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Pine, the Tall Medicine Cabinet

author & pollinator
Posts: 1120
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
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Pine, the Tall Medicine Cabinet

Sixty-three varieties of Pine have been found useful in Herbal Medicine!!!

Pinus albicaulis - White-Bark Pine, Pinus aristata - Bristle-Cone Pine, Pinus armandii - Chinese White Pine, Pinus ayacahuite - Mexican White Pine, Pinus banksiana - Jack Pine, Pinus bungeana - Lace-Bark Pine, Pinus californiarum, Pinus cembra - Swiss Stone Pine, Pinus cembra sibirica - Siberian Pine, Pinus cembroides - Mexican Pine Nut, Pinus cembroides orizabensis - Mexican Pine Nut, Pinus contorta - Beach Pine, Pinus contorta latifolia - Lodgepole Pine, Pinus coulteri - Big-Cone Pine, Pinus culminicola - Cerro Potosi Pinyon, Pinus densiflora - Japanese Red Pine, Pinus discolor, Pinus edulis - Rocky Mountain Pinon, Pinus echinata - Short-Leaf Pine, Pinus flexilis - Limber Pine, Pinus gerardiana - Chilghoza Pine, Pinus halepensis - Aleppo Pine, Pinus henryi Synonym: Pinus tabuliformis henryi, Pinus jeffreyi - Jeffrey Pine, Pinus johannis, Pinus koraiensis - Korean Nut Pine, Pinus lambertiana - Sugar Pine, Pinus leiophylla - Smooth-Leaf Pine, Pinus massoniana - Chinese Red Pine, Pinus monophylla - Single Leaf Pinon,  Pinus montezumae - Montezuma Pine, Pinus monticola - Western White Pine, Pinus mugo - Dwarf Mountain Pine, Pinus muricata - Bishop's Pine, Pinus nelsonii, Pinus nigra - Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra laricio - Corsican Pine,  Pinus palustris – Pitne, Pinus parviflora - Japanese White Pine, Pinus patula - Mexican Weeping Pine, Pinus pinaster - Maritime Pine, Pinus pinea - Italian Stone Pine, Pinus ponderosa - Ponderosa Pine, Pinus pumila - Dwarf Siberian Pine, Pinus pungens - Prickle Pine, Pinus quadrifolia - Parry Pinon, Pinus radiata - Monterey Pine, Pinus remota - Paper-Shell Pinon, Pinus resinosa - Red Pine, Pinus rigida - Northern Pitch Pine, Pinus roxburghii - Chir Pine, Pinus sabiniana - Digger Pine, Pinus serotina - Pond Pine, Pinus strobiformis - Southwestern White Pine, Pinus strobus - White Pine, Pinus sylvestris - Scot's Pine, Pinus tabuliformis - Chinese Red Pine, Pinus taeda - Loblolly Pine, Pinus teocote - Twisted Leaf Pine, Pinus thunbergii - Japanese Black Pine, Pinus torreyana - Soledad Pine, Pinus veitchii, Pinus virginiana - Scrub Pine, Pinus wallichiana - Himalayan Blue Pine

Only eight Pines are native to my region: Pinus echinata (Shortleaf Pine), Pinus palustris (Longleaf Pine), Pinus pungens (Table Mountain Pine), Pinus rigida (Pitch Pine), Pinus serotina (Pond Pine), Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine), Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine), Pinus virginiana (Virginia Pine).  Naturalized Pines include: Pinus clausa (Sand Pine), Pinus elliottii var. elliottii (Slash Pine), Pinus pinaster (Maritime Pine), Pinus resinosa (Red Pine), Pinus thunbergiana (Japanese Black Pine)

The state of my birth, North Carolina, is known as “The land of the longleaf pine” although, the loblolly is far more common.  It was the Pine that was the backbone of the early economy of the Carolinas.  The Pine tar industry was essential for ship building and is why North Carolinians were called “Tar heels”.  Pines are strongly medicinal and are excellent first aid. The virtues of turpentine, made from Pine are well known and have been in our medicine cabinets for centuries. I recently taught a class, entitled Four Ways Pines Can Save Your Life.  My points were:

1) The Pine is among our most edible trees.  It has been said that every part of the pine can be eaten… but, that would take a desperate effort.

