Trees used to make Anti-inflammatory Home Remedies
- Scotch pine / Pinus sylvestris / Family: Pinaceae
- Juniper / Juniperus communis / Family: Cupressaceae
- Virginia cedarwood / Juniperus virginia / Family: Cupressaceae
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA, LMT, RYT
Trees standing serene; they bring to us the feeling of comfort and a connection with Mother Earth, as we delight under their glorious canopies, take in the fresh aroma of their needles, cones, berries, flowers, resins, and bark, and somehow have an instinctual knowledge that they possess the powers to heal and bring great vitality. Worldwide studies of traditional home remedy medicines have documented many stories of people using tree extracts as herbal remedies. Various Pinaceous and Cupressus species, including pine, juniper, and cedarwood, have been used to treat wounds and external inflammation for decades, and even centuries. Pine tar was used by the ancient Sumerians to treat skin infections. Juniper berries were crushed and applied to wounds to reduce infection. In addition, Seminole Indians used Virginia cedarwood to treat rheumatism.
Modern studies look to back up the traditional claims of our ancestors who used extracts from various tree species topically on wounds and for inflammation. There have been a few in vivo (animal) and in vitro (in a lab / dish) studies on essential oils and extracts of these plants with impressive results. More research, and human trials are certainly needed. A list of research is listed below.
At home recipe utilizing pine, juniper, and cedarwood tree essential oils
For safe use of essential oils topically, dilute in a carrier oil such as olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter as combined in the recipe below. The recipe is at a 1% dilution. With essential oils, a very small amount goes a long way. Skin patch test and discontinue use with irritation. Avoid with pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Also avoid prolonged use and internal use. Consult Physician when taking with other medications, or if you have additional medical conditions or concerns.
Tree Essential Oil Topical Salve Recipe
- 1 cup of olive oil
- ¼ cup of beeswax
- ¼ cup of shea butter
- 1 Tbsp of Himalayan pink salt
- ½ cup of dried ground oats
- 4 drops of juniper (Juniperus communis) essential oil
- 4 drops of cedarwood (Juniperus virginia) essential oil
- 4 drops of pine (Pinus sylvestris) essential oil
Instructions: In a crock pot, cook the olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter on low until it melts. Then, stir in the pink salt and ground oats. Finally, turn off the heat and stir in the essential oils. Pour immediately into container(s) with sealing lid(s). Wait to seal the lids until cooled. Apply salve topically to affected area. Discontinue use if any irritation occurs.
In vivo and in vitro studies on pine, juniper, and cedarwood
Here are a few of the studies found. More research, and human studies are necessary.
- Essential oil from Juniperus occidentalis and Juniperus virginiana displayed significant wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities in vivo.
- Juniperus procera Hochst, which has been used in traditional Saudi medicine to treat wounds, for rheumatisum, and for gout, was tested in vitro. It showed action against gram positive bacteria, antiradical activity, and xanthine oxidate inhibitory activity; the author indicated that these biological activities show potential for wound healing.
- Oil from the berries of Juniperus oxycedrus and Juniperus phoenicea showed remarkable wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities in vivo.
- The essential oils from the cones of Pinus pinea and Pinus halepensis displayed strong wound healing activity in vivo.
- Absorption and binding to collagen was achieved by Pinus radiata bark extract.
- Pinus sylvestris bark extract inhibited the production of pro-inflammatory mediators.
- Pinus sylvestris showed to contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Juniperus oxycedrus and Juniperus communis displayed remarkable anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities in a mouse paw.
- Juniper extracts reduced rat paw edema.
- Juniperus communis berry essential oil with a main constituent of alpha pinene, demonstrated strong anti-inflammatory activity in vitro on human dermal fibroblasts.
 http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2012.2472 Tumen, I., Süntar, I., Eller, F. J., Keleş, H., & Akkol, E. K. (2013). Topical wound-healing effects and phytochemical composition of heartwood essential oils of Juniperus virginiana L., Juniperus occidentalis Hook., and Juniperus ashei J. Buchholz. Journal of medicinal food, 16(1), 48-55.
 http://www.wjpps.com/download/article/1485859236.pdf Samaha, Ali, Mansi, & Abu-El-Halawa, 2017). From: Samaha, H. A. M., Ali, N. A. A., Mansi, I., & Abu-El-Halawa, R. (2017). Antimicrobial, antiradical and xanthinoxidase inhibitory activities of Juniperus procera plant extracts from Albaha. World J. of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, 6, 232-242.
 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/728281/abs/ Tumen, I., Süntar, I., Keleş, H., & Küpeli Akkol, E. (2011). A therapeutic approach for wound healing by using essential oils of Cupressus and Juniperus species growing in Turkey. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874111008543 Süntar, I., Tumen, I., Ustün, O., Keleş, H., & Akkol, E. K. (2012). Appraisal on the wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities of the essential oils obtained from the cones and needles of Pinus species by in vivo and in vitro experimental models. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 139(2), 533-540.
 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.11.037 Ku, C. S., Sathishkumar, M., & Mun, S. P. (2007). Binding affinity of proanthocyanidin from waste Pinus radiata bark onto proline-rich bovine achilles tendon collagen type I. Chemosphere, 67(8), 1618-1627.
 http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/jf048948q Karonen, M., Hämäläinen, M., Nieminen, R., Klika, K. D., Loponen, J., Ovcharenko, V. V., … & Pihlaja, K. (2004). Phenolic extractives from the bark of Pinus sylvestris L. and their effects on inflammatory mediators nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 52(25), 7532-7540.
 http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/jf504606m Laavola, M., Nieminen, R., Leppänen, T., Eckerman, C., Holmbom, B., & Moilanen, E. (2015). Pinosylvin and monomethylpinosylvin, constituents of an extract from the knot of Pinus sylvestris, reduce inflammatory gene expression and inflammatory responses in vivo. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 63(13), 3445-3453.
 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2009.05.031 Akkol, E. K., Güvenç, A., & Yesilada, E. (2009). A comparative study on the antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of five Juniperus taxa. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 125(2), 330-336.
 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.2650010107/full Mascolo, N., Capasso, F., Menghini, A., & Fasulo, M. P. (1987). Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for anti‐inflammatory activity. Phytotherapy research, 1(1), 28-31.
 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/2331205X.2017.1306200 Han, X., & Parker, T. L. (2017). Anti-inflammatory activity of Juniper (Juniperus communis) berry essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts. Cogent Medicine, 4(1), 1306200.