Many people call this “tea”, but tea is an unrelated, specific kind of plant, just like coffee is a unique beverage. We could just as easily call this “Pine Needle Coffee” but again, pine is “pine”, not tea, and not coffee. When you steep pine you get an infusion or a drink.
What does the Pine Needle Drink taste like?
To me, this drink tastes like a cross between aspirin and lemon.
How to Prepare Pine Needle Infusion
Legal Stuff: Do not copy the methods shown here unless you can verify it is safe.
VIDEO: How to Make Pine Needle Tea, Recipe
One way to Prepare
Chop needles into smaller pieces. Bruise or smash the needles to let some of the essential oils out when the hot water hits it.
Benefits Confirmed by Scientific Studies
[Image from http://pann.nate.com/b202144088.]
Pine needles are high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants. Water extracts from pine needles protect DNA from damage, according to one study. The study made the bold claim that pine needle extract “possesses a spectrum of antioxidant and DNA-protective properties common to cancer chemopreventive agents.”
Source: 2009 study from the College of Natural Science in South Korea. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19500637
Pine needle oil slows down the growth of liver cancer and promotes the death of the cancer cells.
Source: 2008 study from Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, China. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19112901
Pine oil reduced cholesterol, normalized blood pressure, and decreased surplus bodyweight.
Source: 2006 Russian article by Vopr Pitan. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16739609
Pine contains resveratrol, known as an anti-aging compound. Other plant sources of resveratrol include grapes, peanuts, and Japanese knotweed.
Source: Sheng Wu Gong Cheng Xue Bao. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19256329
Exhibits antibacterial and antifungal properties due to pinosylvin, a constituent of pine, even more powerful than resveratrol. Pine has resveratrol and pinosylvin? Seems too good to be true, but I’ll take it.
Source: 2005, College of Pharmacy, Ewha Womans University, South Korea. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15752644
Do not rely on this page to keep you safe. Do your own research before consuming any plant. I also recommend that you: do not drink soda and do not eat fast-food cheeseburgers. Hey, if I have to post a legal disclaimer, the fast food restaurants should, too!
In cattle, some varieties of pine needles caused abortions and death. People are different from cows, so I’m not sure if this applies to humans. The poison is Isocupressic acid, which is made in greater quantity in the rumen of cattles after they chew the needles. People are not cows and don’t have a rumen. We have a different kind of digestion so I would guess the level of poison would be lower in humans. This applies to a small percentage of all pine tree species. There are plenty of pine tree species that have no reported ill effects.
To be safe, the following pine varieties should be avoided until further study could be done.
Pinus ponderosa / Ponderosa pine aka Western Yellow pine, Blackjack pine- Reported to cause abortions in cattle.
“Ponderosa pine needles and branches may cause abortions and stillbirths in pregnant cows browsing them…” [Source: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Environment/CulRes/conifers.htm]
Pinus contorta / Lodgepole pine – Contains Isocupressic acid.
Pinus taeda / Loblolly pine aka Bull pine, Rosemary pine, Oldfield pine – Needles used for bedding were “reported” to be lethal to cattle that ate them. Reported by who? The PDF below does not say and I have not found any more evidence of this online. I drank from this tree several times now and I’m still alive.
As shown in the video toward the top of this page, I made a very strong pine needle drink from a Loblolly tree. After I finished drinking it, for the next couple days I had a few moments where I felt a “sinking spell”, where I questioned if I was going to lose consciousness for a split second. Flu was in our house at the time. My son was sick with flu and I took him to the doctor’s office, so my immune system might have been fighting the flu. I never developed any other flu symptoms, so perhaps the pine needle drink helped protect me or maybe it caused the drop in energy in my brain, or maybe it was completely unrelated. However, the flu is gone from our house, I have not had any more sinking spells, and I never did get flu. (I also did not get the vaccine.) I have since made more pine drinks from Loblolly and other pine tree species and still feel good with no more “sinking spells”.
Pinus taxaceae / Yew Pine – Reported to kill cattle. Source: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/31882/t/Pine-Needle-tea-brief-phototutorial.html
Pinus jeffreyi / Jeffrey Pine – Contains Isocupressic acid. Source: ?
Pine trees in video
I think one variety of pine that I found growing here in Arkansas is Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). [ Identification resource: http://www.nearctica.com/trees/conifer/pinus/Pechin.htm ] But now I better make sure about the other pine trees I found, since there are several pine varieties with possible safety problems.
