Pinus sylvestris, more commonly known as Scots pine, is a tall evergreen native to Britain where it was long ago the main species in the Great Forest of Caledon, covering much of Scotland. Now the Scots pine is grown worldwide and is cultivated commercially in several countries, including Austria, the countries of Scandinavia and the United States. Scots pine belongs to the family Pinaceae. There are other varieties of pine that are cultivated for their oils, for example long- leaf pine and dwarf pine, but Scots pine is the one most commonly used in aromatherapy.
In herbal medicine, young pine shoots were used in bathing to treat several complaints, including rheumatism, poor circulation, skin problems and nervous fatigue. They were also used in steam inhalation for a variety of respiratory disorders. Pine was much appreciated for its insecticidal properties and was used around the house to repel parasites.
The essential oil is obtained from the needles of the tree by the process of dry distillation. It is colorless generally but can be tinged with yellow. The oil has a strong, clean, balsamic smell. The fragrance of pine oil makes it a strong favorite in the production of many soaps and other bath products. It is also used extensively as an ingredient in household cleaning products and disinfectants as well as in insect repellents.
Therapeutically, oil of pine is versatile and quite a safe oil for home use. Its effects are refreshing and stimulating. It is particularly useful in the treatment of many respiratory ailments, such as bronchitis, influenza, coughs, colds and also asthma. It is an effective expectorant and is also antiseptic, antiviral and bactericidal. It can be used to treat respiratory tract infections either by massage or in inhalation. Steam inhalation is particularly beneficial as the steam helps to loosen excess mucus in the airways and unblock the sinuses.
Pine oil is valuable in the treatment of urinary tract infections, particularly when used in baths or sitz baths. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties combat infection while the patient’s spirits are soothed by the refreshing fragrance.
Hot compresses of pine and massage with essential oils both work well to relieve the aches and pains of disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Pine oil also benefits poor circulation. It is a good oil to use in the treatment of post-illness fatigue or exhaustion brought on by stress, replacing tension with relaxation and fatigue with refreshment.
Pine oil used in a room spray, vaporizer or diffuser will disinfect the air, creating a fresh and healthy atmosphere.
Suitable methods of use
- Skin care
Pine oil is generally safe to use. It is nontoxic and generally nonirritant, provided that it is used in dilutions of less than 2 per cent. A small minority of people may become sensitized. Avoid using pine on people who already have allergic skin conditions. Warning: Some therapists recommend that you avoid using essential oil of pine during the first three months of pregnancy.