ginkgo trees are slow growing, this is all I know about them other than they have pretty green leaves that turn a pretty yellow in the Fall.