Ask the Expert: Health

Wild Tree Resin

A bottle of essential oil with fresh spruce branches and resin

We usually do not think of trees as a source of medicine, as we normally turn to herbs and flowers as natural remedies, but a wealth of medicinal potential surrounds us in our coniferous and deciduous forests. Tree resins have long been known and relied upon as medicines since early times and have been used by every ancient culture on earth for thousands of years. They were used as healing remedies and harvested directly from various evergreen trees such as pine, fir and cedar. From 1000BC to 500AD Arabian societies had the monopoly on the tree resin trade and in 24BC the Romans searched for the source of the resins in the Arabian desert but were thwarted by fierce tribes. In modern times this rich source of medicine is ignored by commercial concerns that are trying to block interest in natural cures.

Resins and gums are the lifeblood of trees and are highly specialized complexes full of compounds which impart a wealth of medicinal properties. All resins are made inside the tree by a highly specialized mechanism and are mobilized in response to trauma or injury to the tree. In the case of injury the sticky substance covers the wound and blocks the growth of a wide range of bacteria including E. coli, staph, strep, pseudomonas and clostridium. The resin hardens and forms a scab which also protects the wound from intruders like insects, parasites and fungi, sealing it properly. These resins are also electrically charged by the photons of light that are absorbed from the light of the sun during the process of photosynthesis, thus producing a highly biologically active complex.

Resins are made up of two main components, (volatile and non-volatile substances which are either fat soluble or water soluble) known as terpenes. Lignins which are referred to as gums are the water-soluble components and are valuable as a prebiotic. They are made up of cellulose which resins are not. The fat-soluble compounds are known as resins, both of these substances are mixed together within the tree. The main classes of these compounds are monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes which are volatile and include Beta-Caryophyllene which is an extremely high anti-inflammatory. The di and tri-terpenes are the non-volatile components referred to as gums which will dissolve in water and are unfortunately lost along with complex and sophisticated enzymes during heating, distillation and processing with chemical solvents. These are referred to as gums and can dissolve in water. The full complex of compounds is by far superior as a medicinal powerhouse than trying to separate the individual elements of the whole by such processes. Hence resins have a full complex of substances that are extremely sophisticated medicines in the raw state.

Man portrait suffering cold and flu at home

Resin from the spruce tree was used by northern Algonquin aboriginal tribes who introduced it to the colonists as a cough and cold remedy as well as a cancer treatment when used directly from the tree. It is also effective as a treatment for the urinary system and for kidney or bladder infections. The spruce resin’s most potent therapeutic terpen is boronyl acetate which is a potent anti-inflammatory, a natural sedative and a potent antitumor agent. Research has shown that it has powers upon neurons to stimulate self-repair and induce new nerve cell formation. As soon as spruce resin is heated it loses much of its medicinal capacity as the essential oils are lost and also the terpen portions.

For thousands of years tree resins have been used as healing remedies collected from pines, firs and cedars and used in the raw state. The Greeks used it for lung diseases, gall bladder problems and for kidney stones. During the middle ages it was used as a medicine for respiratory problems and colds and flu. Aboriginal usage was as an anti-inflammatory for arthritic gouts and rheumatism, and also for wounds and burns. Stomach disorders and ulcers respond well as it promotes the production of a healthy gut lining called reepithelialization. Pine resin is very aromatic and extremely sticky containing lignins, terpens, tannins, plant sterols and compounds that are found in aromatic oils. Forest ants use resin to disinfect their colonies, and it is the original active ingredient in Vicks Vapor Rub and is still used to this day. Studies have shown that pine resin oil is able to inhibit a range of tumor cells including leukemia, prostate, breast, stomach, pancreatic and colon cells.

Processing damages pine resin and many manufacturers use heating or solvent methods to extract the wide range of valuable health compounds found in the resin rendering them impotent. Unfortunately processing alters the molecules and they lose their valuable properties. The most effective are those products which allow them to retain the “raw” elements and the integrity of the key biological compounds. This is now possible with specialized techniques which allow the resin to maintain its potency with no depletion of the natural medicines. Hence it is possible to harvest the full complement of biological energy derived from the proton energy absorbed from the sun. Raw pine resin is a cardiac tonic and resembles foxglove (from which digitalis is derived) in its effect on the heart muscle by increasing its ability to pump while preventing cardiac arrhythmia. It is also an anti- spasmodic and combats mucus congestion.

chaga tea mushroom from birch using for healing tea or coffee in folk medicine

One deciduous tree is well known for its medicinal properties, namely the birch tree. It has recently come to the fore because of the chaga mushroom which grows on it. This mushroom feasts on the tree and can eventually kill it. Chaga mushrooms contain substances that are not found in its host, and contains medicinal compounds including high levels of SOD (Superoxide dismutase). This compound alone is potent for preventing age related degeneration. It also contains rare trace minerals which are essential to the body’s internal chemistry. Chaga grows naturally and can take up to twenty years to mature. Unfortunately, there are forms of chaga grown artificially in vats which are not effective and do not contain the properties of the naturally birch grown mushroom. Chaga should only be taken as a tea or as a raw extract. Chaga as a tincture is not recommended as in this form all the important enzymes and the all-important SOD are destroyed.

Tree resins are extremely potent and contain a great arsenal of elements to halt the tide of physical degeneration. Nature has provided us with the wherewithal to harvest health from all her natural medicines. The vibrational energy contained in wild plants and trees in nature resonate with our own internal energy and return the body to its optimal vibration levels. These have been corrupted by toxins, synthetic drugs, and chemicals prevalent in our modern world and assail our bodies every minute of every day. Let us take advantage of all the natural sources of wellness and healing and experience the many benefits which abound in nature.

The book “Natural cures from wild tree resins” by Dr. Cass Ingram has proven the most valuable resource in my research. I highly recommend that you take the time to delve into this well of knowledge and acquaint yourself with a better understanding of this subject of which I have only been able to skim the surface.

Written By: Nathalie Mcneill, Fountain Head Health Store & Cafe, Fergus

Author: LivingSpaces

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