PINE – ever green, ever fresh, for ever strong

Pine trees are evergreen trees of the Pinaceae family (Conifers) which reach a height up to 50 m and may become 1000 years old. The essential oils of them spread an aromatic, woody-fresh and unique fragrance which is popular especially in aromatherapy. In comparison with other species of Conifers Pine needles are very long, mostly arranged in pairs. Most species are monoecious which means male and female cones are found on the same tree. The cones need one and a half or two years to mature, then open, release the seeds and are dropped to the ground. The seeds depending of the species are spread by the wind or animals.

Pines are native particularly in the northern and southern hemisphere of our planet and prefer a cool, humid climate. However, some species also settle in tropical and subtropical regions. Especially in Korea and Japan Pine is connected with a symbolic signification. For the people there the tree means strength, longevity and the patience of a saint. Therefore we find them around of temples and gardens. In China Pine also stands for longevity, persistence and self-discipline. Together with bamboo and plum tree it belongs to the three friends of the winter.

In some areas monocultures have been created which are easy to be taken care of. The tall, mostly unbranched cylindrical trunks provide excellent timber, but nevertheless it is not wise to cultivate them in monocultures because they are more susceptible to forest fire and insect damage than mixed forests. In the long run Pine cultivation leads to acidification of the soil and prevents the growth of many other species.

All Conifer trees extrude resins to quite some degree. Pine resin is called the gold of the north. And Amber is fossilised, petrified resin originating from Pine trees some 50 million years ago. Amber is popular in pieces of jewellery and also esteemed for its power to withdraw nausea from the body. The stone is regarded as holy by the north-American Indians as well as by the population of India. It absorbs negative energy and supports the self-healing process when put on the disharmonious or hurting part of the body. Its glorious golden colour reflection is connected with the navel-chakra and is able to revitalize the energies of the inner organs. Since the middle ages Pine resin was used for fumigation and disinfection. It is said to transform vital energy into unconditioned love, to reconnect the lower self with the higher self.

Scots Pine

The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of medium sized twigs with needles and cones finely chopped into wood shavings after harvesting. An essential oil only from the needles, as often claimed, does not exist. There are always parts of the wood and the bark which go together with the needles for distillation of ALL Conifer oils. The main chemical ingredients of the essential oils in most of them are monoterpenes (alpha- and beta-pinene). But depending on which part of the tree and what kind of Pine species is used for distillation, the essential oil may contain also other compounds such as ethers and esters etc. The fresh note of Scots Pine’s essential oil is typical for all Conifer oils. We owe a lot to this group for the oxygenation of our planet Earth.

And the needles… Conifer trees came up with this more or less sharp and spiky form of “leaves” which helped them to stay evergreen, resist evaporation, avoid problems from cold or overheating. One can say that the needle is a contracted leaf – and this allows the tree to not loose its “leafiness” in winter and stay green. And this “survival” theme of the “Mercurius” part of the tree as would say the Alchemists (the leaf is a messenger from root to blossom), tells us also its story about the essential oil which it contains in generous amounts. Yes, not only the thin needles but also the essential oil in them play their role in terms of temperature balancer during ice cold winters and hot summers. And since they are so abundantly present in the “breathing system” of the tree, means in that part where oxygen and carbon-dioxide pulsate, they carry this signature with them on to the next step of their mission on Earth, the realm of healing. This “needle mood” of the Conifers shows a defence mechanism of rare efficiency. And who would really like to bite into a cluster of Spruce needles (the sharpest of the Conifer group)…? :):) So, again a signature for the essential oils: strong in defence against all kinds of challengers.

