Roses (Rosa spp.)

Rosa spp. (Rose)

There are 100 Rosa species worldwide, with 54 species in North America.

(“Mei Gui Hua” in Chinese, “Satapatri” in Sanskrit)



Rosaceae (Rose family)- 5 petals, 5 sepals, (usually) numerous stamen, several to numerous simple pistils (or united at the base). Oval, serrated, alternate leaves.

Worldwide, about 100 genera and 3000 species. 50 genera in North America.

Rose family produces many edible fruits. Tannins common, giving astringent properties. Cyanide compounds often found in leaves and fruits of some species.


Vitalist Actions and Energetics

Cool and moist (fresh plant), cool and dry (dried plant), vital stimulant, relaxant

Petals: sweet, slightly bitter, warm

Meridians/ organs affected: liver, spleen, heart

Tissues affected: skin, mucous membranes, GI glands, heart, nerves


Clinical Actions

Cardiotonic, nervine tonic, intestinal tonic (Bergner)


Rosa rugosa Petals: carminative, stimulant, emmengagogue, aromatic stomachic, aperient. Dries cold, clear mucous discharges, releives constrictive feelings of the chest and abdomen (stuck liver chi), treats poor appetite, harmonizes blood, and is used for irregular menstruation and pain caused by blood stagnation. (Tierra)


Rosa chinensis petals: promotes blood circulation. Treats painful, delayed, or stopped menses. Add brown sugar when treating stopped or light menses accompanied by pain, emotional tension, and possible constipation. (Tierra)


Rose hips: same properties as vitamin C. Vitamin C effects enhanced by flaonols, with their antioxidant and “Vitamin P”- like effects (helps normalize an increased microvascular permeability and fragility). Mild stomachic, laxative, and diuretic effects. (Diuretic effects attributed to the seeds). (Skenderi)


Rose petals: aromatic, anti-microbial, astringent, anti-inflammatory. (Skenderi)


Any part of any rose can be used to ease headaches, relieve dizziness, nourish the nerves and heart, invigorate the entire being, remedy menstrual cramps, strengthen the bones, and moderate mood and hormonal swings during menopause. Rose hips are an excellent source of flavanoids. (Weed, 48)



Rosa rugosa petals: linalool, L-p-menthene, cyanin, gallic acid, beta-carotene (Tierra)


Rose hips: vitamin C, organic acids (malic and citric acids), flavanoids (mostly quercetin, rutin, kaempferol), pectin, sugars (invert sugar, etc), tannins (proanthocyanidins), carotenoids (carotenes, lutein, etc), etc. (Skenderi)


Rose petals: volatile oil (geraniol, citronellol, eugenol, terpenes, nerol, 2-phenylethanol, etc), tannins, flavanoids (anthocyanins, flavonols), organic acids (quinic acid, etc), etc. (Skenderi)


Hips: vitamins B1, B2, C, E, K, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sulfur, zinc, polyphenols, tannins, pectin, vanillin (Mars)


Common Forms and Dosages


Tincture: 1:2 60% fresh petals. 7song doesn’t use Rose tincture much in his practice. The medicine goes well with a sweet menstruum, such as glycerite or honey. 7song more often gives it as part of an infusion formula.

Oil: folk method infusion of fresh dried petals. Helpful for relaxing massage.

Infusion: standard infusion of dried petals. Works well as a corrigent for various other formulas. The taste is light, flowery, mildly sweet and astringent, and subtle. It takes more roses to get the taste, in a formula.

Standard infusion of dried hips. Sour, tastes well alone or in formulas. Not to be decocted, as the vitamin C loses its potency that way. Super high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Wash/ soak/ sitz/ bath: with dried petals, essential oil, tincture, or infused oil. Astringent, mildly disinfectant. Useful for boggy tissues, oiliness, and other conditions where astringents are helpful.

Poultice: with crushed up fresh petals. Astringent.

Essential oil: called “Rose attar.””

Properties: mild sedative, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, soothing, comforting, uplifting, regulating, heart tonic, astringent, antiseptic, choleretic, cicatrizant, depurative, hemostatic, hepatic, laxative, appetite regulator, stomachic

Scent: floral, rosy, rich, sweet, warm, tender, tenacious.

Uses: skin care (thread veins, dry, mature, and sensitive skin, wrinkles, eczema, herpes). Circulatory stimulant. Nervous system (depression, impotence, insomnia, frigidity, headache, nervous tension, stress). Reproductive system (irregular menses, leukorrhea, menorrhagia, uterine disorders). (Lawless)

Flower essence: helps move energy through difficult times, while maintaining a positive outlook.

Honey: folk method of covering a jar filled with petals, with honey, then letting sit. Delicious heart medicine.

Glycerite: 1:2 fresh petals to glycerite.

Sugar: also known as rose Gulkand (Ayurveda). Add alternating layers of petals, sugar, petals, sugar... until the jar is filled. Let sit. The sugar will absorb the rose constitutents. Over time, it will turn into syrup. Both the syrup and petals are delicious.

Wine: let the rose sugar sit until it ferments into wine. Or, my mom’s technique: fill a jar with petals, add sugar on top, then fill the jar again with spring water. Let sit, until it ferments into wine.

Rose water: astringent, useful as a skin-care toner, and mild antiseptic astringent for cuts and scrapes. There are two recipes for this in the “others’ formulas” section of this article.

Hydrosol: useful in skin-care/ creme recipes. Gentle sweet rosy scent.

Vinegar: another useful topical astringent.


