Have you ever tried pine needle tea? Pine needle tea has been around for a while, but it's recently become much more popular in the US. It tastes great, and it’s packed full of vitamins and phytochemicals that may help naturally boost your immune system.
You might be thinking, really? Pine needles? Yes, pine needles! Pine needle tea has been used as a natural remedy for the cold and flu, as well as a host of other illnesses. And these benefits aren’t just anecdotal. In fact, Tamiflu, the antiviral medicine your doctor might prescribe to treat the flu, is made from shikimic acid, a compound found in pine needles.
Pine needles have a lot of medicinal properties that most people don’t know about. The pine trees found in Eastern and Central US are a rich source of antioxidants and Vitamin A, C, and K. Pine needles from Pinus strobus species (Eastern White Pine) may also hold the key to treating and preventing diseases naturally.
Pine needle tea has been used for centuries by Native Americans and herbalists. But, people are just learning about all of the benefits of pine needle tea. This post will dive into all the research-based benefits of pine needle tea.
It’s important to note that this post does not constitute medical advice, and it does not claim that pine needle tea can treat or cure any medical conditions. However, we hope to point you to interesting research on the benefits of pine needle tea and let you decide what you think for yourself.
What is pine needle tea?
Pine needle tea is a mild herbal tea made from pine needles. In the US, pine needle tea is usually made from the Eastern White Pine tree (or Pinus strobus) but in other areas of the world, people make this tea from red pine trees.
Before you head out to find some pine needles to make this tea, be sure you know how to accurately identify the Eastern White Pine tree. There are numerous varieties of pine trees and many of them are not suitable for making tea as they can be toxic. This is one reason we recommend purchasing our white pine needle elixir or white pine needle extract.
If you feel comfortable with identifying the Eastern White Pine and want to make pine needle tea yourself, you can check out our Eastern White Pine Tea recipe. To make this tea, you will need fresh pine needles as the medicinal properties deteriorate rather quickly.
What Does Pine Needle Tea Taste Like?
If you were an imaginative child, you might have whipped up your own batch of a make-believe potion or tea made from pine needles. If this is what you imagine when you think about the taste of pine needle tea, you will be pleasantly surprised. So, what does pine needle tea actually taste like? Not like you’d think.
Pine needle tea is a caffeine-free, healthy alternative to your usual morning cup of tea or coffee. It has a distinct taste that many describe as a mild citrus flavor and some even describe as slightly minty. If you enjoy herbal teas, you will like the delicate flavor of this tea. You can also mix pine needle tea with other herbal teas to enhance the flavor.
What are the Benefits of Pine Needle Tea?
Pine needle tea is reported to have an extensive list of benefits. You may have read that it helps with everything from treating colds, to lowering cholesterol, and improving acne. But, is this simple tea really that incredible? Let’s dig into the research to find out.
Excellent Source of Vitamin C.
When most people think of Vitamin C, they think of orange juice. But pine needle tea is another excellent source of Vitamin C. In fact, Native Americans and early explorers used pine needles and bark to treat a variety of illnesses.
Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, is credited with the first documented use of pine bark extracts as a way to treat scurvy. Scurvy is a deadly disease that causes weakness, fatigue, and bleeding from the skin. It is caused by a lack of Vitamin C. Pine bark extract provided his crew with the vitamin C they needed to avoid dying from scurvy.
High in Vitamin A
Pine needle tea is also high in Vitamin A. This vitamin, also known as retinol, is responsible for the pigments in the retina and is important for healthy vision. It also has a role in the body’s immune system and helps your body maintain healthy teeth, soft tissues, skin, and bones.
Pine needles contain shikimic acid, the key ingredient used to make Tamilflu. The main source of shikimic acid is star anise, a small star-shaped fruit from China. Pine needles also contain a significant amount of the same acid. But, pine needles are more abundant and easier to find than star anise. Drinking pine needle tea may be an effective way to prevent seasonal influenza because of its antiviral properties.
When the body is attacked by foreign agents like bacteria or viruses, or it is injured, the immune system is activated. This triggers an inflammatory response. Your body sends inflammatory cells and cytokines to the area, which increases blood circulation in an effort to repair the damaged fibers or fight off the intruders. This can cause swelling and pain.
There are a lot of medications that reduce inflammation, but pine needles are abundantly available and a natural way to reduce inflammation. A study published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry found that compounds in pine needles of the Pinus morrisonicola species have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For centuries pine needle tea has been used in Eastern countries for its anti-aging effects. In the US, this is one of its lesser known potential benefits. A study on the anti-aging properties of pine needle tea from the Pinus taiwanensis species suggests that flavonoids in the tea are responsible for its effect on aging.
Pine needles contain polyphenol, a plant-based antioxidant that boosts heart health and the immune system. Polyphenol is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Polyphenol helps to protect the body from damage by free radicals and lowers the risk of blood clotting. Drinking pine needle tea regularly may provide cardiovascular benefits by reducing blood clotting and inflammation, which are both linked to heart attacks and strokes.
May Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 (Covid) Infection
The Eastern white pine may be a natural source of suramin. Suramin, developed by Bayer in 1922, was used as an anti-infective agent to treat African sleeping sickness. Today, it is being studied for its antiviral and antiparasitic properties, which could have the potential of inhibiting the covid infection. Although there is not enough research to claim it can treat or cure Covid, early research suggests that it may inhibit Covid because it interferes with the replication cycle.
Pine needles are a lesser-known superfood with anticancer properties. Although there has not been much research on pine needle tea, studies on pine needles have shown that it may be useful in preventing tumor growth and the development of cancer. One study found that pine needles from the Pinus densiflora species have antimutagenic and antitumor effects in the body and may hold potential as a method to prevent cancer.
Caution for Women who are Trying to Conceive or are Pregnant
Avoid drinking pine needle tea if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. The needles contain phytoestrogens that may induce a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Although there is limited research on pine needle tea’s effect on pregnancy, one study on needles from the Ponderosa pine trees (Pinus ponderosa species) ingested by cows suggests that it has an abortive effect. Pine needles are thought to have a vasoconstrictive effect that may decrease blood flow to the uterus. This could cause fetal distress, premature labor, or a spontaneous abortion.
Experience the Benefits of Pine Needle Tea for Yourself
Now that you know just how awesome pine needle tea is for your health, why not give it a try. Pine needle tea is a great way to boost your health, but brewing it yourself may not be practical. That's why we've created easy to use products that help you get the most out of pine needles.
Our products are environmentally friendly and designed by a chemical engineer. We are committed to providing the best products to our customers while sharing our love for science and herbalism with you. Check out our best sellers White Pine Elixir (a concentrated elixir) or our White Pine Needle Extract which is a tincture made from eastern white pine needles. Or explore all our best sellers!