2) Pine pitch can stop bleeding and disinfect a wound.

3) Pine needle tea or wine can prevent a sore throat from becoming life-threateningly severe, can help break a fever and is good against viruses and other infections.

4) Inhaling the vapors from immature male pollen cone can lower blood pressure and heartrate and help stop an asthma attack.

Dioscorides wrote extensively on the medical uses of Pine, below is a brief selection out of around 100 mentions:


SUGGESTED: Pinus rigida, Peuce [Pliny] — Pitch Pine

Pin, Pinus, Pinus pinea, Pinus sativa — Italian Stone Pine

Pitys is a well-known tree. There is another similar tree called peuce which differs in shape. The bark of both of them is astringent. Pounded into small pieces and a poultice then made of it, it is good with sediment [of wine] and manna [exudation of trees] for chafing, dermatitis, superficial ulcers and for burns. Taken with myrica wax ointment it brings boils to a scar in those with tender skin; and pounded into small pieces with blacking from a shoemaker it represses serpentia [snakebite]. It expels the birth and afterbirth out of the uterus taken asinhalations  (smoke, fumes); and taken as a drink it stops discharges of the intestines and encourages urine. Their leaves pounded into small pieces and made into a poultice lessen inflammation and keep wounds from being inflamed. Pounded into small pieces and boiled in vinegar they lessen toothache when [the teeth are] washed with the warm liquid. One teaspoon of the leaves  (taken as a drink with water, or honey and water) is good for liver disorders. The bark from the cones and the split leaves (taken in a drink) are good for the same purposes. A toeda [a piece of the heart of the tree] cut in small pieces in a decoction boiled with vinegar and held in to a tooth that suffers, lessens toothache. A paste is made from them suitable for preparations for enemas and suppositories. When they are burning a soot is taken, good to make writing ink, and good also to be put in medicines for the eyelids. It is also good for erosions at the corners of the eyes, weeping eyes and bald eyelids.


SUGGESTED: Pinus rigida, Peuce — Pitch Pine

Pinus mughus, Pinus nigra, Pinus maritima — Pineseeds, Pine

Pityides are the fruit of the pines [and of the pinus picea] found in the cones. They are astringent and somewhat warming. They help coughs and disorders of the chest taken either by themselves or with honey.


SUGGESTED: Pinus mughus, Pinus nigra,

Pinus maritima, Pinus pinea, Pinus rigida — Pine Cones

Fir cones cleaned and eaten or taken in a drink with passum [raisin wine] and cucumber seed are diuretic, and dull irritations of the bladder and kidneys. They also lessen rosiones [gnawing corrosion] of the stomach. Taken with juice of purslane they strengthen infirmity of the body, and dull the infection of fluids. Fir cones gathered whole from the trees, pounded while they are fresh, and boiled in passum [raisin wine] are good for old coughs and consumptive wasting if three cups of this liquid is taken every day.

Gerard wrote of the virtues of the Pine:

A. The kernels of these nuts do concoct and moderately heat, being in a mean between cold and hot: it maketh the rough parts smooth; it is a remedy against an old cough, and long infirmities of the chest, being taken by itself or with honey, or else with some other licking thing.

B. It cureth the phthisic, and those that pine and consume away through the rottenness of their lungs: it recovereth strength; it nourisheth and is restorative to the body. It yieldeth a thick and good juice, and nourisheth much, yet is it not altogether easy of digestion, and therefore it is mixed with preserves, or boiled with sugar.

C. The same is good for the stone in the kidneys, and against frettings of the bladder, and scalding of the urine, for it allayeth the sharpness, mitigateth pain, and gently provoketh urine: moreover, it increaseth milk and seed, and therefore it also provoketh fleshly lust.

D. The whole Cone or Apple being boiled with fresh Horehound, saith Galen, and afterwards boiled again with a little honey till the decoction be come to the thickness of honey, maketh an excellent medicine for the cleansing of the chest and lungs.

E. The like thing hath Dioscorides; the whole cones, saith he, which are newly gathered from the trees, broken and boiled in sweet wine are good for an old cough, and consumption of the lungs, if a good draught of that liquor be drunk every day.