Historical usage

Native Americans used all parts of the Rosa species. The seeds were cooked and eaten for relief from muscular pains. The roots were used as a general astringent for diarrhea, sore throat, conjunctivitis, and as a syptic. The petals were used as bacteriostatic, protective bandages on burns and minor wounds and to treat colic and heartburn. A leaf poultice was used for insect stings and bites. Rose petal wine was used to ease labor pains, in folklore. (Tilgner)


Roses have been cultivated since antiquity. Sappho, the 6th century BC Greek poet, described the red rose as the “queen of flowers.” It was used in Roman festivities, and eaten as food. Arab physician Avicenna (AD 980-1037) invented the process of distillation, and was the first to distill rosewater. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, rose was used as a depression remedy. The name, “Rose” comes from the Greek “rodon,” which means “red.” In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was said to pierce her foot on a white rose, bleeding onto it and turning it red, while running to save her lover, Adonis. Egyptian Queen Cleopatra bathed in rose water, and used the essential oil of Rose absolut to seduce her Roman lover, Antony. In Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna’s favorite flower was said to be rose. Hindus wash and clean their altars with rose water. In Christian stories, Jesus was said to have worn a crown of rose thorns.


Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the rose bud to alleviate emotional stagnation (especially frustration and resentment), and depression. There are nine Rosa species covered in the Grand Dictionary of Chinese Medicinals. It was first mentioned in the Materia Medica for Food, published in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as sweet, slightly bitter, warm, and non-toxic. It’s said to promote the movement of Chi and relieve constraint in the form of liver-stomach disharmony, with pain and distention in the flanks and epigastrium, belching, and poor appetite. It harmonizes the blood, and disperses stagnation such as irregular menses, pre-menstrual breast tenderness, menstrual pain, and trauma-induced stasis.


“Love is like a rose, and roses are not made within days. Years are needed for full development, and each bloom has a slow unfolding.” (Juliette De Barclay Levy) She used the wild roses that grew in regions where she traveled for medicine.


Roses were used in Mayan tradition after births. A pot of plants, including roses, would be heated as an infusion. The new mother would sit on a chair with a hole in the seat, covered with a cloth from the neck downwards, as the pot of steaming plants was placed underneath her (an elaborate sitz bath). Roses were said to speed the healing process with its anti-inflammatory properties, drawing out excess afterbirth fluids, and soothing the mother’s emotions. After that healing process, rose was used as an aphrodisiac for the new mother.


In Ayurveda, rose is said to balance Sadhaka Pitta, which is the sub-dosha of Pitta. Sadhaka Pitta governs the emotions and their effects on the heart. Roses soothe the heart and emotions, and is gently cooling, stringent, and neutralizing. It further balances the mind, by enhancing the coordination between Sadhaka Pitta and Prana Vata. Prana Vata is the sub-dosha of Vata that governs the brain, chest, respiration, sensory perception, and mind.


Cautions and Contraindications

None reported, when used properly. When drinking rose hip tea or infusion, make sure you strain properly, to filter out the irritating hairs.


Personal Experience


Glycerite- 1:2 fresh petals. Took 30 gtts. Such a strong, sweet taste! Almost burns the back of my throat with its sweetness. Energetics drops downwards. Feel relaxation, and a “sweet” emotion. Colors brighter, feeling gentler. Now is a good time to ask me for a favor.


Honey- Feel expansion of chest, like I can sing, fill myself with breath, embrace the whole world. Chest sensation expands to head. Heady, almost “high” sensation. Feel tingles, wiggly in my fingers and toes. A giddy, giggly, happy teenager high-on-life feeling. Ecstatic, loving, delightful. Sweet taste sticks to the back of my throat. Feels digestive. Feeling in head moved down to jaw. Feel jaw loosening, like I could smile more easily. Uplifted feeling.


Wine- recipe listed above. Made by my Ma from organic home roses, unknown species. Initial feeling of heat, from the alcohol. Feeling of satiation, warmth, nourishment, well-being. Feel heat primarily in the chest area, then spreading downwards and outwards: into the bellies, and out in the extremities. I can feel my cheeks getting pink. I could happily get tipsy in love with this. Soon afterwards, extremities cooled down. Only drank 1 tsp.


Sugar- this sweet rose medicine feels the most gentle. Its smell was strongest, color reddest. Once again, feeling similar feelings as the honey. Chest expansion, small head rush, joy inducing, giddy bringing. Taking this at 10 PM. It’s the final of the three rose sweet medicines that I am taking, after a few minutes interval between each. Felt high, but have now crashed. Am sleepy. Will take a rose oil bath.


Medicine making notes- Remove the rose hip seeds before using them (drying, making jams or infusions, etc). If you don’t, then it is much more difficult to remove afterwards.


Overall Experience


I grew up with rose bushes lining the edges of our front and back yard in southern California. Besides roses, my parents just grew fruit trees, and the usual American lawn of grass. I developed a complex love-hate relationship with this plant, which grew more complex, as the years went on, and I continued to deepen my relationship with plants in general, as an herbalist and amateur botanist. 

I have strong memories of playing soccer as a kid, and screaming with disappointment each time our soccer ball inadvertently landed amongst the thorny rose bushes, almost immediately popping ball after sacred ball. I would often ask my parents, "Why do you grow those things?" woefully presenting them with yet another popped soccer ball. My mom would simply answer, ""They are beautiful, and I love them," and, "Be more careful next time. Don't play around the roses." 


We picked rose flowers when they bloomed in the spring and summers, placing them around the house in colorful, aromatic arrangements. I enjoyed the softness of the petals, the sweetness of the aroma, and the beauty of the bright colors bedecking the house. I remember lying on the grass under the rose bushes on balmy nights, watching the stars, dreaming up stories, and inhaling deeply the rosy perfume wafting mysteriously through the night air. 


When I moved to the northeast, I became intimately familiar with the invasive and ever-present Rosa multiflora, who dogged my steps as I ran barefoot through the forest with my pack of feral student children. We made wild rose chocolates for our spring feast, spoons, hands, and faces covered with chocolate essenced with wild roses that had been strenuously picked and de-seeded by about 2 dozen small, exuberant, and deliciously dirty hands. In the winter, when everything lay silent in different shades of white and grey, only the little red dried rosehips and barberry berries colored the dull landscape. We picked them, placing them in beautiful arrangements for the fairy folk to find. 