Scots Pine grouping together in South of France

With this strong power of oxygen-carbon-dioxide pulsations of their evergreen – ever “active” – needles, it is no wonder that Conifer trees release essential oils which are traditionally used to detoxify and strengthen our mucus membranes of lungs, bronchia and sinuses. In case of these complaints it is an excellent choice to have some drops of the essential oil in a diffuser or benefit from simple direct inhalations from the bottle or a few drops on a handkerchief. Maybe a few drops on a face mask during the Covid pandemic ? Pine oil contains bound natural oxygen and hence favours a stronger intake of oxygen and an increased out-breathing of carbon dioxide: a powerful energizing momentum for the whole system. Not to forget the proven anti-microbial effects of the oil. Certainly, the first therapy of a Pine oil always emphasizes its impact on respiratory disorders like bronchitis, sinusitis, coughs, catarrh, sore throat, asthma etc. But in a secondary stroke many other inflammatory or infectious disorders like cystitis, urinary infection, cold and flu etc. are successfully treated with it by virtue of its proven anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects.

Another secondary effect of the stimulation of our energy metabolism is a normalization of thyroid functioning. And with its cortison-like properties, similar to Black Spruce, Scots Pine also energizes the adrenal glands, making it an excellent neuro-tonic and a powerful ally in case of a weakened functioning of the immune system. Also problems of arthritis, rheumatism and muscular pains are related to therapies with Scots Pine. Similar to Rosemary, Thyme, Cinnamon or Tea Tree, Scots Pine is a soft hyper-tenser and extremely effective in cases of asthenia, fatigue, nervous exhaustion and stress. Its direct straight-forward energy instills confidence, courage, boldness, and untwisted clearness needed by those ducked down by the burden of memories and what one calls “fate” or “karma”… A shaft of ancient plant power to set the mind clear and and get strong again.

With its antiseptic and disinfectant properties to purify the respiratory track by inhalation as we saw, all Conifer oils are an expression for the inherent life force specially present in trees. This makes us also understand why among the “Bach Blossoms Therapy” Pine is used to treat guilt feelings, a topic very present particularly in the Christian areas of the world, where the individual always is confronted with challenges which he cannot fulfil because they contradict the laws of nature and life as a whole. And guilt feelings easily attack the free flow of breathing… .

Inner balance is necessary to provide enough light energy for our organism. Here Pine essential oil is a good remedy to start a new learning process and open a beautiful access to precious vitality which is able to free us from our anxieties, frustrations and physical pains. Lying down under Pines in a forest and listening to the rushing of the branches created by the wind is a music which Pine trees are masters to bring about. Its music touches our hearts reminding us of the sounds of heavenly spheres. The success of the “Shinrin-yoku” therapy (forest bathing) in Japan has a lot to do with this beautiful plant family.

Today a Pine tree is a familiar sight during Christmas time, and the cosmetic and perfume industry uses it as an ingredient in their products due to its forest-like aroma. Also very welcome in steam baths and saunas. Pine oil is also found among many foodstuffs as a flavouring component. Native Americans used the Scots Pine tree extracts to prevent scurvy, and they favoured it as an insect repellent and filled their matrasses to protect themselves from fleas and ticks. It is also effective in case of skin parasites such as lice, scabies and myiasis.

The disinfectant capabilities of Pine with its slightly antiseptic potential can help to eliminate the causative agents of cholera, dysentery, enteric fever, gastroenteritis, gonorrhea, whooping coughs and some forms of meningitis. The antiseptic effect of Pine is also used in homeopathic substances.

Pine oil blends well with all other Conifer oils, also with oils from the Citrus group like Lemon, Bergamot, Grapefruit, etc. Also Clary Sage, Cypress, Eucalyptus oils, Frankincense, Lavender, Majoram, Niaouli, Peppermint, Ravintsara, Rosemary, Sage, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, Thyme are easily going together with Pine oils.

Some scientific research

In a review of research, Pine bark in vivo and in vitro studies were promising against cancer, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, inflammatory and oxidative stress related diseases. It may also have a neuroprotective effect. Human studies are needed.

From: Mármol, I., Quero, J., Jiménez-Moreno, N., Rodríguez-Yoldi, M. J., & Ancín-Azpilicueta, C. (2019).

Anti-inflammatory

Scots Pine inhibits the production of proinflammatory mediators.

From: Karonen, M., Hämäläinen, M., Nieminen, R., Klika, K. D., Loponen, J., Ovcharenko, V. V., … & Pihlaja, K. (2004).

Scots Pine contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.

