Sunday, April 22, 2012

Harvesting medicinal's from Pine Trees on your homestead

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You probably have pine trees growing already on your homestead.  There are 34 pine trees or shrubs native to North America, with 9 of them native to Canada.  Pine trees commonly grow near spruce, fir, cottonwood, aspen, and alder trees.  If you don’t have pine growing near you, spruce has some of the same medicinal qualities, although the needles of the spruce are stiffer, and shorter.  Shake hands with the tree.  If the needles don’t give under the pressure of your hand but prick you instead, you are touching a spruce tree.  Pine needles will lie down in your palm, without pricking you.
Ponderosa Pine Tree overlooking Osoyoos,BC

Pine has several medicinal actions:

  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-infectious
  • Anitfungal
  • Antidiabetic
  • Neurotonic
  • Decongestant of the lymphatic system
  • Parasiticide
  • anti-catarrhal
  • stimulant
  • tonic
The flowers, needles, twigs, and pitch are all used medicinally.
The pine may be used in cases of bronchitis, sinusitis, or upper respiratory catarrh, [cough], both as an inhalant and internally.  It may also be helpful in asthma.  The stimulating action gives the herb a role in the internal treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.  There is a tradition of adding a preparation of the twigs to bath water to ease fatigue, nervous debility, and sleeplessness, as well as aiding the healing of cuts and soothing skin irritations.  (The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 124)

Pine Tincture

Take pine twigs in the Spring as the flowers are opening.  Both male and female flowers will appear on the same branch.  Take a 6 inch piece of the branch that includes the tip, needles, and flowers.  Fill a jar with the twigs.  Top up with Vodka.  Allow to sit in a warm place or sunny window for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking daily.  Strain and bottle.  To use take 2 to 3ml twice daily.

Pine Needle Tea

This is full of vitamin C and was a cure for scurvy.  Take fresh pine needles and make a decoction by pouring boiled water over the needles.  Allow to steep for 15 minutes.  Drink 3 times daily as a tonic.
Pine pitch in olive oil, finished pine first aid salve, pine needle basket with linen thread: Lots of uses for the pine tree on your homestead

Pine Pitch Oil

Pine pitch oil is a wound healer.  It draws poisons and splinters out of the body and aids in healing serious injuries.  It acts as a counter irritant by increasing the flow of white blood cells to an infected area, heightening the bodies own immune response.  It is also antiseptic and cleanses the tissues.  In an emergency situation soft pine pitch can be taken directly from the tree and put on a wound, a spider bite, or a sting.  It will draw the poison out of the wound.
To get a refined product that can be stored in your medicine cabinet, place wads of pine pitch — both the soft, fresh pitch, and the hard pieces in a glass jar.  Fill the jar with olive oil.  Place in a warm place like a sunny window sill or near a wood stove.  Shake the jar daily until all the pine pitch dissolves into the oil.  When done the oil will take on a piney scent and the pitch will be less hardened.  It can take several weeks if the pitch is quite hard when it is put in the jar.  Strain the oil through cloth and a fine strainer.  Bottle and use in making first aid salves and healing balms.

Wound Healing salve

2 tbsp. melted bees wax
1/4 cup. pine infused oil
2 tbsp. coconut oil.
Mix together and put in a 4 oz. glass jar.  Label and use for cuts, scrapes, insect stings, and to draw splinters from a wound, or help with an infection.

Other uses of Pine:

Livestock feed:
Pine branches can be used in winter to feed livestock.  Goats and sheep enjoy them when they are getting bored of hay, especially in February and March.  Spruce isn’t used in this way as much, as the shorter, stiffer needles can hurt the mouths of livestock.   Goats don’t seem to mind this and will eat spruce as well as pine.

Livestock first aid:

For animals suffering from foot rot, clean the hoof, soak in Epsom salts and dry completely, pack with pine pitch or pine oil.  Bandage to keep clean and dry.

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