Posts Tagged ‘Native American Cure’

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.”


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.

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