In my second summer in Connecticut, I deeply connected with a beautiful herbalist, Lucy Mitchella. We visited a local beach for her yearly Rose collecting party, where thick-petaled pink 
Rosa rugosa bushes vigorously grew out of the stones that stood upon a small peninsula jutting straight into the ocean. We picked bag after bag of petals, intoxicated by the scent of the petals, the smell of the salty ocean, the sound of waves crashing against the shore, and the sunshine infusing the essences of ocean, roses, and summer glee deeply into our beings. Later, as we drove home with a car full of rose petals steeping in the hot sun, we couldn't stop giggling. We stopped for coconut ice-cream, infusing the petals into coconut milk, and mushing the petals into the ice-cream. I remember sitting in the middle of a parking lot with the door wide open, our skirts blowing in the wind, rose aroma wafting out of the doors of Lucy's truck, licking my fingers of sticky rose-infused ice-cream and coconut milk, and just laughing and laughing. 


This to me, is the essence of rose medicine. Pure delight, born of an immediate connection with the world around me. An uncontrollable radiance of womanhood, manhood, humanhood. An opening of previously unidentified inhibitions, releasing into imitable love, joy, and even ecstasy. The feeling of pure beauty, magic, and wonder as a child. The presence of pain, and direct encountering of emotions. Thorns that set clear boundaries that allow for deeper opening, deeper enjoyment, deeper humanity. Deeper, ever deeper. Open my heart wider, ever wider. The sensorial delight of more presence, more perfection, more reality in all its thorns and flowers, suns and seas, and stories that continue to expand through relationship and connection. 


Roses are red, violets are blue. Dear rose species, I love you! 

The easiest way to get some Rose action into your life: pick them, and place them in your room, in a visible and smellable place. Sleep next to them, allowing them to infiltrate your dreams. If you can find or grow organic roses, then try making some of the recipes suggested in this article. It’s easiest to just directly eat the petals on their own, or in sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. It’s also easy to make and enjoy rose honey, rose sugar, and rose wine.


Herbal Pairs

Essential oil: Rose attar absolute blends well with jasmine, orange flower, geranium, bergamot, lavender, clary sage, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, chamomile, clove, palmarosa, cacao, vanilla, cinammon (Lawless)


Regardless of client symptoms and constitution, rose is helpful for almost everyone. Many conditions have underlying roots in our emotions. Rose is a gentle loving hug for the nervous system. It complements most formulas. I didn’t find any historical pairs with rose. I think it is because it is often overlooked as a potent medicine. Henriette’s Herbals only notes it as being a “delicious additive” to formulas, without noting roses’s own medicine.


7song used rose a lot at the Ithaca Free Clinic, especially in teas and glycerites. I came to really appreciate this medicine. It is honestly a plant that I would love to put into every medicine that I make, but its flavor is generally weak, and easily overpowered. Thus, I like it as an essential oil (though it is expensive).


Below are some categories and pairs that I feel rose especially shines in:


Rose in nervine/ relaxant formulas, paired with Chamomile, Lavender, Tulsi, St. Johnswort, Kava, etc.

Rose in aphrodisiac formulas, paired with Damiana, Cacao, Vanilla, Ginger, etc.

Rose in female reproductive system formulas, paired with Raspberry leaf, Red Clover, Motherwort, Mugwort, etc.




EarthSong Chai


Decoct for 10 minutes:

- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) (2)(166 g)

- Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus) (2) (166 g)

- Cinnamon bark (Cinamomum cassia) (1) (133 g)

- Cardamom whole seed (Amomum castatum) (1) (133 g)

- Cloves whole seed(Syzgium aromaticum) (1) (133 g)

- Ginger dried rhizome (Zingiber officinale) (0.5) (26 g)


Add afterwards, then let simmer for 3 minutes:

- Tulsi leaves (Ocimum sanctum) (2) (348 g)

- Rose petals (Rosa spp.) (2) (348 g)

- Roasted barley, roasted chicory root, roasted dandelion root, or green/ black tea (1) (174 g)

- Cacao powder (Theobroma cacao) (or carob (Ceratonia siliqua)) (0.5) (87 g)

- Black pepper (Piper nigrum) (0.25) (43 g)

- Vanilla bean (Vanilla planifolia) (1/2 to 1 dried bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

- Stevia or honey, to taste



Amounts are noted in parts. Next to the proportions (parts), amounts are listed for a 1000 g jar of dried herbs to decoct, and a 1000 g jar of dried herbs to infuse.



To make 1 L of EarthSong Chai tea, add 14 g each of the decoction (first) and infusion (second) formula to 1 L of water.

Boil 1 L of water, then add 14 g of the decoction formula to decot for 10 minutes at medium heat. Make sure you cover the pot.

Then, add the 14 g of the infusion formula to simmer for another 3 minutes at low heat.

Strain, and drink as desired. Remember to share with your friends and loved ones!



This tea is a delicious, grounding, nourishing, warming, and relaxing sensory celebration. Traditional chai ingredients include black tea (which I prefer to replace with substitutes that are more nourishing, less stimulating, and equally tasty), cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, black pepper, and cloves. Most of these plants are warming circulatory stimulants, digestive stimulants, and anti-inflammatory. Earthy- flavored Chaga complements the taste of the chai, and provides an extra nutritive and immunity boosting underlayer to this multi-layered chai. Cacao and vanilla also complement existing flavors, while providing an extra richness and sweetness that draws out the more subtle flavors. Cacao, rose, and tulsi are “heart medicines” that target the emotional body: releasing anxiety, restoring a delightful sensation of calmness and joyous well-being. They elicit a sense of rich decadence that complements the more excitatory nature of the chai. Astragalus doesn’t have much of a taste, but is partnered with Chaga to boost the immune system in a more gentle way, as a nutritive tonic.