F. The scales of the Pine apple, with the bark of the tree, do stop the lask and the bloody flux, they provoke urine; and the decoction of the same hath the like property.

Mrs. Grieves preferred the White pine for medicinal value, as doI: “Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, demulcent, diuretic, a useful remedy in coughs and colds, having a beneficial effect on the bladder and kidneys.”  I would caution though, that pine can irritate the kidneys with prolonged use or in large amounts.

An Irish Herbal states:

The bark, eaves and cones are of a dry, astringent nature.  They stop diarrhea and dysentery and provoke urine.  Boiled in vinegar, the leaves alleviate toothache.  The kernels of the pine apples are beneficial for the lungs, kidneys, liver and spleen.  They loosen phlegm and are good for consumptive cough.

Fr. Kneipp recommended a bath of Pine:

The pine-sprig bath. It is prepared as follow : The sprigs (the fresher the better), small branches, even very resinous pine-cones, all cut in pieces, are thrown into hot water and boiled for half an hour , the rest as above said. This bath, too, is of good effect against diseases of the kidneys and bladder, but not so strong as the bath of oat-straw. Its chief effect is on the skin, which is brought to activity by it, and on the interior vessels which it strengthens. This fragrant and strengthening bath, is the proper bath for more aged people.

Brother Aloysius wrote of Larch Pine:

A fungus, called larch fungus, grows all over the trunk of old larch trees.  The white, loose substance within the fungus, is very useful in curbing excessive perspiration of consumptives if given every evening in a dose of ½ to 1 gram.  A dose of 2 to 4 grams has a purgative action.

Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests states:

This tree shoots up into a straight shaft, devoid of branches sometimes for fifty or sixty feet; the heart is very durable, and the wood is employed for almost every purpose. It is, indeed, one of the great gifts of God to man, for it furnishes to every one an abundant material for fuel, fire, warmth and light. The forests of pine are not only useful but beautiful. The characteristic moan of the winds through their branches, their funereal aspect, almost limitless extent, and the health-giving influences which attend their presence, all contribute to make the pine an object of peculiar interest to the people of the Southern States. The terebinthinate odor of the tree, somaelectrical influence of its long, spear-like leaves, a certain modification of " ozone," (an allotropic condition of oxygen, according to Faraday,) are severally esteemed to modify the atmosphere and diminish the effects of malaria. They also create a mechanical barrier to the ingress of malaria, and hence the pine land residences, though condemned for their sterile aspect, have proved a blessing to the Southern planters in affording a comparatively safe refuge from the unhealthy emanations of the neighboring plantations. I need not describe the processes for making Tar. It is a very compound substance, (see Rural Cyc.,) and contains modified resin, oil of turpentine, empyreumatic oil, acetic acid, charcoal and water, and when inspissated by boiling is converted into pitch. It is extensively used in the cordage, caulking and sheathing of ships, to preserve them from the weather. It is of great service in many of the arts and medicinal usages connected with agriculture. I will add what Wilson states of its economical employment, as it may be made of great service on our plantations and in veterinary medicine. It serves well as a paint to coarse kinds of boarding and paling but is improved in its use by the addition of tallow or other coarse fat. It is applied as a covering to cuts on animals, and to parts affected by the fly. It serves, either alone or in combination with some fatty substance, to defend the sore or diseased feet of cattle from being further injured by wet or abrasion ; when spread upon coarse cloth it is a prime covering for broken horns, and makes an excellent application to various kinds of wounds and punctures in cattle. It is given internally to horses as a remedy for cough; also as a detergent and local remedy for scaly and eruptive diseases. Rural Cyc. It is used to cover the lower surface of posts to prevent their rotting, and grain soaked in it is not eaten by birds. Tar water was formerly much used in medicine, but at present wood naphtha and pyroligneous acid, etc., are commonly employed. The buds of the pine or the inside barks steeped in water is a favorite domestic remedy on our plantations for colds and coughs. Bits of fat pine steeped, in gin are also used. A decoction of the inside bark is given daily as a remedy in chronic diarrhea. Pills of resin are often employed as a simple diuretic. Resin also enters into the composition of strengthening plasters. Wilson, in his Rural Cyc, articles "Fuel" and "Charcoal," gives the best mode of preparation, including the quality and yield of several trees. See Salix, in this volume, for manufacture of charcoal. The chief consumption of charcoal is as fuel. It is also employed as a tooth powder and to purify tainted meat. No mode of preparation for the first of these objects is at all necessary, and for the two last it must merely be reduced to a fine powder. It forms a part of all reducing fluxes. It is the basis of most black paints and varnishes. It is used to polish brass and copper, and is an excellent clarifier. It is used in farriery, in combination with linseed meal, as an anti-septic cataplasm for foul and fetid ulcers. Powdered charcoal must be heated to redness in a covered crucible, with an opening in the middle of the cover, and kept in that state till no flame issues out; it must then be withdrawn, allowed to cool, and then put into close vessels. Whenever either wine, vinegar, or other fluid is to be clarified it is simply to be mixed with the liquor; a froth appears at the surface, and after filtration it is pure and colorless. Charcoal is also used as a valuable manure, fully described in Wilson's Eural Cyc. Charcoal and sand placed in the bottom of a barrel or hogshead will purify water passed through it. (See Salix.) It is generally believed that it will prevent contagion, yellow fever, etc., if taken during the prevalence of an epidemic. It is also used as a mild mechanical laxative in dyspepsia with foul stomach. See medical authors. Its power of absorbing gases and vapors is well known.

