PINE, Pinus spp.

There is nothing like tromping through a pine scented forest with the bed of pine needles beneath your feet. The only thing better is the smell of pine and sage that hang heavy in the air after a rain.

We don’t think of a pine tree being an herb to help give us medicine to make us healthy and strong. However, some Native American tribes got much of their food and medicine from pine trees. Some tribes would make long treks for weeks to get to the pinion forests to get their supply of pine nuts. Besides gathering the pine nuts, they would also gather some inner bark for a food. They gathered the pitch, or sap, for medicine and making arrows. They gathered some tips of new boughs and tender new needles to make medicines and a good tasting tea.

Some tribes of Native Americans would chew pine needles to help get rid of syphilis and other diseases. They would chew the pitch, or resin (gum), for sore throats. They also used the pitch, or resin, to heal cuts and bruises and to make liniments for sore muscles and different stings and bites.

A lady told me how good pine gum is for a poultice to draw out splinters and slivers. Seems that when she was a young lady, she was running down a mountain trail. The trail was steep. She ran so fast she couldn’t make a turn and run into an old dead branch that was sticking out. This sharp old stick stuck into her leg just below the knee. She pulled most of the stick out, except one part that broke off and she couldn’t get that out of her leg. She hobbled back home in much pain. Her mother tried to get the splinter out, but couldn’t. He mother sent the boys out to get some pitch from a pine tree. The boys found out an old pinion pine tree that had a couple of big globs of pinch on it. Her mother warms the pitch up and molded it into the wound over the sliver. After sometimes, when the pitch was set up, the mother carefully removed the pitch and the sliver was sticking to it. Then she made a salve with pitch and other herbs. The salve drew more junk out of the wound as it healed.

There are hundreds of different species of pine or conifer trees. They grow from shrub size to more than 200 feet tall. Most of the different types of woods are used for construction. However, the evergreen family has many medicinal uses.

After Columbus made his first trip to America, many other ships soon made long ocean voyages. On these long voyages, many sailors were deprived of fruits and vegetables. Many sailors died of scurvy because they lacked vitamin C. had they known, they could have taken some pine boughs along and made tea and everyone would have had plenty of vitamin C, with no scurvy and fewer colds.

Some winter survival camps teach how to take the young tips off pine boughs, chop them finely and make a tea. This tea is high in vitamin C. One instructor said that there is no excuse for anyone to have a cold who has access to a pine tree.
Even today, the pine tree is used in many ways. They make it into a cough syrup and have been for generations. They made one such syrup with bark, twigs and pitch of a pine tree, and added wild cherry bark, a sassafras bark and spikednard root. They said that it removed morbid mucous secretions.

The pine is used to make furniture polish, disinfectant soap for the hair and a pine oil soap to scrub the floor. Many people swear by D.M.S.O., which is made from the pine tree.

When you think of the wood, the turpentine, salves, perfumes and lotions, the pine is a very important tree.

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