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Red Pine Needle Oil: What it is, Its Benefits, and Side Effects

  • Pine needle extract, known as red pine needle oil, has been utilized for its health benefits for millennia.
  • Oil supplementation with red pine needle oil may support brain and immune system function.
  • Potential adverse effects include allergic reactions, urging caution and small doses initially.
  • Consultation with a health care provider is recommended before using red pine needle oil.
  • Not all pine species are suitable for oil production; research the species, such as Pinus densiflora, for safety.
  • Red pine needle oil is traditionally used to treat various health conditions but requires more scientific study.
  • When used appropriately, red pine needle oil is generally considered safe to use for most people.

Red pine needle oil, rich in medicinal compounds, has been a popular alternative medicine for over 4,000 years..

The red pine needle trees grow in their native mountainous regions of Korea and Japan, where the needles are then harvested and cooked down into the oil.

What Is Red Pine Needle Oil Good For

Red pine needle oil is thought to support brain function, detoxify the body, improve immunity, support hair health, reduce inflammation, and much more.

These purported health benefits are what have maintained the reputation of pine essential oil in oriental medicine and now helped it migrate into the world of Western alternative medicine.

So, what exactly is red pine needle oil, and what can we use it for? Is there any evidence to support its purported health benefits, or is it all placebo?

In this article, we’ll explore red pine needle oil in-depth, and discuss its benefits, limitations, how to consume it, and more.

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    What Is Red Pine Needle Oil?

    Red pine needle oil is made from the needles of the red pine tree. You may be more familiar with it as the native North American species which is sometimes called the “Norway Pine.”

    The red pine is usually found growing throughout southern Canada and Manitoba, and it can also be found on some of the highest mountainous ridges in the south of the United States.

    However, most red pine oil is made from Pinus densiflora, a red pine needle tree that’s native to Japan and Korea.

    The Korean pine needle tree (also called Pinus resinosa) can grow upwards of 100 feet. It has a straight tree trunk, with branches that grow to resemble an open rounded head once they reach maturity.

    Younger trees may take on a pyramidal shape, and their cross-checked, red-brown bark plates give these trees their distinctive look.

    They usually have orange-brown twigs which mature to dark brown, and their resinous buds appear the same.

    Red pine needle oil has a strong, dry, and somewhat earthy smell, just as the red pine tree does. Pine pollen powder is another fast-emerging health product from the pine family.

    This oil can also be made into capsules and soap, and as we mentioned above - it's believed to have been used in oriental medicine for over 4,000 years to treat various illnesses and ailments.

    Is It Safe To Ingest Pine Needle Oil?

    is it safe to take red pine needle oil

    Red pine needle oil generally has low toxicity to humans, and when taken in small doses, it’s recognised as safe for human consumption.

    There are many species of pine and only some are suitable for making pine needle oil that benefits human health. Be sure to do your research and make sure the brand you choose is using an appropriate species such as Pinus densiflora.

    You should always consult your GP before taking any alternative medicine as anyone with allergies to pine needle oil may also experience more serious side effects such as:

    • Hives
    • Redness
    • Dry skin
    • Swelling
    • Peeling skin
    • Itchiness
    • Respiratory issues

    While pine needle oil may cause adverse reactions in a very small amount of users, it’s also purported to have an array of health benefits.

    We’ll explore these in more detail below.

    Red Pine Needle Oil Benefits

    1.) Reducing Inflammation

    Red pine needle oil can be applied directly to the skin and used topically.

    Some people opt for this organic remedy to alleviate symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and acne. It may also help with muscle pain and arthritis.

    Unfortunately, it’s unclear from a scientific viewpoint as to whether or not pine needle oil can effectively inhibit these conditions, however, it has been used by countless people through the ages for exactly this.

    Other essential oils have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, including peppermint, ginger, and turmeric - so, it’s not outside the realms of possibility that red pine needle oil can work in a similar way.

    2.) Skin Antimicrobial

    Red pine needle oil is touted as having antimicrobial properties which many people use for sanitising skin and other areas around the home.

