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Posts Tagged ‘1918 Flu’

I originally posted this two years ago, to spread the word about a simple preventive for COVID. At the time, I didn’t imagine the pandemic would drag on this long. Not only has it persisted, we are now experiencing yet another resurgence. Every week I hear of a friend or relative who is suffering from COVID, some for the second time. As if that coronavirus isn’t enough, now we have the threat of Monkey Pox. I decided it was time to bring this easy remedy to people’s attention again.

Iced Pine Tea with Mint

For two years, I have been drinking pine tea daily and (knock on wood) I’ve remained healthy. Of course, I follow the usual precautions. I’m vaccinated and boosted, avoid crowds when possible, and mask-up. Perhaps I would have dodged infection even without pine tea, but I’m not willing to sacrifice myself for science by intentionally exposing myself to the virus.

Here is a modified version of my original post:

Sometime, in the long-forgotten days before COVID, I watched a webinar on herbal remedies and took notes. Four months into the lockdown, I came across this in my notebook: “During the Spanish Flu, those who ate pine needles didn’t get sick.”

What?

Why isn’t this common knowledge?

The webinar had touted the benefits of various parts of the pine tree. Pine needles contain more Vitamin C than oranges. For centuries, Native Americans have used pine to treat scurvy. During the 1918 pandemic, someone noticed that these scurvy patients didn’t get the flu.

A few years ago, at a Garden Club event, I bought a cookbook titled I Eat Weeds by Priscilla G. Bowers. One of my favorite recipes is Pine Needle Tea. You can drink it hot or iced. Its mild flavor is delicious. I take it to pot luck luncheons where it’s always a hit, but I didn’t know it could protect you from the flu.

I Googled “pine needles/Spanish flu” hoping to find more information. At the time, I didn’t find anything related to the 1918 pandemic, but I did find information on pine in regards to modern influenzas.

In addition to vitamins C and A, pine is rich in shikimic acid, an ingredient in Tamiflu. This ingredient is imported from China where it’s extracted from the star anise tree, but we grow our own source of shikimic acid right here in the US. You may have it growing in your own backyard!

I found newspaper articles from Maine and Pennsylvania which discussed how timber companies could gather pine needles from harvested trees and extract shikimic acid to supply pharmaceutical companies. A Canadian company collects discarded Christmas trees for this purpose.

I wondered, if pine can protect you from the flu, what about COVID 19? I kept digging and was surprised by the research that’s been done on the medicinal uses of pine.

There are some 80 to 90 species of pine around the world, and most are edible. In fact, other conifers are also edible, including fir, spruce, larch, cedar, and hemlock. Not the hemlock that killed Socrates. Poison hemlock is a member of the carrot family, so beware of wild carrots. Also beware of these poisonous trees: ponderosa pine, yew, and Norfolk or Australian pine. And remember, not all evergreens are conifers.

Another caution: pregnant women should not drink pine needle tea as it could cause abortion. Also, it’s possible to have an adverse reaction to pine, but I haven’t come across anyone who has.

You won’t see a Nutrition Facts chart attached to your pine tree, but besides Vitamins A and C and shikimic acid, pine contains protein, fat, phosphorus, iron, and a long list of other goodies. Oils from pine needles could potentially treat heart disease, diabetes, senile dementia, and hypertension. And the list goes on: obesity, depression, and anxiety. Pine is anti-microbial and boosts your immune system, so it’s good for colds, sore throat, and sinus and chest congestion. To relieve upper respiratory illness, you can inhale the vapor.

Pine tea is consumed around the world. Koreans have a popular pine tea called Solip-cha. Taoist priests drink pine needle tea because they believe it’ll make them live longer, and there is researched evidence that it can help slow the aging process.

But what about our current scourge? While doctors were scrambling to find treatments for COVID, all they needed to do was look out their windows. If pine worked during the flu pandemic 100 years ago and contains an ingredient used today to treat viruses, would it be effective for coronavirus? The answer is yes. To my knowledge, no studies have been done yet on pine and COVID, but there have been studies involving other coronaviruses, including SARS.

The recipe for Pine Needle Tea is very simple:

Green pine needles, cut into 3” or 4” lengths (Include some of the stems for more flavor. Some sources say to remove all the brown parts of the needles, but that’s not necessary.)

Water to cover

Sweetening to taste

Bring to a boil in a sauce pan, hold 5 minutes, and let it steep for 10. Strain and sweeten.

Just Add Water

Boiling will destroy some of the Vitamin C, but not all of it. I like to make the tea by the half-gallon and serve it iced. You may not need to sweeten it, depending on your taste. Honey will add health benefits. Warning: pine resin will stick to the pan, so use an old pan or one that’s easy to clean.

I have pine trees on my property. Whenever a storm blows branches down, I gather the twigs, cut them into useable lengths, and freeze portion amounts. Then I have a supply to last me until the next windstorm.