Euell Gibbons tells us:

Dried white pine bark is still a valuable ingredient in cough remedies.  It is an official drug in the US Pharmacopoeia, The National Formulary and the US Dispensatory.  Its medicinal properties are expectorant and diuretic.  It is most often prescribed in the title role of Compound White Pine Syrup, or, as a doctor would write it on your prescription, Syrupus Pini Albae Compositus.  This is a real herbal mixture and a good illustration of the fact that modern medicine does not disdain remedies if they are effective.  This compound contains, not only white pine bark, but wild cherry, spikenard, poplar buds, bloodroot, sassafras root bark and Amaranth.

Unfortunately, while Gibbons’ statement was true when he wrote Stalking The Healthful Herbs in 1966, such is no longer the case. Pharmacists rarely compound medicines these days, as the pharmaceutical industry has become far more powerful and influential.  Chemicals have replaced herbs or “crude drugs” as they were called then… and, extremely flawed, even fraudulent, studies prohibit the sale of sassafras.

Plants for A Future States of our native Pines:

Medicinal use of Loblolly Pine, Pitch Pine, Prickle Pine, Pond Pine, Loblolly Pine, Scrub Pine and Short Leaf Pine: The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers.

Medicinal use of White Pine: White pine was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its antiseptic and vulnerary qualities, using it extensively in the treatment of skin complaints, wounds, burns, boils etc. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so was used in treating coughs, colds, influenza and so on. The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers. A poultice of pitch has been used to draw out toxins from boils and reduce the pain. The dried inner bark is demulcent, diuretic and expectorant. An infusion was used as a treatment for colds and it is still used as an ingredient in commercial cough syrups, where it serves to promote the expulsion of phlegm. A poultice made from the pounded inner bark is used to treat cuts, sores and wounds. The wetted inner bark can be used as a poultice on the chest in treating strong colds. The dried inner bark contains 10% tannin, some mucilage, an oleoresin, a glycoside and a volatile oil. A tea made from the young needles is used to treat sore throats. It is a good source of vitamin C and so is effective against scurvy. An infusion of the young twigs has been used in the treatment of kidney disorders and pulmonary complaints. The powdered wood has been used as a dressing on babies chaffed skin, sores and improperly healed navels.

Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers tells us:

Pine needles are strongly antiscorbutic and impart a pleasing taste to tea.  They also posses expectorant, diuretic and antiseptic activity as well.  The resin is the most strongly expectorant element of the plant, for this purpose and amount about the size of a raisin is chewed and swallowed.  Pine helps soften bronchial mucous and move it out of the system through expectoration.  In any condition where the lungs are congested without fruitful expectoration, it is useful.  As a diuretic and antiseptic, it is useful for urinary tract infections.  Pine is strong, and as a result, it is easy to take too much, which can aggravate active kidney and urethral inflammation.  The bark is fairly high in tannins and mucilaginous constituents.  These, combines with its antibacterial activity make it a highly useful herb for external wound poultices, as it will help stop bleeding, help damaged tissue bind together, soothe inflamed tissues and help prevent infection.  These same actions make it useful in stomach ulceration and especially in cough syrups for upper respiratory infections…. In traditional medicinal herbalism, pine bark or resin has been used as a stimulant, laxative, expectorant, diuretic, pectoral, vermifuge, detergent, balsamic and vulnerary.  Indigenous practice has used it frequently for colds and flus, sore throats, stubborn wounds, sores or ulcers, inflammations and rheumatism.  It was one of the most important herbal medicines for the Menominee Indians of North America.

