The medicinal and therapeutic benefits of Evergreens
Pine: Pinus strobus, White Pine
Needles/ leaves, Bark, Cones/ seeds, Pollen
Pine needles re loaded with vitamins A & C
The story of French explorer, Jacques Cartier (cir 1535), who explored the new world for France in the early 16th century was said to have been forced to winter over in the Great Lakes/ Saint Lawrence seaway when his ships were frozen in winter ice. His crew starving and dying of scurvy were about to be lost to a foot note in history when the indigenous peoples of the America’s came to his aid. the Native Americans showed him how to boil the leaves of the white pine tree to make a tea. this tea is loaded with vitamins A & C. This survival tea of pine needles saved their trip and their lives.
Pine needle tea:
Simple as boiling chopped pine needles in a pot/kettle of hot water. It will taste slightly citrusy. Sweeten to taste with honey.
The inner cambium layer of the bark is a rich source the important anti-oxidant, “Picnogynol’, the same substance that is in Grape Seed extract. Tinctured White pine bark is a natural Rx for treating ADD/ ADHD. (with Omega 3 EFA).
Pine bark is also edible. In lean times, the inner layer of pine bark is scraped, dried and ground into flour to supplement wheat flour it can be and has been used as animal fodder in winter.
Pine Resin/ Sap:
Can be used as an waterproof adhesive and waterproofing / repairing seams on clothing or a tent.
Pine resin is highly anti-microbial. It may also be used as waterproof wound covering (small cuts, abrasions, blisters).
Pine tar has a long history of being a wood preservative (ships, boats), also as a coating on hemp and manila ropes used outdoors or at sea.
My blend of pine tar and Calendula oil is a very effective leather dressing. I call it “Horn & Hoof”. I use this blend as a protective and anti-septic coating on the horns and hooves on my livestock (Goats). It’s a very antiseptic preservative and softening agent on my goats hooves, especially after trimming.
To make Horn & Hoof, I blend infused Calendula oil with pine tar. It’s also wonderful as a leather dressing / waterproofing for my boots or leather sheaths for knives and gun holsters.
Juniper: Common, Juniper, Dwarf Juniper, Ground Juniper
Used in small doses in a medicinal tea, Juniper is an effective diuretic, which speeds filtration of the kidneys. It also reduces and prevents kidney stones. Word of caution here in that too high a dose of juniper can cause over stimulation of the kidneys and cause some inflammation (nephritis).
Juniper as tea or tincture helps to lower blood pressure. Used for these purposes, Juniper is best used when tinctured/ extracted with grain alcohol (Brandy) because it is easier to control the dosage. Specific herbal preparations made with Juniper are used by herbalists to internally and topically for the treatment of rheumatism and gout.
Juniper berries are a wonderful flavoring and preservative for wild game meats. (I love to use juniper berries when preparing pork loin or venison loins).
Another caution is juniper is not to be used by diabetics as it tends to spike blood glucose levels
Cedar : Juniperus virginicus, Red Cedar
Parts used: Berries, needles/ leaves, cones
According to master herbalist, John Christopher, Cedar berries can be used to control specifically type 2 diabetes. Cedar berries used as a tincture with other herbs, stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. The berries also can be used to control sugar/ glucose spikes after meals in diabetic patients.
This is to be used with caution as cedar berries are rich in Thujone oil which in some people may cause stomach irritability and upset with gas, nausea and vomiting.
Not recommended when pregnant
Cedar berries can be used topically to treat Eczema, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis by making a topical balm. This is done by covering the berries in a slow cooker (crock pot) with Lard, (Crisco or Olive oil can be substituted) Simmer on low for 24 hours. Strain the oil off and decant in a wide mouth jar and keep refrigerated. This soothing, cooling balm is applied directly to the effected arthritic areas or break outs of eczema, psoriasis.
Fir Tree: Balsam Fir, Canadian Balsam
Parts used: Bark, Resin, Needles
Medicinal remedies using fir trees have a long history of healing since medieval times (Friars Balsam). Parts of the fir tree can still be used as an astringent, pain relief, to reduce fevers and as an anti-microbial antiseptic. Teas and aromatic diffusers can be helpful to treat the lungs and respiratory issues, including colds, coughs, asthma.
Herbal preparations made with Fir sap/ resin can be made into a topical wound covering. It can be used to treat headaches, toothaches, abscesses, and to reduce fevers.
Recipe for Balsam Syrup:
2 cups distilled water
approx. 8 ounces of fir needles or tips of branch with new twig shoots
1 cup of raw honey
Make a decoction by slowly bringing to a boil, the twigs and needles in the distilled water. Let simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.
Strain off the liquid ‘Tea”
Add the raw honey and blend/ mix thoroughly
Bottled and stored in refrigerator, it will last for months.
Dose: 1 TBS before meals. May dilute with warm water.