Pine needles can be foraged anytime of year because they do not lose their leaves in the winter months, unlike deciduous trees such as maples.
Pine needles have been found to be anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and high in antioxidants. They are high in vitamins A and C, making them a great for warding off colds and flus in the winter months or in the past helped to prevent scurvy. It has mild expectorant properties for coughs and relieving chest congestion. Good for sore throats too. Pine needles have been used as a topical treatment for headaches, stiff joints and arthritis. It has a mild warming effect and is great paired with peppermint and wintergreen or spearmint to use on sore muscles.
When foraging for pine needles it is important to make sure you have the right species. Avoid any needles from cypress or yew, as they can be poisonous. Plant identification is not to be taken lightly, so if you are unsure then do not ingest or use the plant - always ask for help from a professional if you are unsure. Pine, fir, hemlock and spruce are all edible.
A special note concerning essential oils and medicinal plants:
*If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have health conditions, consult with a health provider before using essential oils or any medicinal herbs and plants.
Special notes concerning wild foraging:
*Make sure to properly identify the plant you are foraging. There are many look a like species that can be poisonous or pose a threat to your health. If you aren’t sure, don’t risk it. Ask for professional help if needed.
- Always leave rare species alone and only take what you need. Don’t take too much from one area or one plant, always make sure to spread out. A rule of thumb is to only take a few leaves from one branch, for example. Never strip plants of all their leaves, fruits or seeds, as they depend on them to survive.
*Do not pick the roots unless the plant is very plentiful and you plan to consume what you pick. Plants depend on their roots to survive.
*Pick from uncontaminated areas. Make sure you aren’t picking near environmental pollutants such as roadsides where cars continually drive. Also avoiding agricultural land, industrial estates, dog-walking paths and certain water sources. Wash what you forage before using or ingesting.
Pine Needle Tea:
Pine needles are full of vitamins a + C, in fact they have more vitamin c than orange juice, making this a great tea for the winter months when cold and flu season is around.
Recipe: Add 1 - 2 tbsp pine needles (washed and cut into small pieces) to a tea pot. pour a cup of boiling water over and let steep for 5 minutes. enjoy on its own or add a splash of lemon + honey for a refreshing twist.
Pine Needle Floor Cleaner:
Pine needles are antibacterial, making them a great addition to your cleaning cupboard.
Recipe: fill a mason jar about 1/4 full with pine needles. Fill with white vinegar and secure the lid. Give it a shake and then leave it to infuse in a dark cupboard for about 2-6 weeks. give it a shake every 2-3 days. Strain your vinegar into a clean bottle and then add 2 tbsp to your mop bucket. Fill with hot water and voila - piney fresh floor cleaner! you can also add vinegar to a spray bottle with little bit of water and alcohol (optional) for a cheap + easy surface cleaner.
Pine Needle Salve:
Pine needles are antimicrobial, anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory - perfect for a natural, healing salve to ease arthritis, stiff joints or headaches.
-7 oz (198g) pine infused oil (olive, grapeseed, apricot or sunflower)
-0.5 oz (14g) Candelilla Wax (or 1 oz (28g) beeswax)
-30 drops peppermint, 24 drops lavender, 8 drops frankincense, & 8 drops chammomile essential oil
-4-6 drops vitamin e (optional)
Combine the oil and wax in a heat proof mason jar. Place jar in a pan with 1-2 inches of water. Gently bring the temperature to med-low heat and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutess before adding the essential oils and vitamin e. Pour into tins or jars carefully.
Makes 4-5 two ounce tins (60ml) or about 2 four ounce tins (120ml).
Pine Needle Cooking Oil:
Pine needles add a beautiful fragrance to any cooking oil.
Recipe: Fill a mason jar about 1/4 full with pine needles. Fill with an oil of choice. We recommend olive oil or avocado oil. Cover and leave in a dark place for 2-6 weeks. Give it a shake every 3 days or so. Strain and put oil into a clean jar or bottle. Use within 6 weeks in salad dressings or anywhere that you need oil to cook with. You can also use your oil infusion for making a healing herbal salve (recipe above).