This tea is for everyone! It tends toward warming energetics, but is pretty well-balanced energetically, and offers nutritional and immune support, with an emphasis on increasing one’s sense of well-being and groundedness.



If you are prone to insomnia, then don’t use green/ black tea. You may also consider leaving out cacao powder, if you are super sensitive to stimulants.




- Rose (Rosa spp.) (2)

- Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) (2)

- Oatstraw (Avena sativa) (1)

- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) (1)

- Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) (0.25)

- Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) (a pinch)



Add 28 g of formula to 1 L of water. Let steep for 20 minutes, then strain. You can re-use the strained marc a multitude of times, finally doing an overnight standard infusion, to extract all the last bits of medicine out of it. Drink as often as desired. For one with nervous system and/ or emotional upset, drink after eating dinner, at least 2 hours before sleep. Chamomile and tulsi get bitter in an overnight infusion, which is why I suggest using the formula first, before doing the overnight infusion.



All of the herbs in this formula are relaxing. Rose and tulsi are nervines. Tulsi, chamomile, and lavender are relaxing digestives. Oatstraw is a relaxing nutritive that provides a great anchor (slightly demulcent, and grounding) to the rest of the more flowery tastes in this tea. This tea helps to relax an over-busy or stressed mind, bring quiet presence to the present moment, draw awareness and enjoyment to one’s body, and soothe on all levels: heart, mind, body, and spirit.



If you are sensitive to Chamomile, then do not drink this tea in the morning, as it may be too calming. Also, watch for Asteraceae sensitivities.





- St. Johnswort flowers (Hypericum perforatum) (1)

- Hawthorne flower (Crataegus spp.) (1)

- Motherwort flowers (Leonorus cardiaca) (1)

- Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia) (0.5)

- Ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale) (0.5)



- Rose petal honey or glycerite (Rosa spp.) (3)


Infuse into the above:

- Vanilla (1/2 to 1 bean pod) (Vanillin plannifolia)



Take 30-60 gtts as needed. For times of trouble, carry around this tincture to use on an “as needed” basis, and complement with the SereniTea nightly.


Optional additions

Nutritive immune boosting herbs such as Chaga, Ashwagandha. Nutritive alteratives such as nettles or burdock. Flower essences such as yarrow, chaparral, or white chestnut.



Something sunny and cheerful for those dark days, when everything seems to be going wrong. If it’s for pre-menstrual symptoms, then you can add such female tonic plants, such as Raspberry leaf or red clover flowers, to the tea or tincture. One could also increase the intake of such nourishing plants as Nettles and Oats, in the form of infusions.


If the sadness stems from unknown sources, then I would accompany this tincture with journaling, introspection, and whatever else nourishes you through these times. Increase exercise and whole foods intake, decrease sugary or processed foods, and find someone to talk to, a therapist if need be.


There are four different kinds of flowers in this tincture. Flowers are the reproductive system of plants, full of energy, and bursting with life potential. In this tincture, they lend their joyous celebratory nature to the “sunny” medicine of the formula. The formula is about half rose honey, and half alcoholic tincture mix. It’s a “sweet” medicine, including warming and relaxing vanilla, that opens the spiritual and emotional heart, releases woes, and exposes sunlight into the dark areas of the soul.


I included so much rose honey/ glycerite in the formula, because of rose’s nervine, soothing, relaxing, and sweetening heart qualities. Rose complements sweet flavors very well, as rose is mildly astringent but energetically sweet. They balance each other out in a lovely way, and I always experience such a decadent feeling of self-love and satisfaction, as I ingest any form of rose sweets.


St. Johnswort is famous in this country as an herbal anti-depressant. I include it in this formula partially for that reason, but primarily because the sunny yellow flowers are literally like floral sunshine. Soothing, anti-depressant, and gently joy-inducing, they are perfect married with the similar nature of rose, and heart-opening Hawthorne, and nourishing digestive Motherwort.


Cinnamon and ginger potentiate the formula, bringing a little more circulation into the system, to kickstart some adrenaline and endorphins, and hopefully spark some incentive to go out for some actual sunshine and enlivening exercise.


Enjoy the tincture, but don’t become dependent on it. Allow it to support you, develop tools and techniques that work for you, and then set out on your own.



Resources Cited

Herbal Vade Mecum, Skenderi, pg. 321-322

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Chevallier, pg. 262

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory Tilford, pg. 162

Planetary Herbology, Tierra, petals pg. 257, 282, hips pg. 343, 130

Actions Database (http://naimh.com/Actions/naimh-actions-database.htm)


Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way (Susun Weed) p. 48

Aromatherapy (Lawless) p. 204

Healing Herbal Teas (Brigitte Mars) p. 85- 87

Botany in a Day (Thomas Elpel) p. 91

Herbal Healing for Women (Rosemary Gladstar)

http://www.redrootmountain.com/the-rise-of-the-wild-rose-2/123 (Red Root Mountain school)

http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Wild-As-A-Rose.htm (Susun Weed)

A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve (https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/roses-18.html)

Rose Magazine (http://www.rosemagazine.com/articles04/roses_love/)


Pinus spp.

Pinus spp. (Pines)



Pinaceae (Pine Family)


The Pine family originated about 100 million years ago.


Pine family genera differentials, from Elpel and Moore:

- Pines (Pinus spp.) have 1 to 8 needles in bundles of two or more, wrapped together at the base by a little papery sheath. P. monophylla is the only pine that doesn’t have this characteristic. Pine cones are woody and stiff, instead of the papery scaled and flexible spruce cones.

- Larches (Larix spp.) have deciduous neeles arranged in a spiral at the branch buds.

- Spruces (Picea spp.) have sharp, pointy needles that roll between the fingers. The cones hang down.

- Firs (Abies spp.) have soft, “furry” needles that are flat, and don’t roll between the fingers. The cones point up.

