The aromatic pine plant is a member of pinaceae family which is made up by a big number of species varieties. The family of coniferous pine trees counts more than 115 species and is native to the Northern Hemisphere; spread in Asia, Africa, and North America. Some pine species (such as Sumatran Pine) reach over the Equator, too. Typical pine tree has a straight, smooth cylindrical trunk that reaches up to 80 m high (average – 10-45 m). The spiral branches in the middle and at the top of the trunk carry needle-shaped leaves, that grow in stages through seed, juvenile and scale. The cones on the pines can be both male and female on the same tree, or, in other species, just of one gender. They mature (or fall – in some species) after pollination and release small winged seeds. Pine is considered as a bitter aromatic herb and is known for its resin widely used in production and medicinal applications.
Most pines prefer well drained soil with a good acidity, rich in calcium. The majority of species grows well in sandy ground with a good sun exposure. Within species, pines tolerate latitude and elevation, and extreme conditions such as dry and hot climate.
Pine leaves are usually picked in summer and dried for herbal preparations, such as infusions and pine extracts. They are also used fresh. Branches and needles is the source of the essential oil extracted for medicinal and aromatherapy uses. Its fresh camphor-like aroma is highly valued for a variety of household and personal care uses. Also, antioxidant properties of pine bark make it a popular component in herbal blends. In addition, nuts of some pines are edible and considered a delicacy.
Pine is not only the world's favorite Christmas tree, but its components serve as a source for a variety of personal care products, as well as medicinal preparations. Branch tips, needles and shoots are rich in resin from which the pine oil is distilled. It is often found in detergents, perfumes, massage oils and cold and cough preparations. Pine bark and oil are used in topical applications for skin and circulation disorders; and the tea brewed from bark extract or the needles is effective against inflammations. Pine bark is also available in tablets, tinctures and capsules.
Used internally, pine extract is effective in treating the conditions of lower and upper respiratory tract, bronchial disorders with heavy secretions. As a vapor agent, pine oil is good against colds, coughs and asthma, sinusitis and even hangover.
Those concerned with weight loss might find it helpful to know that pinolenic acid in the nut oil provides appetite suppression actions by enhancing the release of hormone curbing the appetite.
Also, added into a bath or massage oil, pine oil is known to be effective against cellulite.
Pine oil should be used with a special care, though, since in high concentrations it can be toxic and irritate the skin.
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