How do you feel when you walk in a pine forest? Chances are that you feel pretty incredible.
From lowering heart rate and blood pressure to boosting our immune system, spending time in the forest is scientifically proven to improve our health. In Japan, this practice is known as forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku.
The reason that forest bathing is so good for you is the various essential oils that the trees emit.
It is the simple practice of spending quiet time relaxing in the presence of trees. The reason that forest bathing is so good for you is the various essential oils that the trees emit. The oils not only protect the trees but also boost our immune systems and make us feel good.
Using pine essential oils at home is one way to bring the forest bathing experience into your home this winter and a beautiful way to practice seasonal aromatic self-care.
Tree of Great Peace
There are a number of varieties of pine essential oil, but my personal favorite is Pinus strobus (White pine).
White pine trees range from western Ontario to the Atlantic provinces and throughout most of north-central and the northeastern United States. White pine is easy to identify. Its leaves or needles occur in bundles of five, 3-5 inches long. The needles are rich in vitamin C and can be used to make tea.
The tree normally grows to 30 meters tall and 100 cm in diameter with a 12-meter crown spread. This species is the tallest tree in eastern Canada, and it is the official arboreal emblem of Ontario.
It is known as the Tree of Great Peace by the Haudenosaunee First Nations of Southern Ontario. The tree plays a major role in the story of how five separate, warring nations, the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, became united. Watch this beautiful video created by the Onondaga Historical Association to learn more about the Tree of Great Peace.
First Nations considered both the white pine resin and needles to have medicinal value. The resin, which has some antiseptic properties, was smeared on wounds as a healing ointment and was boiled up to make a tonic drink. The needles, rich in vitamin C, made a tea that helped prevent and treat scurvy (Virtual Museum Canada, 2005).
White pine essential oil
To use, to smell, and to experience white pine essential oil is to truly connect with over a thousand years of healing practices.
The organic white pine essential oil that I like to use in my aromatherapy practice comes from Quebec. The essential oil is steam distilled from the long, green needles.The scent of white pine is fresh, with a slight terpenic edge at the beginning that fades to a subtle woodsy note.
The therapeutic benefits
White pine essential oil is very rich in monoterpenes, particularly the chemical constituents α-pinene and β-pinene (Aromatics International, 2017). The essential oil helps to support healthy respiratory function. It is a great essential oil to diffuse to improve respiratory health, and it’s an effective airborne deodorizer and purifier.
The essential oil is anti-inflammatory and has an affinity for the musculoskeletal system, warming muscles and relieving minor aches and pain. It’s great to diffuse before bedtime when you are feeling achy and tired from a cold or the flu.
The emotional & energetic benefits
I like to take a morphology approach to blending that is very much inspired by the work of aromatherapist Jade Shutes.
Morphology is a method of intuitively approaching essential oils based upon the different parts of the plant the essential oil comes from and the energetic messages inherent within the particular plant part (Shutes, n.d.).
White pine essential oil is connected to the power of transformation.
The needles of the white pine function within the tree for photosynthesis – the process in which sunlight, water, and C02 are taken in by the pine tree and transformed into food energy for the tree. White pine essential oil is connected to this power of transformation and the scent may encourage and support you in times of change, growth, and transition.
As a by-product of photosynthesis, oxygen is produced and released by the tree. Indeed, white pine essential oil has a natural affinity for the respiratory system. The scent inspires deep, expansive breathing and helps create energetic “breathing space” and peace when we feel stressed.
Pine needle resin also act as a defense against insects and other animals. From an energetic perspective, white pine essential oil can be used to instill confidence, courage and enhance our vitality.
I try to use organic or wild-harvested essential oils whenever possible.
Night time cold/flu blend
- 3 drops of white pine (Pinus strobus)
- 3 drops of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)
Forest meditation blend
- 3 drops white pine (Pinus strobus)
- 3 drops frankincense (Boswellia carterri)
Balance Botanical Fragrance
White pine essential oil is featured in one of my most popular botanical fragrances: BALANCE.
Arbor Day Foundation. (2017). Tree Facts. Retrieved from https://www.arborday.org/trees/treefacts/
Aromatics International. (2017). White Pine. Retrieved from https://www.aromatics.com/products/essential-oils/white-pine
Haudenosaunee Confederacy. (n.d.). Symbols. Retrieved from: http://www.haudenosauneeconfederacy.com/symbols.html
Patterson, N. (n.d.). Great Tree of Peace: The White Pine. Retrieved from http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/1013treeofpeacewhitepine.pdf
Shutes, J. (n.d.). Blending by Morphology (also called: the Doctrine of Signatures). Retrieved from https://aromaticstudies.com/doctrine-of-signatures-and-essential-oils/
Tree Canada. (n.d.). Eastern White Pine. Retrieved from https://treecanada.ca/resources/canadas-arboreal-emblems/eastern-white-pine/
Virtual Museum of Canada. (2005). Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus). Retrieved from http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/plantes-plants/plant_dir/easternwhitepine.php