Clear, regenerate, and start over with the aid of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Scots Pine essential oil is distilled from the needles of Pinus sylvestris, the world’s most widespread conifer after Juniperus communis. Its range spans Europe, Asia and was introduced to North America by the Europeans. Commonly known as Scots or Scotch pine, it is the national tree of Scotland. This ancient, prolific and adaptable gymnosperm of the Pinaceae family is notably grown and distilled in France, Bosnia and Herzegovina for its volatile essence.
Hardy and sun loving, P. sylvestris is a pioneer species. It puts down roots in less forgiving places where its evergreen leaves and nut bearing cones provide shelter and nourishment (pine nuts) for much fauna and its more sensitive plant cousins. When injured, the noble tree produces a resin that may be rectified into the solvent, turpentine. If the resin is untouched and hardens on the tree it transforms into amber. The incredible gifts from pines (e.g., P. sylvestris, P.strobus, P. edulis) and other noble conifers (e.g., Tsuga Canadensis) led indigenous peoples of the Northeastern United States to recognize conifers as “friends of spring.”
P. sylvestris is an ancient long-lived species: a tree may live up to 300 years—where its leaves may continuously gift us with its precious essential oil. This tree lives in slow motion, quietly bearing witness with patience, fortitude and humility whilst continually offering nourishing seeds, protection to others from abiotic stress, and medicine from its essence, resin and wood.
It is a resilient, giving soul of the forest, often overlooked for the showier trees and plants used in aromatherapy.
Statement about Scots Pine essential oil:
Scots pine essential oil offers up several qualities of which many a human is in great need: humbleness, fortitude and patience. It asks for little but provides a foundation of supportive space: for clearing, regenerating and starting over. This translates into breathing space for the lungs, to disinfecting the air, to clearing space in the mind-body, thus allowing for relaxation and regeneration.
Scots pine essential oil has an affinity to: The lymphatic system (decongesting), musculoskeletal system (warming, muscle & joint aches and pains), respiratory system (cleansing, expands the breath, decongesting & expectorating: excellent for wet, drippy conditions) and the nervous system (HPG (hypothalamus/pituitary/gonad) and adrenals (tonic, calming, clearing, fortifying, energizing).
Cleaning surfaces and the air: Its abundance of monoterpenes makes it an amazing broad-spectrum antimicrobial, hence why pine is often used in cleaning & disinfecting.
Chemistry Highlights: Scots pine essential oil is rich in in monoterpenes (α-pinene and β-pinene) and supported by small amount of sesquiterpenes.
Is Scots Pine Essential Oil Safe?
P. sylvestris is generally recognized as safe. However, it is a known skin sensitizer when oxidized due to is rich monoterpene content. Avoid old or oxidized essential oils — but don’t throw those away — use them to clean with. Store monoterpene-rich oils in the refrigerator and keep air/head-space, in the bottle, to a minimum to slow oxidation.
Blending with Scots Pine Essential Oil
Pinus sylvestris leaps off a scent strip with a penetrative burst of fresh and cooling air. It penetrates the mouth, touching the back of the nose and throat with a cool, drying sensation. The taste-sensation first has terpenic-ammonia bite, which quickly fades to a subtle, woodsy-balsamic flavor.
All the while it elevates the mind and has an upward pull, nudging you to look up at the trees and see how your breath mingles with theirs.
The immediate dry-down takes you from a cooling walk through the wooded pines into a warm, dry log-cabin where you settle into a soft blanket by a crackling fire. Here you ease into the patient, fortifying arms of the ancient woods. Taking in slow-deep breathes you may notice that a slight, constant smile played upon your lips all the while.
Scots pine essential oil blends well with many other oils, just as the tree gets along with other flora and protects much fauna. Consider blending with other complementary monoterpene-rich oils (e.g., conifers and citrus); also look to sesquiterpene-rich oils to help hold and round-out its ephemeral components: other conifers (Pinus ssp., Abies ssp., Tsuga ssp., Cupressus sempervirens, Juniperus communis), the citrus family (e.g., Citrus limon), Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara leaves), Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Sandalwood (Santalum album), Benzoin (Styrax tonkinensis), Myrrh (Commiphora molmol), Inula (Inula graveolens), Ylang ylang (Canaga odorata), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
Creating Wellness Products with Scots Pine
Aromatic Shower Discs
Shower discs are an easy and economical way to bring aromatherapy to your shower experience. Essential oils high in monoterpenes and 1,8 cineole may support breathing space and have cleansing, invigorating action on the mind-body.