- Hemlocks (Tsuga spp.) have short, flat, blunt needles attached by a small stem.



Michael Moore includes for medicinal usage: P. aristata, P. arizonica, P. attenuata, P. balfouriana, P. contorta, P. discolor, P. edulis, P. engelmannii, P. flexilis, P. jeffreyi, P. lembertiana, P. leiophylla, P. longaeva, P. monophylla, P. moticola, P. ponderosa, and P. strobiformis. There are 100 Pinus spp. plants in the world, and 50 species in the USA. (Elpel)


Pines will grow from timberline up to 5000 feet in elevation. The pinon pines grow at the lowest elevation, followed by the yellow pine and ponderosas.


Male strobili (reproductive parts) are smaller than female strobili. They usually reside in the lower parts of trees, and die soon after releasing their pollen to the wind. Female strobili are larger and usually located higher in the trees. The female cones are aerodynamically shaped to create swirling wind currents to catch the pollen. The pollen and cones are aerodynamically matched to each other, so that each species catches its own pollen. (Elpel)


Pine differentials:

- Red pines usually have needle bundles of 2.

- Yellow pines usually have needle bundles of 3.

- White pines usually have needle bundles of 5.


Vitalist Actions and Energetics

Bitter, warm. Affects liver and kidney (Tierra).


Clinical Actions

Analgesic, anti-spasmodic, stimulant.

Pine needle essential oil: rubefacient, antimicrobial, expectorant. (Skenderi)

Buds: (dried, of P. sylvestris) mild expectorant, antiseptic, circulatory stimulant (Skenderi)

Resin: chew and swallow and currant-sized piece, as an expectorant that generally softens bronchial mucus (Moore). helpful also as a lower urinary tract disinfectant, but not when kidney inflammation is present.



From Michael Moore:

Plant: 3-beta-methoxy-14-serraten-21-on, cis-abienol, leucocyanidin, neoabietinic acid, strobic acid, pinosylvin-monomethylester

Resin, exudate, sap: dehydroabietic acid, elliotic acid, abietic acid, isopimaric acid, laevopimaric acid, palustric acid, pimaric acid, sandaracopimaric acid, strobinic acid

Leaf: anticopalic acid


From Tierra:

Lignin, a-pinene, camphene. Oil of P. Sylvestris contains terebenthine. The young resinous branches contain oils with esters, phellandrene, and pinene. It also produces glycosides (pinicrine, piceine, and coniferoside)


From Skenderi:

Pine needle essential oil: (from P. mugo) alpha and beta phellandrene, bornyl acetate, alpha and beta pinene, etc.

(From P. sylvestris) alpha pinene, beta phellandrene, 3-carene, etc.


Buds: (dried, of P. sylvestris) volatile oils (bornyl acetate, alpha and beta piene), bitter principles (pinipicrin), organic acids (quinic acid), flavanoids, acetophenone (piecein), sugars, etc.




Fresh resin

The fresh sticky pine resin is useful for acute care of cuts. It literally sticks together the cut, while keeping it clean via its antiseptic properties. Stuff may stick to the resin though, so consider sticking a cloth or bandage on top, to keep it clean.



You can directly crumble the dried resin onto charcoal, or onto a metal or earthen plate on a wood stove. Use a small amount, as the resins are quite smoky and aromatic, and the scent can easily become overwhelming. Besides enjoying the scent, I feel like the smoke is physically and energetically cleansing and energizing.



You can make a more complex incense with Kiva Rose’s kyphi recipe (listed in parts, below):

Resin 1

Berries 1

Besswax 1/2

Root/ bark 1/2

Flowers and leaves 3


Basically, you just dry, powderize, and mix all of your ingredients. Then, you add enough warmed mead/ honey/ wine until it’s all sticky (but not wet). Smear a half inch coat over wax paper, then warm on low heat, until the resins melt and the entire mixture coagulates into a whole (also known as a nice gooey delicious-smelling mess). Press flat against tray once more, then place in warm dry place to dry/ cure for 5-7 days. Once it’s mostly dry, break it into smaller pieces, store away, and burn as you please! These make lovely gifts, and I like to use them in ceremonies. You can mix and match your plant medicines and scents, like you would any other formula, but with attention to medicinal and energetic properties, plant stories and personal relationships, and scents. I like the idea of making kyphi with solstice and equinox, as a way to mark the seasons by engaging the gifts of the natural world into a cohesive aromatic memory-trigger and sensory stimulant.


Pine Resin Oil

It’s warming, stimulating, aromatic, and anti-microbial. A strong pine-infused oil or salve works as a counter-irritant, drawing out foreign material (such as splinters) within 48 hours of topical application. 7song also uses it for this purpose, though he cautions not to use it on wounds that are too deep or potentially infected, as the pine pitch salve may seal up the wound, and seal in the infection, if it’s there. For smaller cuts though, it creates a nice “natural bandage” over the area which is antiseptic, and keeps the wound sealed up. Just make sure that you have something to cover the pitch on your wound, such as a leaf, cloth, or bandage, otherwise you will stick to everything. Moore notes that “the abietic resins stimulate topial circulation, increase inflammation, and noticeably speed up the foreign body response; pus and fluids build up much more quickly than if unattended, and the splinter will usually pop out the next day.” He warns about a small healing crisis, a possible 20 hour period of greater inflammation and discomfort, before the foreign particle is counter-irritated out of the body.


A more diluted pine oil, added into a salve, creme, or oil blend, is a warming circulatory stimulant that may be helpful for sore muscles and joints, and with old injuries.


