A Walk in a Pine Forest and Our Health
With the supply chain for many supplements being impacted by slower arrival times, there are some natural ingredients that are not only delicious but also healthful and relatively easy to find. In North America we can easily find the white pine trees. They tend to be in the upper half of the United States and the cousin of the White Pine, the Red Pine, tends to be in
much higher altitudes, but can also be found in many areas of the US. It turns out, walking in the pine forests can supply us with a lovely reward that is easy to enjoy after a lovely walk.
What am I hinting at? It’s Pine Needle Tea ! Historically, the White Pine was called “the tree of Peace” by the Iroquois Indians. They drank this tea as a ceremonial tea and to drive off “wrong” spirits. By this, it seems they meant that it kept colds and sniffles at bay. The woodsy and fragrant tea has many beneficial effects. These are just a few:
-Expectorant- getting phlegm out
-Decongestant- opens up the breathing pathways
-Benefits vision- it is assumed this is due to the vitamin A content
-Benefits focus and cognition
-Enhances heart health
-Speeds overall healing processes
-Regenerates skin and hair
In addition to these benefits, some doctors use the pine needle tea in a concentrated form for the treatment of certain cancers. Aside from the diverse health benefits, Pine Needle Tea also has a wonderfully subtle and tasty flavor. It does have to be the correct pine needle though, since there are some pines that can be toxic and cause negative effects like nausea, vomiting and possibly diarrhea. The trees to avoid are the Ponderosa, Balsam Fir, Lodgepole, Monterey, Norfolk Island and Yew Pines. The safest and most commonly used for tea are the Eastern White Pine and Noble Fir. If you don’t have access to a pine forest or don’t want to take a chance picking your own pine needles, there are several vendors online that offer excellent pine needles. Seek ones from cooler climates like Canada, the upper half of the USA or northern Europe. While there are pines in other regions, these areas are pristine and tend to have heartier pines. In any case, it is preferable to use the fresh, vibrant green needles to make your tea. To make the tea, it is a quick and easy process.
Things you need: A non- aluminum pot (depending upon how much you would like to make), fresh pine needles, water, a strainer, a container for the Pine Needle Tea, cheesecloth (optional), a mug, honey or stevia to taste (also optional).
- Pick the freshest needles and avoid the brownish ones if you can. The brown ones are not bad, but they may not supply the same flavor and nutrients as the green. Rinse the pine needles under cool water in a strainer.
- Take a pot that has enough room to fill 1/3 of the pot with the pine needles. You can chop them a bit into smaller pieces to allow for more pine needles and water.
- Place the pine needles into the pot, cover them with
ample water and fill the pot as high as you can without
the water boiling over when cooking
- Cook the needles until you reach a gentle boil and turn off the heat. Leave the pine needles in the pot and allow them to steep for 12 minutes with a cover ON the pot.
- Strain the needles out and catch the Pine Needle Tea in
your non-plastic tea container. If there is any leaf or debris in the tea, you can run it through a cheesecloth before putting it into your mug.
- Pour the golden Pine Needle Tea into your mug, taste,
and either add honey or stevia to sweeten it to your liking.
- ENJOY and don’t forget to savor the lovely scent of the tea.
If you don’t finish the whole container as a tea, you can cool the tea and use it as an anti-bacterial wash. It has a smooth and soothing effect on the skin and can be mildly invigorating.
If you love to walk in nature and have access to White Pines, it doesn’t require a lot of pines to make the lovely tea. As someone who enjoys making my own treats and teas, I enjoy this tea immensely. It makes me feel as though I am taking the nature walk home with me. I hope it inspires you to try it and have the same joy from this simple healthful tea!
Stephanie Schneider LAc, Dipl.OM, CH