The scent of pine is often tends to brings up the holidays and evoke pleasant memories. The fresh, uplifting scent can instantly bring us back to our childhood and promote feelings of relaxation. The Scotch pine tree (also known as Scots pine), is commonly used as a Christmas tree and can be found in many places around the world. It also happens to be the national tree of Scotland. While this popular, unassuming evergreen may not seem very important, it actually has a wide range of uses. The trick is knowing which parts of the tree can be beneficial, as well as the ways of properly using it.
History of the Scotch pine tree
The Scotch pine tree is native to Europe and can grow to a height of 130 feet. Most mature Scotch pine trees grow to a height of approximately 60 feet and can live for 150-300 years. The oldest known Scotch pine is over 760 years old! The needles are 1-4 inches long and are shed every three years. This particular pine is extremely hardy and can grow in almost any type of poor soil, including heavy clay and areas prone to drought. The Scotch pine needs almost no care after planting.1
While the Scotch pine is commonly a Christmas tree, it also gives pitch, tar, wood and turpentine. Native Americans would chew pine needles to ward off scurvy, and mattresses would have needles in them to ward off lice. Many used the bark to treat respiratory problems, headaches, infections, inflammation, sores and coughs. Nowadays, people continue to use this tree as a natural remedy for many different ailments.
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Aside from its medicinal properties, the Scotch pine tree has a wide variety of uses. Natural dying processes use the needles, which produce a tan or green color. The cones produce a lovely reddish yellow color. The turpentine derived from the resin is part of a varnish, and the rosin (left behind once the turpentine is removed) is part of sealing wax. Waterproofing uses the pitch to protect surfaces and preserve wood, while fiber obtained from the inner bark makes ropes. The roots are a good candle substitute due to their ability to burn well, and the needles can fill pillows, cushions, or serve as a packing material. 2
Health benefits of the Scotch pine tree
Pine trees are often thought of as ‘decorative’, and their health benefits are often overlooked. Most pine trees actually offer a wide variety of beneficial properties, and the Scotch pine is no exception. This particular tree is famous for its antiseptic properties and its ability to support the respiratory system. Scotch pine essential oil comes from steam-distilled needles, and offers a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
People know the turpentine derived from the resin for its antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, diuretic, expectorant, vermifuge and rubefacient properties. It can help treat kidney and bladder disorders, and can also help relieve respiratory symptoms. People often use it in the form of inhalers or topical applications. The needles are known for their antiseptic, diuretic and expectorant properties. They can be drank in the form of a tea, used in an inhaler or added to a warm bath.
Support the respiratory system
Some use tea made from the needles of Scotch pine to treat respiratory conditions. It can help soothe inflammation of the respiratory tract, which can help relieve the pain of sore throats, ease coughing, and can even reduce the symptoms of asthma. Due to its expectorant properties, it can help to reduce excess mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tract and expel harmful bacteria.
Treat minor wounds
Pine resin is incredibly antiseptic, and releases from the tree when the tree needs to heal from physical wounds. It also provides a barrier against bacterial and fungal infections. Just as pine resin can help the tree heal, it can help treat minor human wounds.
To create an easy, pine resin salve, all you need is:
- 1/4 cup Scotch pine resin
- 1/2 cup base oil (such as olive, almond, jojoba, fractionated coconut, etc)
- 1/2 oz beeswax
Add the resin to the oil in a double boiler, strain the mixture, and then return to the double boiler and add in the beeswax until melted. Pour the mixture into small tins for easy use! You can use this salve on minor scrapes, cuts, bruises, bites and burns. 3
Scotch pine essential oil
Scotch pine essential oil is known for its antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, bactericidal, decongestant, deodorant, diuretic, expectorant and insecticidal properties.
People often use the oil as an analgesic to reduce muscle, joint, and headache pain. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce swelling. Some use it to remove toxins from the body, improve respiratory function, treat a variety of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, and reduce stress. Scotch pine essential oil can also help people support their immune system function, disinfect surfaces, and freshen air.
The essential oil works both topically and aromatically depending on your particular needs. Internal use of the oil is not safe. Try diffusing it throughout your home, mixing with a carrier oil and using topically, or adding a few drops to your bath.
The Scotch pine tree is so much more than just a decorative tree. Its needles, bark, resin and other parts can be used in a variety of practical applications, from natural dying to rope making to supporting the respiratory system. The essential oil derived from the needles offers an even wider range of therapeutic benefits, and can be beneficial by simply diffusing it throughout your home. Whether you’re looking for a natural way to ease a cough or prevent infection in a minor wound, look no further than the popular Scotch pine.
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