encyclopedia

Pine

Scientific Names:
Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots or Norway pine), P. umilio (dwarf pine) and other Pinus spp. [Fam. Pinaceae]

Forms:
Tea or oil extracts of the needles, branch tips, and shoots of pine species; pine bark OPC extracts.

Traditional Usage:
– Allergies (bark OPCs)

– Bone and Joint Pain

– Bronchitis (needle and twig essential oil)

– Colds (needle and twig essential oil)

– Coughs (needle and twig essential oil)

– Disinfectant (needle and twig essential oil)

– Eczema (bark OPCs and Pine Tar USP)

– Eyesight Disorders (bark OPCs)

– Fever (needle and twig essential oil)

– Insect Repellant (needle and twig essential oil)

– Nerve Pain (needle and twig essential oil)

– Scurvy (bark OPCs)

– Skin Disorders (bark OPCs)

– Sore Throat

– Vascular Disorders (tea and OPC bark extract)

– Vitamin C Deficiency (bark OPCs)

Overview:
Many different species of pine, Pinus spp. [Fam. Pinacea], have been used as traditional medicines in countries around the world since the earliest times. The MicMac of Canada use a tea of white pine (Pinus strobus L.) needles and twigs for treating colds. In fact, pine needle and twig tea was given to European explorers by First Nation healers to cure them of scurvy. The essential oil from pine needles of P. pinea or P. sylvestris is used as part of an inhalation treatment for chronic laryngitis in northern India. The needles of longleaf pine, P. palustris Mill. and other pine species, are used to make the over-the-counter drug, Pine Tar USP, used to treat eczema and as a rubefacient. Rubbed on the skin, pine oil preparations stimulate circulation and act as a safe and effective rubefacient that produces local vasodilation and increases blood supply to the area of application. The inner bark of pine trees is also valued medicinally for its rich content of colorless flavonoids called proanthocyanidins, powerful antioxidants that enhance collagen production and repair within the body. Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), also referred to as “vitamin P”, prevent the permeability of capillaries and blood vessels and strengthen the entire vascular system. The discoverer of vitamin C, Dr. Albert Szent-Gyφrgyi, is quoted as saying that the unknown “vitamin P” found in the pine bark given to Jacques Cartier’s men, was more powerful and more important than vitamin C for preventing the permeability of blood vessels and ultimately reversing the effects of scurvy. Scurvy is characterized by bleeding and loose gums leading to loss of teeth and eventually the whole vascular system giving out. Szent-Gyφrgyi acknowledged that Prof. Jack Masquelier of France had found the elusive “vitamin P” he had looked for in pine bark with his grapeseed OPC discovery.

Active Ingredients:
Cis-Abienol, Trans-Abienol, Abietic-Acid, Amino-Acids, Anticopalic-Acid, Chrysin, Coniferin, Coniferyl-Alcohol, Cryptostrobin, Dehydroabietic-Acid, Elliotic-Acid, Fat, Isopimaric-Acid, Laevopimaric-Acid, Leucocyanidin, Manoyoxide, 3-Beta-Methoxy-14-Serraten-21-ON, Mucilage, Neoabietinic-Acid, Nucleic-Acids, Palustric-Acid, Pimaric-Acid, Pinocembrin, Pinocembrin, Pinostrobin, Pinosylvin-Monomethyl-Ester, Sandaracopimaric-Acid, Strobal, Strobic-Acid, Strobinic-Acid, Strobol, Strobopinin, Tectochrysin.

Suggested Amount:
The dosage for pine oil preparations taken for internal use is one teaspoon daily. For clearing sinuses and respiratory passages through inhalation: Add several drops to hot water and inhale. External Dosage: Use 0.025 grams per liter of water or rub several drops, diluted in a carrier oil or cream base, on affected area. The recommended dosage for Masquelier’s OPC extracts from either grape seed or pine bark (or combinations) is 300 mg daily for 10 to 14 days (especially for overcoming serious vascular disease and allergies), then 100 mg daily thereafter. Long-term daily dosages range from 100mg/day (venous-lymphatic insufficiency) to 300mg/day (eye stress from use of video display terminal) in studies reporting significant results.

Drug Interactions:
None Known

Contraindications:
Pine oil is contraindicated in cases of: bronchial asthma, whooping cough or severe inflammation of the breathing passages, acute skin disease, an infectious disease, heart problems, or abnormally tense muscles. Pine oil is also contraindicated during pregnancy.

Side Effects:
Pine oil may cause breathing problems as well as skin and mucous membrane irritation. Overuse can lead to the poisoning of the brain and kidneys. Clinical features of accidental pine oil ingestion include depressed mentation, CNS depression, respiratory failure, and GI dysfunction. The treatment is supportive, and the ingestions are rarely fatal, although one fatality has been reported in the case of an elderly woman with dementia who ingested a household cleaning solution made with pine oil.

References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications, 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464. Pp. 307-310.

Petrassi C, Mastromarino A, Spartera C. 2000. PYCNOGENOL in chronic venous insufficiency. Phytomedicine. 2000 Oct; 7(5): 383-8.

Rihn B, Saliou C, Bottin MC, Keith G, Packer L. 2001. From ancient remedies to modern therapeutics: pine bark uses in skin disorders revisited. Phytother Res. 2001 Feb; 15(1): 76-8.

Saliou C, Rimbach G, Moini H, McLaughlin L, Hosseini S, Lee J, Watson RR, Packer L.

2001. Solar ultraviolet-induced erythema in human skin and nuclear factor-kappa-B-dependent gene expression in keratinocytes are modulated by a French maritime pine bark extract. Free Radic Biol Med. 2001 Jan 15; 30(2): 154-60.

Welker JA, Zaloga GP. 1999. Pine oil ingestion: a common cause of poisoning. Chest. 1999 Dec; 116(6): 1822-6.