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Pine

Pine
Photo © P. Schönfelder

Botanical name

Scots pine - Pinus sylvestris L.

Family

Pine family of confiers (Pinaceae)

Useful information about the plant

Thanks to its sufficiency with respect to water, soil and air, the resin-rich varieties, the pine tree is an important species of tree in European forests and it extends far to the north and east to Siberia. It is also found in higher altitudes of the Alps. Their umbrella-shaped crown is loose and allows plenty of light to fall on the needles. The trunk is to 40m high and is free of knots high up in the older trees. Its scaly bark is a typical feature. The needles are 5 to 10cm long and grow in pairs on short shoots, which surround the twig-like bottle brushes. The pine blossoms every year and 2 to 7cm long tapered cones hang singly or in groups on the branch.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The plant itself is not used, but the "pine needle oil" extracted from it is. It is an essential oil that is produced through steam distillation from fresh, shredded twigs and the attached needles.

Ingredients of the drug

Pine needle oil consists mainly of monoterpene hydrocarbons, mainly of pinene, carene and limonene.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of pine needle oil (Pini aetheroleum silvestris) is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

Internally for colds in the respiratory tracts; externally to treat rheumatic complaints (heat therapy) and for nerve pain.

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

Pine needle oil in alcoholic solutions (also a supplement to rubbing alcohol), ointments, creams, emulsions, oils and baths (colds) for external use.

Dosage

Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Internally: Take 3 to 4 drops on a lump of sugar or in water several times a day. Externally: For an inhalation put a few drops of pine oil in hot water and inhale. For a bath put 5g oil in the bath water (35 - 38°C) and bathe in it for 10 to 20 minutes.

Preparation of a tea infusion

Advice

Pine needle oil should not be used in bronchial asthma and whooping cough, and never around the eyes. Do not apply on the face with infants and toddlers up to 2 years old, otherwise you risk spasms or respiratory arrest.

Side effects

Occasionally, skin irritations and eczema

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

Commission E

Further reading

Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 148
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 242
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Pine needle oil, no. 1842)

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