Eastern White Pine

Herbs from my homestead apothecary.

The sun hides it’s face today behind the grey that has temporarily taken over the sky. It is a November day in the middle of April. A small set back for the warmth I can feel coming. Beating beneath my feet when I walk across the still dreary grass… beating almost like bird wings, the earth preparing to explode into flowers and warmth. A few flowers have already surfaced, but you can feel the rest waiting impatiently for their turn to shine pushing up through the ground glowing in their own way, like stars in the sky push through the darkness as tiny beacons of light.

Making Tea

In a few hours, I will be going to get my first vaccine for this terrible virus that has killed over 500 thousand people thus far. it has been a long year. We are homesteaders, we like having the choice about engaging with society, so we can do so on our own terms. However, we don’t hate society and find that a great many wonderful things can be found out in it. But the climate science has been clear for a lot of years… Still, I had thought we had a bit more time… Pandemics are a predicted part of climate change. Part of the gradual extinction of all life. There will likely be many more events like the one those of us who are surviving Covid, will face in our life time. I wish this wasn’t the case, but science is a wonderful tool that offers us a great deal of truth.

We try to live very naturally. We try to eat food that is untreated with chemicals, that doesn’t contribute to climate change or contributes in as small a way as we can manage… We are also believers in the idea that there is a time and a place for everything. Yes, our gardens are organic. Yes so too are the eggs and animal products we consume. And yes, we try to avoid over the counter medications and antibiotics, which have been shown through science to be over used to the detriment of those taking them in that they gradually stop working. But as I said, we respect science, this life style only works properly through utilization of science. We do vaccinate because the proof is in. Vaccination prevents illness. And if we are sick we can’t do what we must around here to keep ourselves afloat. So we vaccinate, and we do use antibiotics and even over the counter medications rarely. Our first choice, is always to reach for nature’s medicine. I love herbs for that purpose. And like the vast majority of homesteaders I have taken the time to become pretty aware and informed about them and how to use them. I am a fervent believer in the eastern view, that what we put into our bodies can fortify them. And fortified bodies break down far less. So this is one way we try to be healthy. When we become sick we reach first for herbs in most cases, and only later if the illness is getting worse and not better, we reach for the western medicine. And before all of that we vaccinate ourselves. Today, I get vaccinated. Truth be told I am not looking forward to it. I suffer from ptsd in medical situations as the result of a childhood accident involving a car. Still, I will go and get vaccinated.

Water and herbs in a pot ready for boiling then straining into a cup.

Before going though, I will fortify my body with a lot of vitamin C. We lost an eastern white pine in a storm at the cusp of early spring and the end of winter. Now it lays like a corpse in the yard, a source of great healing, we harvest from it the pine needles connected to small twigs and put them in a jar to bring into the house. The white pine, is like an older soldier of the woods, carrying many useful things through the planet we have turned into a war zone for our survival. I take from the fallen tree what it no longer needs, respectfully and thank it kindly. Then I bring my collection in the house, label it and set it in the apothecary for right before I go get vaccinated. Then, I mix it with rose hips, a little burdock, and dried blueberries, I throw a couple cinnamon sticks in the mix, cover with water and set to boil on the stove. I take the heat off, and let it sit to cool, then I drink it with a little bit of honey.

Eastern white pine has several uses. Including as one of the best cough medications available. It is the basis for Tamiflu. It is high in vitamin C, and is fabulous for the circulatory system.  To name just a few of it’s uses. Rose hips, are also super high in vitamin C, and can be used with white pine as a cough syrup when boiled together and then mixed with large amounts of honey to create a syrup. It can also simply be used as tea. Rose hips have been used to treat several forms of arthritis, scurvy, to boost the immune system, for skin related issues, as well as weight loss. Burdock, is a wonderful body cleanser and fortifier, a strengthener. While blueberries, are high in nutrients. They are full of antioxidants, they help protect against aging and cancer, help with cholesterol issues, high in fiber, they may even help prevent heart disease, and they also support the brain and memory, it is possible they even help prevent diabetes, to name a few things they are good for. Cinnamon, like blueberries, is full of antioxidants, it is also an anti inflamatory which means it may impact pain levels in the body in some small way at least. Many natural anti inflamatories are also used for pain management. It impacts blood sugar levels and has a strong anti diabetic effect, helps fight fungal and bacterial infections and a lot more… So, in choosing these herbs I prepare my body to be vaccinated for a virus with the effects of covid, to the best of my abilities really.  Does this mean nothing can or will go wrong? No of course not. But this means I have really done all I can with nature as my friend to prevent stuff going wrong and to hopefully shorten any side effects that many are having mild fevers and mild illness.

All this being said, one can even abuse nature’s gifts. There are of course side effects from over use of even these substances. But most of these are pretty safe unless you are allergic to one of them if you use a reasonable quantity in a reasonable time frame it is unlikely anything negative will happen. Just always remember a little can go a long way. And everyone’s body is different as is their body’s needs. This is simply how I am preparing. What I do is right for me. I don’t pretend it is right for anyone else. Always discuss with your doctor anything you plan to consume before consuming it.

Eastern pine is a very common tree around this area. That is just part of how NE rolls actually, covered in eastern pine trees. It is best to take from dead trees, trees fallen in storms, from the ground around the tree it’s dead waste product, as we need our trees alive and well to cut the carbon in our air. For me, this tree was quite the stroke of good luck.

Thank you for joining me on this little herbal adventure.
I hope you too are able to get a vaccination appointment if you want one.
I encourage you dear reader, to vaccinate as it is truly important to do for your long term health and in order to be rid of this terrible virus that has claimed so many.
Amanda of Wildflower Farm

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