This month’s article is devoted to the medicinal properties of Siberian pine and its products.
The medicinal properties of Siberian pine (cedars) have been known to folk medicine from ancient times. Modern scientific medicine does not reject them, and they are supported in Christian, Vedic and popular science literature. As well as producing tasty nuts and edible oil, the Siberian pine is also a source of a disinfectant and an anti-scorbutant (against scurvy) that can be obtained from the resin, shoots and needles.
Europeans used Siberian pine products to restore health.
The medicinal and nutritional qualities of this wonder product were known back in the 15th and 16th centuries when merchants brought the nuts and delicacy oil to England, Italy, Norway and other countries. Pine nut milk was widely used in Swiss spas in the 18th century as a very effective treatment for tuberculosis and kidney infections. Pine nut oil is applied to the skin in cases of eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and dryness.
The resin of the Siberian pine has bactericidal properties.
The resin of the Siberian pine was also equally valued in prehistoric times, and it is justifiably called a balm for its ability to heal wounds quickly. Unlike the resins of other types of conifer, the sap of the Siberian pine takes a long time to solidify and does not lose its bactericidal properties; it is still used in medicine to treat sores, skin infections and erosive conditions. During the Second World War a turpentine balsam was made from pine resin. It was an effective treatment for speeding up the recovery of injured troops in hospitals, and saved the lives of many of them.
Siberian pine resin is a product of the living tree, and it is obtained by tapping: a network of shallow (7mm) cuts is made into the trunk while the tree is dormant. The tree has an exceptionally high regenerative ability, and any shallow wounds quickly seal up. This is the basis of modern techniques that allow long-term tapping, over 16–20 years, without harming the species’ survivability and productivity.
Harvesting pine nuts is a job not for light-hearted.
Nut collecting is physically demanding and quite time-consuming work, using primitive equipment to process the cones and obtain the cleaned nuts in the difficult climatic conditions of the Siberian autumn and a lack of roads. In recent years Siberian pine nuts have been in short supply because of the growing market inside the country and the demand from China.