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Pine Oil: A Potential Panacea?

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  • In aromatherapy, pine oil is indicated and used for cuts, lice, excessive perspiration, scabies, sores on the skin, arthritis, gout, muscular aches and pains, asthma, bronchitis, common colds and flu, and stress-related conditions such as neuralgia
  • Pine oil provides a pile of profound health benefits as tall as its trees. Discover more about pine oil and why it's a favorite essential oil in aromatherapy

Pine oil provides a pile of profound health benefits as tall as its trees. Discover more about pine oil and why it's a favorite essential oil in aromatherapy.

What Is Pine Oil?

Pine oil is a colorless to pale yellow essential oil. Depending on its source, pine oil may either have a fresh, earthy, and forest-like fragrance or a strong, dry, balsamic, turpentine-like odor. Also called fir leaf oil or oleum folii pini sylvestris, pine oil should not be confused with pine nut oil. Pine nut oil, which is also referred to as pinon, pine kernel, or Indian nut, is a vegetable oil mostly used for cooking. It is derived from the seeds of the pine tree.1

Pine oil, on the other hand, is extracted through steam distillation of the needle-like foliage of the pine tree. Generally, pine oil comes from trees of the genus Pinus. Some of its well-known varieties include:2

Uses of Pine Oil

Below are some practical uses for pine oil — plus handy tips on how you can use it at home. Pine oil can be used as:

Composition of Pine Oil

Pine oil contains 50 to 97 percent monoterpene hydrocarbons, of which 60 to 65 percent is a-terpineol. It also has car-3-ene, dipentene, β-pinene, a-terpinene, y-terpinene, bornyl acetate, cadinene, sylvestrene, and camphene.6

Pine oil is best blended with botanical essential oils like cedarwood, rosemary, sage, labdanum, and juniper.

Benefits of Pine Oil

Pine oil has antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, anti-neuralgic, and anti-rheumatic properties.7 It also works as a good decongestant and expectorant for respiratory ailments. In addition, pine oil is praised for its ability to naturally help:

What I love about pine oil is that it's a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, which makes it a potential substitute for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that comes with loads of devastating side effects. Check out my NSAIDS: The Painful Truth Behind Painkillers infographic for more information on NSAIDs.

How to Make a Pine Oil Infusion

The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of fresh twigs and needles of the pine tree. Sometimes sawdust from the hard wood is also used. In order to extract the oil, the botanical material is placed in a still and is subjected to extremely high temperatures.

To make your own pine oil infusion at home, follow this easy do-it-yourself guide from eHow.10

What you will need:

Procedure:

  1. Harvest fresh pine needles. Do not use pine needles that have fallen to the ground, as they are very likely to cause molds and spoil your essential oil.
  2. Wash the pine needles with warm water and mild detergent soap to remove impurities. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Pat the pine needles dry with clean paper towels.
  4. Gently bruise the leaves using mortar and pestle.
  5. Pour the sweet almond oil into the large-mouth jar.
  6. Add all the pine needles into the jar.
  7. Cover the jar and shake it to cover the needles with almond oil.
  8. Store the jar in a warm room with an ambient temperature of at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it out of direct sunlight.
  9. Shake the jar once a day for seven days.
  10. After one week, put in a dark storage — for example, inside your cupboard — and allow it to age/ferment for at least 14 days. Do not shake the jar during this time period.
  11. After 14 days, sift the oil through a piece of cheesecloth or fine-mesh cotton gauze to remove solid particles. Squeeze cheesecloth to get remaining essential oil.
  12. Transfer your homemade pine oil in a dark bottle. Cover with cap tightly to keep it fresh longer and to avoid contamination.

Warning: Do not ingest homemade essential oils. Discard homemade pine oil after 10 to 12 months.

How Does Pine Oil Work?

The most common ways to administer pine oil are orally, topically, and through inhalation. In aromatherapy, pine oil is indicated and used for cuts, lice, excessive perspiration, scabies, sores on the skin, arthritis, gout, muscular aches and pains, asthma, bronchitis, common colds and flu, and stress-related conditions such as neuralgia.11

If you're going to use pine oil topically as a moisturizing oil to improve skin condition or as a liniment for muscle pain relief, I recommend doing a skin test first before applying it to large portions of your skin. It should also be diluted with a carrier oil.

Is Pine Oil Safe?

Pine oil is generally safe except for isolated reports of sensitizing reaction in some individuals. Dwarf pine oil is a common cause of contact dermatitis. But this is only true in oxidized oils.12 This is why you should make sure you only buy pure, high-quality essential oils from trusted sellers and manufacturers. Discard old and expired bottles of pine oil.

If you are planning to get pregnant, already pregnant, or breastfeeding your child, I advise against taking pine oil or any kind of essential oil without the consent of your doctor.

Side Effects of Pine Oil

While pine oil has low risks of toxicity in humans, inappropriate dosage, improper application, or use of low-quality and oxidized variants may cause skin rashes, eye irritation, gastrointestinal issues, severe aspiration, and respiratory distress.13 As a safety precaution, do not integrate pine oil or any type of essential oil in your treatment protocol without seeking expert medical opinion. Consult your a natural healthcare practitioner about this matter, so you can be guided accordingly.

Again, for simple dermal applications, I recommend doing a skin test first. Apply pine oil on a small area of your skin. Wait for 24 to 48 hours to see if redness or any sign of irritation will occur before using it on larger parts of your body.

Sources and References

  • 1 Anaphylaxis UK
  • 2 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, 1999
  • 3 Esoteric Oils
  • 4 Chemical Dictionary of Economic Plants, 2001
  • 5 Llewellyn's Complete Formulary of Magical Oils: Over 1200 Recipes, Potions & Tinctures for Everyday Use, 2012
  • 6 Chemical Dictionary of Economic Plants, 2001
  • 7 Organic Facts
  • 8 Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, 2006
  • 9 Organic Facts
  • 10 eHow, How to Make Pine Oil
  • 11 Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, 2006
  • 12 Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, 2013
  • 13 Toxicology Data Network
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