Peterson Field Guides Eastern and Central Medicinal Plants tells us pine

Shortleaf Pine:  American Indians used the inner bark end tea to induce vomiting called tea of buds once used as a worm experiment pitched he used as a laxative for tuberculosis also for kidney elements causing backaches.

Longleaf pine: turpentine derived from sap formally used for colic’ chronic diarrhea, worms, to arrest bleeding from tooth sockets. Rubefacient. Folk remedy from abdominal tumors.

White pine: used extensively by American Indians. Pitch poultice to draw out boils abscesses also for rheumatism broken bones cuts bruises sores felons and inflammations. Twig tea usd for kidney an lung ailments; emetic.  Bark and or leaf tea used for colds coughs gripe sore throats lung ailments, poultice for headaches backaches, etc. Inner bark formerly used in cough syrups.

Botany In a Day states:

Medicinally, the Pines are quite resinous and aromatic; the tea is useful as an expectorant but can irritate the kidneys. It is reported that the needles of some Pines cause abortion in cattle, so caution is advised here. Externally, the resin has a disinfectant quality, like Pinesol. The bark of some species contains powerful antioxidants.

The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine tells us:

Pine shoots indications in usage, approved by Commission E: blood pressure problems, common cold, cough/bronchitis, fevers and colds, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, neuralgia's, tendency to infection. Pine shoots are used internally for catarrh, conditions of the upper and lower respiratory tract.  Externally it is used for mild muscular pain and neuralgia, coughs, an acute bronchial diseases and topically for nasal congestion hoarseness. Pine oil, approved by Commission E: common cold, coughs/bronchitis, fevers and colds, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, neuralgias, rheumatism, tendency to infection. The essential oil is used internally and externally for congestive diseases of the upper lower respiratory tract. Externally it is used for rheumatic and neuralgic ailments. Turpentine oil purified, approved by Commission E: cough bronchitis, inflammation the mouth and pharynx, rheumatism. Purified turpentine oil is used internally and externally for chronic diseases of the bronchi with profuse secretions it is used externally for rheumatic and neuralgic ailments. Unproven uses: folk medicine use includes bladder catarrh, gallstones, and phosphorus poisoning.

Author: Judson Carroll.  Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His weekly articles may be read at http://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/

His weekly podcast may be heard at: www.spreaker.com/show/southern-appalachian-herbs

He offers free, weekly herb classes: https://rumble.com/c/c-618325

His New Book is Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People

You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books

His other works include:

Look Up: The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/06/paypal-safer-easier-way-to-pay-online.html

The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/05/announcing-new-book-herbs-and-weeds-of.html


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
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Very comprehensive post.  Wow!  Tons of info.  However he forgot one pine tree:

Pinus edulis Engelm.
Colorado Pinyon Pine, Colorado Pinyon, Pinyon Pine, Pinyon, Two-needle Pine, Two-needle Pinyon, Two-leaf Pinyon, Nut Pine, Pino Dulce

We've been gathering the nuts from this tree for my entire life; 60 years.  I remember doing this stuff since I was a toddler.  Great stuff.  Now, as I have gotten older and wiser, I have turned to this tree for it's marvelous healing properties.  I make teas with the spring shoots; massive vitamin C.  The resin I use on wounds, both for myself and our pets.  I also use the resin for skin cancer and blemishes of all sorts from brown spots to zits...argh.  It seems to work on all this stuff.  If you pick a ball of resin that is not completely dry and chew it, it turns into chewing gum.  It is pretty bitter, but no big deal if you like bitter, and you get all the medicinal benefits.
Sure, he can talk to fish, but don't ask him what they say. You're better off reading a tiny ad:
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