Summer is the best time to harvest pine resin. Make sure that you leave enough with the tree, as it may need it to repair its own wounds. After collecting half a jar of resin, separate the gooey and semi-solid resin from the hard resin. Break up the hard pieces. You can wrap it in cloth, and hammer it. Do not put it into a blender, or even mortar and pestle, as your equipment will then be forever sticky and resinous. (You can use rubbing alcohol to clean up afterwards, but get mixed results). Add the fresher, stickier resins into your jar first, then add your broken up harder pieces. Fill your jar up with your oil of choice, such as extra virgin organic olive oil. Take note that whatever jar you choose to do this in, will always be a resin jar. Heat is needed to dissolve the resin into the oil. Kiva likes to place the entire jar in her wood stove warmer for a few weeks. I don’t know how she does it, so that the glass jar doesn’t burn or explode (having had negative experiences trying this). I could imagine doing this by placing the jar close to, or right above (but not touching) a wood stove, for extended heat. After the resins are mostly dissolved, strain your oil... then it’s ready to use!


Kiva Rose reminds us that, “When harvesting, it’s important to realize that resin circulates through the body of conifers, and helps to seal off any injury to the tree from insect infestation or microbial invasion. Thus, in order to avoid further harm to a tree, we need to be careful to harvest resin where it has dripped down the body of the tree or fallen on the ground, rather than harvesting directly from the wound.”



1:5 95% resin tincture (Kiva Rose)

Add small amounts to food, such as shortbread, to add flavor. A powerful expectorant, use in small quantities in formulas, similar to how you’d use Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha). Kiva will sometimes add it to her cough formulae.


Note that the resin is not water soluble, and will likely come out of solution if added to formulas with greater water content. Anti-microbial, useful in mouth washes. Because of the resinous nature of the medicine, I would refrain from using internally, unless absolutely necessary.


Perfume base

Infuse the resin into a high quality oil, such as jojoba. Or, use a tincture as a base. It helps to preserve the perfume, while adding its own woodsy grounding aromatics.



All pine nuts are edible, but many are difficult to harvest. Pinus edulis and P. monophylla are harvested and eaten for their pinon nuts, rich in polyunsaturated oils, protein, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and carotenes. They are considered warm and sweet, tonifying yin, and boosting the circulation, in Chinese medicine. Brill says, “Store the cones in a dry places, so they release their seeds. Roasting the dry cones facilitates seed removal. Shell the nuts and use them raw or roasted... the high oil content makes shelled pine quite perishable, so refrigerate or freeze them, or use them soon.” Wind, a man I met living mostly primitively in the desert southwest, enjoys pine nuts as one of his primary food sources. He harvests a bunch, and lightly roasts them, then lets them dry in the sun for a day. He then stores them in earthen containers that keep them cool and dry. They last over the winter. He will sometimes grind them into flour, or just eat them directly. They are absolutely delicious.


Spring is the best time to harvest fresh leaf buds for food, but needles can be used in food and beverages all through the year, as a flavoring agent. (Rose)


Brill doesn’t like the taste of pine inner bark, pollen cones, or fresh shoots, though they are all “edible.” Pine inner bark is full of starches, sugars, vitamins and minerals. Brill suggests eating it only as a survival food, only if absolutely necessary. He recommends boiling it in multiple changes of water to make it more digestible, and to reduce the piney taste.


Brill highly recommends collecting and eating the pollen from the male strobiles. To collect them, just grab a handful of needle bundles with male strobiles, stick them into a paper bag, close the mouth of the bag by tightening your hand over that part, then shake! Collecting enough pollen to eat is quite time-consuming, but the pollen is plentiful when it’s the season, it tastes good and is highly nutritious, and you can combine the pollen with other foods to help bulk it up. I use it as a seasoning, instead of a primary food source.



Pine needles make a tea that’s high in vitamin C and antioxidants. The tea is also mildly diuretic and expectorant.


A decoction of the inner bark mixed with honey is a stronger expectorant, useful after the feverish stage of a chest cold has passed. (Moore)


Livestock were reportedly poisoned by eating ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) and loblolly pine (P. taeda) needles. Those are both western species of pines. Brill suggests only using eastern pines for tea. But, I disagree. I think that dosage is the difference between poison and medicine, and even food and medicine. But, use your own judgment, and follow your taste buds and literal gut feelings. Pine needle tea saved the lives of scurvy-ridden European explorers, through their high vitamin C content. I like to drink it in the winter, especially infused over a woodstove, as the aromatic smells waft through my home, warming and nourishing my being on all levels.


I especially enjoy making pine needle sun tea with my kid students, as pines are readily available in most places, and sun tea is gorgeous and delicious. If it’s a cloudy day, then pine needle tea made over the fire is also a favorite.


Flower essence

The Bach flower essence of Scots pine (P. sylvestris) enhances self acceptance through self forgiveness. It helps one move forward, despite past mistakes. It’s indicated for melancholic obsession with past events, overly blaming or guilting oneself, and paralysis due to excessive self criticism.


Pine bark syrup

Brill suggests making and using a cough syrup of the pine bark. (See Moore’s directives above, in regards to this). Fill a jar with pine bark and hot water. Let steep for a few hours (I would prefer to use a decoction). Add 3/4 C alcohol per 1 C water (decoction or infusion). Let sit for a day, then strain out the bark. Add 1/2-1 C honey. You can also add cherry bark, sassafras roots, etc.



The pine resin makes a marvelous glue. At a wilderness camp I worked at in Utah, we called it “poo glue.” We’d mix together equal parts pine resin, dried cow dung, and charcoal. First, you melt down the pine resin over a small warm fire in a tin can. Then, you mix in the powderized cow dung and charcoal. Finally, you immediately apply your poo glue to whatever it is that you want to glue together. It dries quickly, and is very strong. We used the poo glue to glue sharpened stones onto sticks, which we used instead of knives (yes, sexy cave woman and man style). The poo glue is strong enough to keep the stones on the sticks, even as we used them for knives, hammers, etc. I said “equal parts” of the resin, dung, and charcoal... but really, you’ll have to experiment with proportions. If it’s too much resin, then the glue will be too brittle. If it’s too much dung or charcoal, then it won’t stick together.