Enough for 2 Quarts of Iced Tea

Over the past two years, interest in pine needle tea has spiked, and more information has appeared on the internet, including where to buy it. I came across an interesting account of a Lakota grandmother who saved her family from the flu in 1918, using home remedies, including cedar tea: https://www.cdc.gov/publications/panflu/stories/cure_janis.html

I can’t guarantee that pine (or cedar) tea will protect you from or cure COVID, but when you have something that won’t hurt you, is pleasant to drink, and might help, why not try it? Brew some pine tea. You may like it.


If you haven’t checked out my books yet, click here for my Amazon page.

           

And here for Season of the Dove on Kindle Vella.

Season of the Dove

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At first, they called it a novel coronavirus, but it mutated into a real-time dystopian novel.

At the turn of the year, Covid lurked in the sidelines, waiting to take center stage. Initially only a vague specter, it materialized from the shadows to become a source of ghoulish entertainment, dominating the airwaves. Can this be a replay of 1918? Surely not in this age of medical miracles! But the pundits could not hide their dread. Their knitted brows were enough to freeze my spine. Older ladies of my acquaintance, thinking they were prime victims, quarantined themselves. It was rumored this would become everyone’s fate, but surely that couldn’t happen, could it?

1918 Flu Epidemic

On Friday the 13th, the world changed. Schools closed. People stopped going to work. Panicked hordes stripped grocery shelves clean. Of toilet paper, no less. Meetings, travel plans, even weddings and funerals were cancelled. Life, once plotted out in calendar entries, became a fogged-up windshield in a vehicle out of control, hurtling at unknown speed to a nebulous future. That’s when I realized I was living inside a dystopian novel.

Stories and movies came to mind, of catastrophic events that spelled the end of the world: wars, alien invasions, plagues decimating the world’s population. In some stories, heroes emerged to save remnants of mankind, while in others the heroes were lucky to save themselves. Dystopian stories are great entertainment, but they’re no fun for their besieged characters. And now I was a character in one!

As a writer, it’s not such a bad place to be as long as my retirement checks keep coming, the electric grid holds up, and I can get groceries every week or so. If the electricity fails and I can’t get to the store, I’d still survive, as long as my cache of last year’s hurricane supplies held out. But, darn, I’d have to write on paper instead of my computer if the power went off.

Then I found out how much I depend on technology. One day, my phone stopped working. Good, no spam calls for a few days until a technician can fix it. I still had internet. A week later, the internet went out! I nearly panicked. I was a character in a movie, surrounded by unknown perils, cut off from the outside world. How could I survive without email, Google, and Wikipedia? Fortunately, the phone company had it fixed within hours.

The first week of quarantine was unsettling. The second, I settled into the unreality of it and watched the movie play out around me. But the surreal turned bizarre when the world began to morph into my dystopian novel.

My yet-to-be-published dystopian novel takes place in the future when solar power has replaced fossil fuels, but it didn’t happen soon enough. South Florida has gone the way of Atlantis and autocrats build houses that can withstand Category 7 hurricanes. Books aren’t banned, but they’re obsolete. My heroine collects books on history and studies them to uncover lost truths. When information is stored digitally, it’s easy to rewrite history.

The federal government is weak and ineffectual and the US has been partitioned into autonomous regions, each with its own set of laws. When a killer hurricane strikes, Georgia closes its border to keep Florida refugees out. Hospitals are out of supplies and the sick and injured crowd the hallways and cover the floors. The poor are hit hardest and rich see opportunities to enrich themselves. Until the pitchforks come out…

 

My novel is a fantasy, a series of events that (I sincerely hope) won’t come true. Or will they?

Coastal communities are already dealing with sea level rise. Hurricanes are becoming more powerful. (My fellow Floridians really dread the advent of this year’s hurricane season.)

As Covid went viral in New York and New Jersey, and hordes of Yankees headed south to escape, there were rumors that Florida was setting up roadblocks to keep them, and their contagion, out. Hospitals are over capacity and undersupplied. An economic bailout has the rich corporations making out like bandits while the rest of us are being thrown crumbs.

I wrote my book long before all this became reality, and I never expected to see it happen. Each development has made me pause and reflect. Just coincidence. I’m certainly no prophet.

Then a government official gave out erroneous information and the website he alluded to was later altered to agree with what he said! Rewriting history is not a new idea. Remember 1984?

Now several states, frustrated by the failed leadership of the federal government, are forming regional coalitions to make pacts on how to keep their citizens safe while restoring normalcy.

But not all is gloom and doom. In my book, the heroes encounter good people, many of them have-nots, who share what little they can. Even some of the well-to-do show their charitable sides.

In the current pandemic, people are stepping up to contribute what they can to those in need. Mom and Pop restaurants are feeding the hungry. Ladies with sewing machines are stitching up face masks. It’s refreshing to see that compassion and service survive in in our present dystopia, as well as the fictional ones.

I’ll tell you, though, if any more elements of my book come to pass, (if the pitchforks come out!) I may just have to rewrite it. Maybe as a cozy romance? What could be the harm in that?

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