242: Pine

The pine tree, although not native to the area, have been used frequently throughout the years by yarb doctors and country herbalists. Pine needles taken as an infusion serve as a cure for coughs and colds, the resin is often used in salves for skin complaints as well as classic “rubdowns” for chest congestion. Also in the Ozark folk medicine cabinet was the much used byproduct of pine, turpentine. This compound was used for everything from cuts and bruises to colds, coughs, and sore throats. While turpentine may have been used by many mountain folks I do not recommend ingesting this toxic liquid today. But, that said, pine needles and resin still serve as great ingredients in many herbal preparations. Here are some examples from folklorists and writers:

Vance Randolph’s Ozark Magic and Folklore:

“Pine needles, steeped in water over night and boiled down with sorghum, make another popular cough remedy…”

“Children in Arkansas are sometimes encouraged to chew the gummy resin melted out of pine wood before the fireplace; I have seen children chewing this stuff by the hour, just as city children chew gum. The parents think that the turpentine in this resin keeps the children free of worms.”

“Charles J. Finger, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, told me of his neighbors who believe that the drops of resin found on pine boards often turn into bedbugs.”

Sherman Lee Pompey’s Granny Gore’s Ozark Folk Medicine:

“Somethin’ else good fer coughs was horehound with pine tar. Take an’ burn your pine knots until the tar gits to runnin’ good, an’ mix with horehound. Stops a cough in a big hurry.”

Kay Carter and Bonnie Krause’s Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks:

“If you burn pine tar, it’ll keep people from getting colds.”

“I can remember when they would call it the croup. It was some type of cough and if you didn’t get over it, you’d choke to death. My mother always put Vicks salve and turpentine and hog jaw grease and pine tar together. She’d soak a cloth in that and warm it and put it on our throat.”

“A long time ago they made cough syrup out of honey and pine tar.”

Eliot Wigginton’s Foxfire One: Home Remedies:

For Asthma – “In one pint of gin, place several pieces of the heartwood of a pine tree. Leave them in the gin until they turn brown. Then take one teaspoonful of the mixture twice a day.”

For Bleeding – “Use pine resin.”

For Chest Congestion – “Apply a mixture of camphor, mutton tallow, soot, pine tar, turpentine, and lard to chest.”

For Colds – “Boil pine needles to make a strong tea.”

Also – “Make a tea by putting some pine top needles and boneset in boiling water. You can sweeten it with honey or syrup.”

Also – “Take a three-pound can of pine twigs and rabbit tobacco. Boil together and strain. Drink some every three hours, taking no more than one full juice glass within a twelve-hour period.”

For Croup – “Get a pine knot, split it up fine, and light it. Hold fat meat over the fire. Take the resin and fat to cure the cough.”

For Chapped Hands – “Rub pine resin on them.”

For Nail Puncture – “Pour pine oil over the wound.”

For Sores – “Make a salve of white pine resin and mutton tallow.”

Also – “Use a salve made from mutton tallow, balm of Gilead buds, and fresh turpentine from pine trees.”

For Sore Throat – “Rub pine oil on your throat.”

For Worms – “Take ‘worm syrup’ which is made by boiling Jerusalem oak and pine root together.”

For a Salve – “Take one cup of pine resin, about one ounce of camphor-phonique, one cup of mutton tallow, and ten to fifteen balm of Gilead buds. Put it all in a frying pan and heat until liquid. Mash the buds until all the juice is out of them. Strain and put into jars and cover. Makes about a pint.”

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