    Its antimicrobial properties are largely attributed to its resin content, which contains the compound turpentine, thought to also have antifungal and antiparasitic benefits.

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    3.) Stimulate And Boost The Immune System

    Some also claim that red pine needle oil can stimulate and boost the immune system.

    Although research is limited, we do know that red pine needle oil is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and Iron, both of which are beneficial for the immune system.

    Research has found that Vitamin A plays a vital role in enhancing human immune function. This is because Vitamin A is involved in cell development, and it increases the activity of our immune system cells.

    It’s also responsible for developing normal vision, growth, development, and reproduction.

    Iron can help preserve many important functions in the body, from our energy levels and general focus to our gastrointestinal processes and regular immune functions. Research has shown that low iron levels can degrade non-specific immunity, making us more vulnerable to pathogens.

    4.) May Lower Blood Pressure

    Some claim that red pine needle oil may also be an effective way to lower blood pressure naturally.

    Unfortunately, not enough research has been performed on the effects of red pine needle oil to determine this.

    However, research from 2016 found that extracts of Pinus koraiensis, another species of Korean pine from the same family as Pinus densiflora from the Pinaceae family, had a favourable effect on blood pressure.

    While these findings are promising, more research is needed to determine the extent of red pine needle oil's effects on blood pressure.

    Can You Use Pine Needle Oil For Tea?

    Can You Use Pine Needle Oil For Tea

    Pine needle oil is available commercially in various products, and antioxidant pine needle tea is a popular option.

    Although pine needle oil is usually applied topically or orally (in the form of a few drops), pine needle oil has become a popular beverage for users looking to dose in different ways.

    Pine needle oil tea is touted as the ultimate essential oil tea, and it was traditionally used to promote general health and even treat scurvy.

    Although it’s more common to find pine needle tea than pine needle oil tea, your pine needle oil can be added to your favourite tea and consumed regularly.

    However, remember that pine needle oil has a distinctive flavour and aroma that will be noticeable in your drink.

    Although some find that tea makes pine needle oil more palatable, you may prefer to add in some extra sugar or other sweeteners to disguise the taste (unless you’re a fan, in which case, you’ll love this!)

    How Do You Take Pine Needle Oil Orally?

    Want to take your pine needle oil orally? There are a few ways to do this.

    You can:

    • Drop pine needle oil directly onto your tongue
    • Add pine needle oil into tea, coffee, other beverages, or even your food
    • Take pine needle oil capsules

    There’s no right or wrong way to take your pine needle oil orally. However, you’ll need to follow the specified dosage guidelines to avoid adverse reactions.

    Unfortunately, there are no official dosage guidelines for pine needle oil, and advice may vary between manufacturers.

    So here are some observed guidelines to give you an idea of how much pine needle oil you should be taking.

    • For topical application, four drops of pine oil are recommended
    • For oral consumption, between one to five drops may be advised

    Before you take pine needle oil (orally or topically), it’s wise to do a sensitivity test. To do this, dilute a few drops of pine needle oil with water, apply them to the skin, and wait to see if a rash occurs.

    Pine needle oil should not be used on sensitive areas of the skin such as the eyes, ears, or inner nose and again - you should always consult your doctor before ingesting or using red pine needle oil to be on the safe side.

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    How Do You Use Pine Needle Oil?

    Pine needle oil is a valuable essential oil that’s trusted by many.

    Thankfully, it’s also a rather versatile oil that you can use in several ways. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to use pine needle oil.

    1.) Massage Oil

    One of the most popular ways to use pine needle oil is as a massage oil.

    Pine needle oil is believed to ease the pain associated with arthritis and rheumatism, and some even use it to ease the symptoms of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

    When used as a massage oil, most people mix pine needle oil with a carrier oil such as magnesium oil or jojoba oil and mix it together.

    Once you’ve done this, rub the mixture between your hands until it’s warm and massage it gently into the skin.

    However, if you have an inflammatory skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, we’d recommend talking to a doctor first before using pine needle oil as a massage oil.

