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Spruce

Botanical name

(Common) Spruce, Norway spruce - Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.

Family

Pine family (Pinaceae)

Useful information about the plant

The Spruce dominates the woodlands of North and Central Europe. When young it grows very slowly, after 20 years it starts to grow strongly upwards, driving the tree 30 to 40m in height. The great regularity of the tree´s taper makes it a popular ornamental tree. The needles of the Spruce are 1.3 to 2.5cm long, pointed and angular and grow spirally around the twig. The Spruce blossoms every three to four years and forms the hanging cones, 10 to 15cm long, whose winged seeds fall in the following spring. In autumn, the empty cones can be found under the tree.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The fresh spruce tips and essential oil (pine oil) extracted from the fresh, chopped branches and needles through steam distillation are used.

Ingredients of the drug

Fresh spruce tips contain essential oils and flavonoids, pine needle oil consists of monoterpenes, mainly bornyl acetate, pinene, phellandrene and camphene.

Descriptions of the quality

There is no official quality specification for fresh spruce tips (Picea turiones recentes) and the quality of the pine needle oil (Piceae aetheroleum) is specified in the German Pharmacopoeia (DAB). It also states there that oil from the Siberian fir (Abies sibirica Ledeb.) can be obtained, its needles contain a similarly formulated essential oil.

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

The Commission E has assessed both fresh pine tops and pine needle oil and describes identical areas of use for them: internally for colds of the respiratory tracts; externally to treat rheumatic complaints (heat therapy) and for nerve pain.

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • Aqueous extracts of fresh spruce tips for internal use
  • Undiluted pine needle oil for internal use
  • Pine needle oil in an alcoholic solution or incorporated in ointments, creams, emulsions, oils and baths (bath for colds) for external use

Dosage

Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Internally: Take 3 to 4 drops on a lump of sugar or water several times a day.
Externally: Put a few drops of pine oil in hot water and inhale. Put 5g oil as a bath in a bath (35 - 38°C) leave for 10 to 20 minutes and bathe in it. Brew 200 to 300g fresh spruce tips with 1l of hot water, strain after 5 minutes and pour the brew into a full bath.

Preparation of a tea infusion

Advice

Pine needle oil is not recommended for bronchial asthma and whooping cough, and never put it in the area of the eyes. For infants and toddlers up to 2 years old there is the risk of spasms or respiratory arrest, so do not apply on the face. Do not use baths with larger skin lesions, inflammatory skin diseases, fever, heart failure and high blood pressure.

Side effects

Occasionally, skin irritations and eczema

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

Commission E

Further reading

Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 96
Kommentar zum Deutschen Arzneibuch

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