This homemade pine needle extract captures the flavor and pine benefits to enhance your well-being. Packed in a small dropper bottle, pine needle tincture is a herbal powerhouse that one wants to explore.
What is pine needle extract?
Extract from pine, also called a tincture, is made by soaking pine bristles in alcohol for several weeks. A slow maceration enables pine bristles to relieve their active substances into a solvent. A few drops of tincture contain a potent concentrate with long shelf life.
What are pine needles?
Historical reports indicate that pine bristles have a long history of uses that dates back to the 16 century.. They were used by European explorers who reached North America and suffered from an illness known as scurvy, a common illness among sailors.
At that point in history, they acquired a concoction from the Iroquois composed of needles and pine bark of an evergreen conifer identified as "Annedda". They gave this tree the moniker of "tree of life" or "Arbre de vie" due to its remarkable curative powers.
Which pine needles to use for the extract?
More than 46 pine species of the genus Pinaceae are edible and easy to find all year long. When I go forage them, I search for places away from roads and pollution.
One of the most reliable ways to recognize pine trees is to examine their needles. These needles can be rolled between your fingers and are not flat. Furthermore, they appear in bundles of 2-5, referred to as fascicles, and often have a potent odor.
When foraging, search for a local species and research them to avoid harvesting any toxic yew.
Also, some studies have claimed the potential dangers of Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta). These might cause abortion when eaten by pregnant cattle, but it's unclear whether it affects humans. Better to avoid it if you are pregnant.
White pine needles.
One of North America's most common species is the Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus). This species can be identified by its five needles per bundle and its long, slender cones that hang from the branches. The bright green needles can be up to 10 inches long. It is native to the eastern parts of the United States.
Select 40% alcohol = 80-proof ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or grain spirit.
Alternatively, use vodka, rum, or brandy.
The ratio for dry herbs is 1:5 (one weight part of the needles and five weight parts of alcohol).
The ratio for fresh herbs is 1:2.
How to make white pine needle extract?
First step: Gather pine needles.
Gather ½ cup of fresh pine bristles.
Use a knife or food processor to chop them to increase the surface area for the maceration.
Second step - Pour over alcohol.
Place them in a sterilized jar and pour over the alcohol of your choice so all needles are fully submerged in alcohol.
Third step - Let it infuse.
I like to use this glass jar with a plastic lid, but if you don't have one, just use parchment paper in between to avoid any corrosion.
Cover the jar and place it in a cool, easily accessible place. You will need to shake it from time to time to break the cell walls of the herb and allow infusion.
Check if the needles are entirely covered with alcohol, as the alcohol can evaporate. The entire extraction process last 4 weeks.
Fourth step - Strain it.
Use a strainer with a muslin cloth to strain the herbal material and poor just pure extract vodka into a sterilized jar.
Fifth step - Label it.
Label the extract and store it in a dark bottle with a dropper in a cold place. It can last up to 5 years.
How to take the extract?
It is advised to take 30 drops (1 dropper ful) twice a day. Half of the dose (15 drops) is for kids 5 to 12. Consult with your care provider or a certified herbalist before using. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Benefits of pine needle extract
This extract contains vitamins, antioxidants, and terpene (monoterpene, diterpenes, sesquiterpene) constituents responsible for antibacterial, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activities. Pine is an ancient remedy used across the globe by various cultures for millennia. Commonly taken to address respiratory ailments, boost immunity, eradicate parasites, and indigestion, postpartum tonic, and so much more.
Source of Vitamin C.
Pine bristles are known for their high content of Vitamin C. However, the content of ascorbic acid varies depending on the species and age of the needles.
While the young needles contain at least vitamin C, the two years old needles have almost twice as much (3.5 times more than orange) (1).
High in Vitamin A.
Pine needle tea is also packed with Vitamin A responsible for the pigments in the retina and is important for healthy vision.
They contain shikimic acid, the main component of Tamiflu. This same acid was also found in star anise, but pine are easier to find in nature. Shikimic acid eases seasonal influenza due to its antiviral characteristics.
In this study published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry, researchers found that various pine needles of the Pinus morrisonicola species have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.
Pinus taiwanensis on the other hand, contain flavonoids, natural antioxidants with anti-aging properties that are responsible for its effect on aging.
They are rich in polyphenol, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases with potentially fatal health conditions.
It also helps to protect the body from free radical damage and lowers the risk of blood clotting.
How Can I Incorporate Pine Needles Into My Routine?
- Make a pine needle tea: Boil 1-2 handfuls of fresh needles in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes, strain, and enjoy!
- Add them to your bath: Create an aromatic, detoxifying bath by adding a handful to your running bathwater.
- Macerate them in the oil that can be used further in body butter or sugar scrub to enhance your skin.
- Use as a natural air freshener: Place a small bowl of fresh or dried needles around your home to naturally freshen the air.
- Soothe skin with homemade facial steam: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add 3-4 tablespoons of fresh or dried pine needles. Let steep for 10 minutes, place the pot on a heat-safe surface, and lean over it with a towel draped over your head for 5-10 minutes for an invigorating facial steam.
- Create an herbal smudge stick: Gather dry needles and tie them together with twine to create an herbal smudge stick - perfect for cleansing spaces and protecting against negative energy!
To obtain the most antioxidant and vitamin C, use fresh or freshly dried needles with a vivid green hue and pleasant evergreen aroma. Freeze any leftover to maintain their antioxidants.