From: Laavola, M., Nieminen, R., Leppänen, T., Eckerman, C., Holmbom, B., & Moilanen, E. (2015).

Typical shape of a Scots Pine

Anti-fungal -anti-microbial

At a dilution of 2.5%, Pine oil was effective against certain airborne fungi. This can help improve indoor air quality.
From: Motiejūnaitė, O., & Dalia Pečiulytė, D. (2004). Fungicidal properties of Pinus sylvestris L. for improvement of air quality. Medicina (Kaunas), 8, 787-794.

Pine needle essential oil showed antimicrobial activity against respiratory pathogens and was larvicidal against the fruit fly in vitro.
From: Mitić, Z. S., Jovanović, B., Jovanović, S. Č., Mihajilov-Krstev, T., Stojanović-Radić, Z. Z., Cvetković, V. J., … & Stojanović, G. S. (2018).

Pine needle essential oil showed antimicrobial activity against respiratory pathogens and was larvicidal against the fruit fly in vitro.
From: Mitić, Z. S., Jovanović, B., Jovanović, S. Č., Mihajilov-Krstev, T., Stojanović-Radić, Z. Z., Cvetković, V. J., & Stojanović, G. S. (2018)

Sleep

Alpha Pinene, a major constuent of Pine oils, improved non-REM sleep in vivo.

From: Yang, H., Woo, J., Pae, A. N., Um, M. Y., Cho, N. C., Park, K. D., … & Cho, S. (2016)

Psychological effects

As we saw already, Pine is definitely an oil for the respirtory system. But with this it is also an oil for the heart. When we activate our lungs and increase our breathing capacities we simultaneously tonify our blood circulation, our car-diac strength and also, not to forget, our lymphatic system. This means : we de-stress in ONE go our physiology and our psychology or, in other words, we in-crease the tonus of our “body-mind” (Candace Pert) – and touch our soul. As we have seen, all Conifer oils have a direct influence on the adrenal glands, and putting a few drops of these oils directly on the kidney area can be an amazing helper for recovering our energy, physical, mental, and psychological. And in-haling such an oil for a few minutes makes the brain rejoice, especially there where the limbic system governs our days.

Some recipes

Arthritis (Franchomme)

Cutaneous way with a “cortison-like” aim in connection with a cutaneous way for anti-inflammatory action.

Scots Pine: 5 ml
Black Spruce: 5 ml
in carrier oil Hazelnut oil: 20 ml
1 to 2 applications per day to the back and lumbar region (adrenal area), for 20 days

Multiple sclerosis (Franchomme)

Cutaneous way with “cortison-like” aim in connection with a cutaneous way for anti-viral action

Scots Pine: 5 ml
Black spruce: 5 ml
in Gel: 100 ml supplement
1 application per day on the back opposite the adrenal cortical zone (morning or during the outbreak) for 20 days, stop for 10 days, then repeat

Physical fatigue (Baudoux)

Scots Pine: 2 ml
Black Spruce: 2 ml
Peppermint: 1 ml
Balsam Fir: 1 ml
4 drops of the mixture in the lower back (at the level of the kidneys) – morning and noon, during one week

Decreased concentration (Baudoux)

Scots Pine: 1 ml
Tropical Basil: 2 ml
Peppermint: 2 ml
2 drops of the mixture, on 1/4 of a sugar cube – morning and noon, before meals

cf. http://www.clenama.com/Huiles-essentielles/ft-pin-sylvestre.htm

Stone Pine

Another Pine specy is the famous Stone Pine (Pinus cembra). It belongs to the most majestic trees among the Pinaceae plant family. Some call it ‘Queen of the Alps’ – and on the occasion of the ‘Day of the Forest’ on March 21. 2011 in Austria it has been declared the ‘Tree of the Year’ due to its protecting proper-ties in case of avalanches and danger of flooding, and due to its highly estima-ted wood quality as well as its outstanding healing properties. Growing close to the tree limit at an altitude of 1800 – 2400 metres in the high mountains of Alpine regions Stone Pine develops extraordinary robustness and resistance to hardest climatic conditions. The force of nature attacks its vitality through snow, storm, flashes of lightning and extreme temperatures thereby stimula-ting and strengthening its survival powers. Stone Pine prefers soils of granite, rock, slate, limestone and sandstone. Its roots are able to penetrate through clefts in the rock and anchor themselves in those fissures. It reaches a height of 20 – 30 m and may become 1000 years old. Among the names of Stone Pine we also find ‘Umbrella Tree’ because of its parasol appearance. Spreading its branches like a domed crown the viewer only can admire this ornamental specimen.