    2.) In A Bath Or Sauna

    Another popular way to use pine needle oil is in a bath or a sauna. Pine needle oil is believed to have physical benefits, such as easing inflammation, and its distinctive woody scent is also relaxing.

    Try placing a few drops of pine needle oil in your bath to relieve any aches and pains or to simply inject a well-deserved dose of tranquillity into your day.

    If you have access to a steam sauna, you can also place several drops of pine needle oil on the sauna's hot rocks.

    When you do this, the steam can infuse the air around you with the aroma, which may also help clear any congestion you’re experiencing.

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    3.) In A Mist Diffuser

    Many people use red pine needle oil in a mist diffuser

    If you’re suffering from a respiratory ailment or cold-related congestion, this trick may help clear your sinuses quickly.

    However, we’d advise caution when using it this way as some people report respiratory irritation as a potential side effect.

    4.) Add It To A Drink Or Meal

    If none of the above methods appeal to you, you can even try adding a few drops of pine needle oil into your favourite drink or meal.

    If you’re not keen on the taste of pine needle oil, this is an effective alternative method to disguise it while still getting your daily dose.

    Is Pine Needle Oil Good For Hair?

    In the same way that people swear by ayurvedic hair oils, many also use red pine needle oil is purported to massage the scalp and contribute to shiny and voluminous hair. It may also add more moisture to your hair and protect against dandruff.

    Pine needle oil contains Vitamin E, which is essential for healthy skin and hair. Research has shown that Vitamin E’s natural antioxidant effects may also help support healthy hair and a healthy scalp.

    What’s more, a small study of 38 volunteers found that some of the components in Vitamin E helped prevent hair loss and improved hair growth when compared to the placebo.

    What Is The Different Between Pine Oil and Pine Needle Oil?

    Pine oil and pine needle oil: is there a difference?

    Pine oil essential oil is made through the steam distillation of needles, twigs, and the stumps of pine trees. Pine oil can come from a variety of species of pine.

    Pine needle oil, on the other hand, is made exclusively from pine needles, but it still uses steam distillation techniques. You’ll find little to no traces of twigs, stumps, or other parts of the pine tree in this extract.

    Pine needle oil can also be made at home. To do this, simply collect your pine needles, and pack them with the end of a spatula into your cooking pot. This helps to tear the needles and release their scent gently.

    Once you’ve done this, cook your needles on low heat (around 160 degrees) for four to five hours. You should check on your needles and push them down into the oil every hour.

    It’s important to recognise that these are two very different products as pine oil (and even some species of pine needle oil) are not fit for use as a health product.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is the difference between pine oil and pine needle?

    Pine oil is derived from the steam distillation of various parts of the pine tree, such as needles, twigs, and cones, while pine needle oil is specifically extracted from the needles of the pine tree. Pine needle oil is typically more concentrated and used for various conditions.

    2. What is the history of pine oil?

    Pine oil has a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations where it was valued for its strong antiseptic and therapeutic properties. It has been used in traditional medicine practices, particularly in Greek and Roman cultures, to treat a range of ailments.

    3. Is pine oil the same as Pine Sol?

    Pine oil and Pine-Sol are not the same; while pine oil is a natural essential oil extracted from the pine tree, Pine-Sol is a cleaning product that originally contained pine oil as one of its ingredients, but now mainly uses synthetic pine fragrance.

    4. Does pine oil have healing properties?

    Yes, pine oil is attributed with healing properties, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant effects, which have been traditionally used to treat infections, skin conditions, and respiratory issues. However, its effectiveness and safety depend on the purity of the oil and the manner of its use.

    The Bottom Line

    Red pine needle oil has been used in oriental medicine for thousands of years. These powerful essential oils are versatile and potentially beneficial, and preliminary studies reveal promising results.

    However, as our knowledge of red pine needle oil's true benefits and risks is still in its infancy, we’d always recommend talking to a doctor or medical professional before use.

    Red pine needle oil may cause adverse reactions in some users, so if you do choose to try it out, start out slowly and notice how your body responds.

    Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

    Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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