Isocupressic acid (C20H32O3) blocks progesterone production in cows, which means it blocks sex hormones. Isocupressic acid may not be all bad, though. Since it is an antiprogesterone, like Mifepristone (C29H35NO2), it might have some of its qualities. Mifepristone, in addition to being an “abortion pill” also inhibits growth of meningioma tumor cells and treats Cushing’s syndrome.
Different varieties of pine trees (Pinus) were tested by the USDA. Here are the trees in order of the percent Isocupressic acid. The higher the number, the more toxic it could be.
|Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa)||OR, AZ, CA, UT, CO, WY||0.42 ~ 1.35|
|Pinus contorta (Lodgepole)||OR, ID, CO, UT, BC, AR||0.00 ~ 0.66|
|Pinus jeffreyi||CA||0.04 ~ 0.54|
|Pinus arizonica||CA, AZ||0.00 ~ 0.49|
|Pinus edulis||AZ, CO, NM, UT||0.00 ~ 0.45|
|Pinus monophylla||NV||0.00 ~ 0.32|
Ponderosa had the highest level.
Turpentine is Distilled from Pine Trees
What is turpentine? It’s a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin obtained from trees, mainly pine trees. It can be used as an organic solvent. That sounds like scary stuff to drink, but to my surprise, turpentine has also been used in medicine. People used to drink it in something called Wizard’s Oil. Source: Wikipedia.
Since turpentine is an organic solvent, would it help to dissolve accumulations in blood vessels? I do not know the answer.
Boiling Pine Needles
Steeping without boiling will not kill pathogens that might be present and might not remove toxins found in some varieties of pine. Boiling is a good way to sterilize the needles. Boiling might also help break down Isocupressic acid, which is the toxin present in some of the pine varieties, especially Ponderosa.
Does boiling break down Isocupressic acid?
A study was done on cattle that relates to this question. The variety of pine, Ponderosa, has been shown to have negative health effects on cattle. But when cattle were fed *pelletized* Ponderosa pine needles, the negative effects of pine needles decreased. The difference was feeding cattle whole needles versus pellets. Sounds confusing at first, but when pine needles were turned into pellets, the needles were treated with heat and pressure. Perhaps cooking the needles removes the toxic effect of some varieties of pine needles.
If you boil pine tree needles, do you make turpentine? I don’t think so, but please tell me if you know. Here is why I think turpentine is not created by boiling. From my reading, it appears turpentine is already contained in the tree, it’s wood, bark, and needles. However, the turpentine is not pure, but mixed with pine oil. Turpentine manufacturers distill the resin from pine trees to get pure turpentine. They are not making turpentine by altering the chemical structure of the molecules, but merely purifying the turpentine by removing the other ingredients in the resin. I believe this has misled some people to believe that turpentine is made by boiling pine, but in reality the turpentine is always there, just not in a pure form since it is mixed with pine oil.
It’s similar to distilling salt water. Salt water contains mostly water but also salt, making it unfit to drink. If you distill salt water, you’re left with pure water which you can drink and pure salt left over. You’re not making new molecules of water, but rather you are purifying it. Distilling pine resin is similar, leaving you with pure turpentine.
So, if you consume a pine needle drink, you are getting the oils and turpentine together, regardless of how you prepare it. If you have evidence that disputes this, please leave a response at the bottom of this post.
Does boiling pine needles reduce the Vitamin C content?
Wikipedia says that Vitamin C may not be destroyed by boiling like once thought, but might be leached into the cooking water instead. This is not an issue for the pine needle decoction, since the liquid is consumed and probably most of the Vitamin C with it. Boiling should preserve the Vitamin C content in the pine drink.
WolframAlpha says that the boiling point of Vitamin C is 553 °C, much higher than the boiling point of water, which is 100°C. This makes sense that Vitamin C is not boiled off into the air when it is being cooked at the relatively low 100°C, the temperature of boiling water. Instead, the Vitamin C is dissolved into the cooking water. If you drink the cooking water, you’re probably getting most of the Vitamin C. This is great news for boiling pine needles!
Juicing Pine Needles
Some day I would like to try juicing pine needles. I think my current juicer is not well-suited for this kind of material. I think pine needles need more of a pressing action.
… suggested from lab animal studies. Would this be good for men that suffer from too much estrogen?
I plan to use more of this free resource growing all around me. I will respectfully make use of pine trees and plant more of those pine varieties that are more desirable.