Easy to understand that the tree’s impressive physical properties inspire the hearts of many to apply them to their inner strengthening and revival of spirit in case they have been discouraged through some circumstances. Stone Pine radiates vitality and perseverance. Consequently the immune system expe-riences revitalizing effects which in turn grant impulses to mental and emotio-nal stamina. The essential oil intensifies our faculty of concentration while at the same time unfolding calming and relaxing qualities. As all Conifer oils it has proven regenerating abilities for the respiratory system. And it is very helpful if we are suffering from phlegm, cough or cold. Stone Pine oil invites deep breathing and thereby heightens substantially the oxygen uptake. Here also inner appliance of a few drops mixed with honey given in a cup of tea or lukewarm water one or two times per day is recommended. This is also bene-ficial in case of weak blood circulation.

Among the medicinal virtues we have seen already that inhaling the fragrance of Pine oils – here specifically the oil of Stone Pine – is a means to lower the rhythm of our heart beat and thereby producing soothing effects and acting against insomnia. It is said that this appliance is able to save the physical body 3500 heartbeats per day which makes the work of one hour of the heart. Fur-thermore the essential oil is very popular in a preparation for vaporization on hot stones in a sauna. Also very recommendable to breathe in the scent before and after sports activities. It is an excellent air purifier and is apt to reload the vibrations in a room with new energies. The wood of the Stone Pine tree spreads an envigorating scent all around, a reason why in Alpine regions some restaurants and hotels are famous for their rooms lined with Stone Pine. And the furniture industry offers beds made out of Stone Pine to promote good night’s sleep – Aromatherapy direct….

Apart from inner intake and inhalation also outer appliances are worth to be emphasized. Added to a massage oil or to a bath Stone Pine oil relaxes tensions and intensifies regenerating reactions. By virtue of its blood circulation stimu-lating and pain killing characteristics it is helpful if aching muscles or rheuma-tic complaints are the problem. In combination with Cedarwood and Lavender Stone Pine acts as an insect repellent. The perfume industry uses Stone Pine oil in toilet waters for men combined with Oakmoss, Douglas and Clary Sage.

Again: a treasure of nature serving its demands in so many admirable ways that the name ‘Queen of the Alps’ looks to be well earned – and those that are familiar with the tree’s uplifting fragrance will always remember its therapeutic benefits and use them in case of need.

An experience with Stone Pine oil

“After picking up the order from Oshadhi I went to Chi Kung class and before entering I smelled the Stone Pine Essential Oil. When I walked into class I no-ticed that its scent had lingered in my nose, maybe a drop, and I thought, “let’s experiment, see what you want to tell me or teach me”.

It was amazing!!! We started the exercises and suddenly, when I closed my eyes, I saw myself hugging tightly to a Pine tree and he was lovingly embracing me. I stayed like that for most of the class. At the end I ended up sitting next to him, filling me with his energy. From the moment of the embrace, I began to yawn and tears fell down my cheeks for a long time and the feeling he trans-mitted to me was that you are not alone, take me always with you. It was a beautiful experience, thank you very much for what I live with your oils, before I met you, this did not happen to me”.

Eva Bouzas /Spain from : Mª Ángeles, Zaragoza

Please note :

All the properties, indications and methods of use of essential oils are taken from reference books, clinical or scientific studies, or websites in aromatherapy. They are regularly found there and for many confirmed by observations in thousands of scientific investigations from all over the world. The informations here or elsewhere on our websites or publications are given for sharing purposes only, and in no way constitute medical claims, nor do they engage our responsibility for any health problems and potential curative activities. For any use of essential oils in terms of therapeutic or clinical purposes please consult a medical practitioner.

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