Stave off the common cold with a cup of pine needle tea

Battling the common cold through the winter months is easier when you strengthen your immune system. One powerful but often overlooked way you can boost your immunity is with pine needle tea.

As the name infers, this tea is made of pine needles, which are rich in antioxidants. Pine needle is a substance found in pine bark and has been down to stave free radicals and manage oxidative stress.

According to integrative medicine physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., pine needles can restore immune function by “increasing lymphocyte production and regulating cytokine release reducing inflammation.” And apparently, adding hot water boosts the antioxidant effect of pine needles.

How to make pine needle tea: Though you can purchase ready-made pine needle tea, it’s easy to make your own. You can pick your own pine right off the branch if you choose the right tree. According to a USDA Forest Service study, Eastern white pine has an impressive amount of ascorbic acid per gram. Another study touts balsam fir needles (technically a type of pine) for their vitamin C content. In any case, it’s important to ID your pine before gathering it.

Once you have the pine, follow these steps to make an immune-boosting pine needle tea.

  1. Rinse the needles in cold water before steeping and cut the brown scale off that connects the bunch together
  2. Soak the pine in boiling water, steeping until it’s fragrant and all the oils are released.
  3. Feel free to add some honey for added flavor. 
  4. Enjoy!

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