General uses, listed by author



He mostly uses Pinus tabulaeformis and P. Sylvetris. Oil of pine used as an external treatment for local relief of rheumatism, sciatica, chronic bronchitis, cough, pneumonia, and nephritis.



Pine needle essential oil: external use (liniment, creme, salve) for upper respiratory inflammation. Internally used via steam inhalation for the same.


Buds: (dried, of P. sylvestris) internal use as a tea for upper respiratory inflammations, such as the smoon cold, or as a diaphoretic hot tea. Externally used as a liniment or salve for minor neuralgic pains.



Internal use of leaves are mildly antiseptic, and may be used for arthritic and rheumatic problems. Essential oils of P. sylvestris leaves may be taken for asthma, respiratory infections, and as a carminative. Essential oil of the seeds have diuretic and respiratory-stimulant properites. Seeds used for bronchitis, tuberculosis, and bladder infections. Decoction of seeds may be applied to suppress excessive vaginal discharge.


Historical Usage

Pines were important timber trees. The Greeks most preferentially used mountain pines, such as the Austrian Pine (P. nigra), for boat and house building. The lodgepole pine (P. contorta) was thus named, for the Blackfoot, Dakota, Montana, Paiute, Cheyenne, and Thompson tribes made their tipi frames from its wood.


The Blackfoot make “story sticks” from the lodgepole pine wood, which elders give to their children as rewards for doing small errands or chores. The sticks are notched with the “stories” of these deeds. The more notches, the better!


The Hopi apply pinyon pine resin to their forehead as protection from sorcery. The Navajo used pinyon needles as a ceremonial medicine for their War Dances, and the resin as body paint.


The Kawaiisu hang a baby boy’s outgrown cradle in a Ponderosa pine, so that he will grow strong, like the tree.


Taoist hermits and monks living in the high deep mountains of China are purported to eat very little, but their diet includes pine nuts. These nuts are said to bestow eternal life. Pine nuts have been found buried in Egyptian coffins.


It’s a tree often used in burials. Viking chiefs were buried in their dragon ships made of pine. Scottish clan chiefs and warriors liked to be buried under pines. Most of the wall-panels of the royal burial chamber of the “Midas Mound” complex at Phrygia (from 8th century BCE) were made of pine.


When the Romans occupied Israel, they liked to use the Jerusalem pine (P. halapensis) for many things, including for crucifixions. It’s said that Jesus Christ was crucified on this Pine.


Mythology and Magic

The Greeks associate Pine with the god, Pan. Pines are associated with life force, vitality, death, and resurrection. Many old pine trees in Greece are dedicated to Pan, with a small shrine or altar next to it, sometimes with a small sacred fire.


In Phrygian myth, Attis, the god of vegetation, dies in self-sacrifice. His goddess mother, Cybele, transforms him into a pine tree at his death. The yearly Festival of Attis takes place at the Spring Equinox, when a decorated pine is festively carried into the village, and ancient fertility cult celebrations ensue.


In Greek and Roman legend, Dionysus gave Icarus information regarding how to make wine. Icarus was murdered, and buried under a pine tree. Afterwards, pines were associated with Dionysus and Bacchus, the god of wine.


In Breton legend, Merlin climbed the Pine of Barenton (“sacred grove of Bel”), where he received a profound revelation, and never returned to the mortal world.


Pairs and Triplets

- Pinus (1 oz), Capsicum (1 dram), Myrica (4 oz), Zingiber (4 oz), Zanthoxylum (1 dram): composition powder (Cook)

- Pinus (2 oz), Lobelia 1, Nepeta 2, Zingiber (4 drams powder to 3 pints water): enema for hypertension, intestinal obstruction, neurasthenia (Priest)

- Pinus, Prunus, Sassafras, Aralia racemosa: drying expectorant (Clymer)

- The inner bark is decocted with dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and angelica for rheumatoid arthritis. Also used with clematis, acanthopanax, quince, and mulberry branches. (Tierra)


Cautions and Contraindications

Frequent use of the bark or needle tea may irritate the kidneys. (Moore)


Personal Experience



I took a bath last night in a day-long infusion and decoction of P. ponderosa branches, needles, and male strobiles. I always feel relaxed and happy when taking a bath, so am unsure about the effects of the bath itself. The pine scent was so deliciously strong, that I felt as if I had just climbed a pine tree, and had resin all over my body. After emerging from the bath, I noted a slightly resinous feeling to my body. The strong decoction and infusion had resins and oils in a thin layer on the surface of the potion. I think that it coated my body. It felt protective, yet also mildly sticky. It is a similar feeling to wearing a “chaparral oil jacket.” In the morning, I feel decadent, with a slight smell of Pine still on my skin and in my hair, which complements my natural eau de femme.



Two friends gave me two different salves that contain pine resin in it. One is strongly resinous. It is sticky and uncomfortable. I would only use it if I absolutely needed to. The content of resin is very high in that salve, in proportion to oil and beeswax. I applied it to a splinter, that was deep in the palm of my hand. The next day, the splinter still sat in my palm, but the swelling had decreased. The resinous salve seemed to have sealed the splinter into my hand smoothly and painlessly. This is contrary to what 7song and Kiva Rose say, in regards to using pine resin as a drawing agent. Perhaps I didn’t put on enough of it?


The second salve is less resinous and sticky, but still strongly pine scented. I like to use this one for bug bites, as it helps to reduce swelling and itching, creating a lightly protective layer over my bites, and making them less temptingly scratchable. It feels warming, a counter-irritant circulatory stimulant. When I apply it to my wrist that experiences chronic dull achey pain, I feel a nice penetrating yet soothing heat that is maintained for half the day, and helps to reduce the cold, damp, pain that I experience there.



