Are conifer trees important medicinals?
There are a number of conifer species throughout the world. Conifers are trees or shrubs with needle or scalelike leaves as opposed to broadleaves such as oak, ash or beech.
In the UK there are only three native conifer species. These are Pinus sylvestris (Scot’s Pine), Juniperus communis (common juniper) and Taxus baccata (yew). There are a wide range of introduced and naturalised species. These naturalised conifers seem to have a somewhat tarnished reputation in the UK. Many think they are permanently altering the traditional woodland landscape. In France, as with most of Europe, there are more native conifer species than in the UK.
Whatever your personal feelings about conifers many are majestic beauties.
So are conifer trees important medicinals?
Yes, many are. In the UK the three native conifers have a long history of medicinal usage. Many introduced conifers have documented medicinal uses too. Even better you don’t need to have knowledge of the individual tree species. Simply spending some time in a forest, with many trees, has its own health benefits.
Interestingly the Japanese practice what they term “forest bathing“. Forest bathing is basically relaxing wherever there are trees.
It may sound like another crazy Japanese fad. However, after $4 million on research, science has proven forest bathing lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress and boosts the immune system. These benefits were found to be due to the therapeutic benefits of the volatile oils of the trees i.e. essential oils.
Tree bathing includes various trees, not simply conifers. However, many conifers produce essential oils. Essential oils make it possible to bring a little bit of the forest into your workplace or home even if you live and work in a city. It may not be quite as good as relaxing in a forest but there are still health benefits.
Some popular conifer essential oils…
The following are more popular and well known essential oils from conifer trees. I have written about some of these either individually or within the content of an article or post.
- Abies alba (silver fir)
- Abies balsamea (Canadian balsam)
- Cedrus atlantica (cedarwood)
- Cupressus sempiverens (cypress)
- Juniperus communis (juniper)
- Juniperus oxycedrus (cade)
- Pinus sylvestris (Scot’s pine)
- Picea mariana (black spruce)
- Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir)
There are of course, many other essential oils from trees. All of the above trees, although not all native European species, can be found in Europe.