I infused pine needles, along with other wild herbs, into my kombucha’s second batch of brewing. As soon as I put in the pine needles, the kombucha bubbled and fizzed, as if it were literally jumping for joy. After a few days, I sampled the infusion. The taste of the pine is delicious (I just put in a few needles). I could feel my digestive enzymes churning with more ecstatic aliveness, after drinking it. Slight pulse increase, increase of core heat emanating out to extremities. Astringes mucous membranes slightly (more with a stronger infusion). An initial heady feeling, then gradually sinking, and eventually deeply grounding.


Overall Experience

I associate Pines with mountains. Growing up, I relished when we went hiking. The higher we went, the more Pines there seemed to be. I love the rough texture of their bark, the silence in their forests, with the soft piney carpet underfoot. I love the scent of their needles, and playing with their cones. We’d collect pine cones, and line them up in order from tallest to smallest, and create family stories. We’d stockpile cones, and chuck them at each other. We’d peel apart the cones one scale at a time, “He loves me, he loves me not... he loves me!” The scales would then turn into little mandalas, or little creatures that had names, or little fairy glens that we created with love, on the mysterious universe of the forest floor.


Pines are so easy to climb, if they haven’t grown too tall. Their branches spread widely and plentifully, and are easy to climb up into, and go high above the Earth. It’s important to stick close to the tree trunk, as the fresh branches tend to break easily. I love sitting up in a Pine and observing the surrounding landscape and skyscape. I feel the bending of the tree with the wind, and can imagine the xylem and phloem, carrying nutrients up and down through the tree.


I don’t use Pines much for chronic conditions. They are more useful as an acute medicine, an easily available resource, if you happen to be where they live. I like to carry around a ball of pine resin with me for the reasons listed above (under “Uses”), and for chewing gum, sticking glue, and aromatic comfort. I love Pine as pleasure medicine, through their aromatic resins, in my perfumes and incenses. I feel like a forest queen, whenever I anoint myself with Pine-infused perfumes. The incense brings me back into the forest with all its mysteries, wherever I am in the world.




Forest Chai

(Proportions listed in parts. Adjust, as delighteth thee)


First, decoct for 10 minutes:

- Reishi or Chaga (2)

- Ginger (fresh, 0.5)

- Cardamon (a few pods)

- Cinnamon (a few sticks)


Then, add the below ingredients. Turn off heat, and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes:

- Pine needles (2)

- Rose hips (0.5)

- Nettles (0.5)

- Orange peel (small handful)

- Nutmeg (a pinch or two of powder)

- Cacao (1 tsp powder, per cup of chai)

- Cayenne (a pinch or two)


Strain out the herbal material (save it! You can make more dilute batches, later). Then, add:

- Vanilla (1 tsp extract)

- Heated coconut milk (or other fatty milky yumminess, to taste)

- Rose honey (or other herbally-infused heart-delighting sweetness, to taste)


Enjoy with a candle (or bonfire), a friend (or group), and some chocolate (or likewise decadence).



Let’s indulge. Drink as you wish. Especially if it’s the cold winter, and your heart is dark and sunken. Don’t drink it everyday. It might be too drying, and over-consumption of pine needles might damage your kidneys. I’d drink this once a week tops. Or, you can modulate the recipe, adjusting it to suit your personal needs and constitution. Take it like a ceremony. Set your space, invite the right people, and enjoy it slowly. Inhale the scents of the forest chai, allowing your eyes to gently close, imagining all the plants that went into your brew, and where they came from. As you enjoy the first sip, hold that taste in your mouth, savoring the initial sensorial awakenings, noticing your body’s responses. Then, swallow. Imagine all the forest entering your body, permeating your being, enveloping your senses. Enjoy.



First Aid Forest Salve

- Chaparral infused-oil (Larrea tridentata) (1)

- Poplar bud infused-oil (Populus spp.) (1)

- Pine resin infused-oil (Pinus spp.) (1)

- Black birch infused-oil (Betula lenta) or Willow infused-oil (Salix spp.) (0.5)



Use this anti-inflammatory antiseptic salve as needed for acute cuts, scrapes, bug bites, bruises, etc. See action formula below, for more on why. Not for deep cuts. Clean a deeper cut well, before application, as this salve may seal the wound quickly. You can add some wintergreen essential oil, if you wish to modulate the heating nature of the Salve.



Sacred Earth Oil

- Pine resin infused-oil

- Myrrh EO

- Frankincense EO

- Sandalwood EO

- Osha EO

- Palo santo EO

- Sagebrush EO

- Ylang ylang EO

(In a Jojoba or Almond oil base, with some vitamin E to help preservation)


Play around with proportions, as desired. A little goes a long way. Put only a few drops of essential oil (EO) into your mix, at a time. Go slow. Mix well. Let sit overnight. Smell. You can always add, you can never subtract. Go slow. Anoint yourself. Smell yourself. See how your body aroma interacts with the oil’s scent. Enjoy the play, until you feel finished, until it smells just right. Then, enjoy your personalized Sacred Earth Oil blend.



Anoint yourself with this oil during ceremonies, or whenever you desire to reconnect with the energies of sacred Earthy medicines.


Witchilly yours,



Resources Cited

Herbal Vade Mecum, Skenderi (pg. 296-298)

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Chevallier (pg. 248-249)

Planetary Herbology, Tierra (pg. 236-237, 279, 414)

Herbal Formulation in the Physiomedicalist Tradition, Paul Bergner

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, Michael Moore (pg. 195-197)

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants, “Wildman” Steve Brill (pg. 217-219)

Botany in a Day, Tom Elpel (pg. 46-47)

Pine Pitch Salve, Kiva Rose (http://bearmedicineherbals.com/pine-pitch-salve.html)

Winter Conifer Resins, Kiva Rose (http://mountainroseblog.com/forest-winter-conifer-resins-healing-pleasure/)

Incense, Kiva Rose (http://bearmedicineherbals.com/incense.html)

The Meaning of Trees, Fred Hageneder (pg. 146-149)