What you need:
- Non-reactive mixing bowl such as glass or ceramic
- 1 part water to 4 parts baking soda (example):
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups baking soda
- Essential oils of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), Eucalyptus radiata (Eucalpytus radiata) and Laurel (Laurus nobilis).
- A mold. (I find silicone to be the easiest to work with, either ice cube trays or small baking cups.)
How to make:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Note: as an alternative to using the oven, place paste mixture into molds and set aside for 12-24 hours until each disc is completely dry.
- Combine baking soda and water in a mixing bowl and combine into a paste.
- Spoon the paste into the molds and smooth the tops.
- Place molds in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the disks from the oven and allow them to cool completely. The tablets will continue drying as they cool.
- Now add the essential oils:
Note: do NOT add the essential oils to the wet paste and bake as the volatile oils will evaporate.
a. For every disc, use 8 drops Scots pine, 1 drop Eucalyptus radiata and 1 drop Myrtle (you may opt to double the number of drops per tablet.)
b1. Option 1: Add the essential oils to each of the cooled “disks” and store them in an airtight container, OR
b2. Option 2: Store the cooled “disks” in an airtight container and add essential oils to each disc as needed.
How to use: Use one disc per shower. Place the EO infused disk on the shower floor so it gets wet but not in the immediate blast of shower stream as you do not want the disc to immediately wash away! Also, consider using these as shoe fresheners by putting one in each shoe.
Refreshing & Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer
This hand sanitizer is a luxurious, soothing way to bring gentle, disinfecting action to self-care. It goes on silky-smooth and readily absorbs into the skin. Aloe jelly is penetrating, hydrating and anti-inflammatory. These hydrosols bring additional hydration and gentle anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties. Alcohol is a fantastic antimicrobial.
What you need to make 4, 1 ounce containers:
- 1 ounce PET bottles with caps
- Measuring cups/beakers/gradated cylinders
- Optional: hand mixer with whisk attachment or a hand whisk
- Optional: syringe or injector to squirt product into squeeze containers
- 1/2 oz. (12 ml) vodka, rectified spirits or high proof alcohol
- 2/3 oz. (18 ml) hydrosols of your choice (e.g., 1/3 oz./9 ml Rosmarinus officinalis ct. verbenone & 1/3 oz./9 ml Mentha x piperita)
- 3 oz. (86 ml) Aloe vera jelly
- 45 drops Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
- 20 drops Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica)
- 8 drops Thyme ct. linalool (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool)
How to make:
- Measure out the essential oils into a small measuring cup or beaker and mix well, set aside.
- Measure out the aloe, alcohol and hydrosols into a small bowl or measuring cup large enough to fit the ingredients and whisk.
- Combine the essential oils into the aloe mixture to fully incorporate.
- Dispense the gel mixture into the PET bottles, affix cap and label appropriately.
How to use: Shake and use as desired!
Direct Application for Endocrine Support
Scots Pine is known to support the adrenals and the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis. Use this blend to support your neuro-endocrine system when feeling depleted and need help replenishing your vital energy.
What you need:
- 5ml bottle with orifice reducer and cap
- 15 drops Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
- 10 drops Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
- 5 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album)
How to make: combine essential oils into the bottle and affix the reducer and cap. Label appropriately.
How to use:
- Direct palm inhalation: apply 1-3 drops of the blend onto the palm of your hand then rub your hands vigorously together. Cup your hands and take time, at least one minute, to breathe in the aromatic molecules.
- Frictions: apply up to 6 drops of the undiluted blend directly onto the skin, specifically on the adrenal/kidney area. Rub vigorously to help the oils penetrate the skin. Use morning and evening (2x/day) during times of stress and fatigue.
- Note on dermal safety: as a general rule, essential oils should be diluted when applied to the skin. Frictions and direct palm inhalations are indicated for times of fatigue and general depletion—exceptions to the rule. Also, the essential oils in this blend are not known sensitizers when un-oxidized and are rather gentle in nature.
Written by: Amy Anthony
(Aromatic Studies Instructor)
Amy Anthony B.A, is a certified Aromatherapist with a private practice in Manhattan, NY. Her focus is on customized aromatherapy and education: she consults with clients and teaches workshops at the NYIOA and around the NY metro area. Amy also enjoys formulating and devising delivery methods that encourage the safe, practical use of aromatherapy—like fizzing bath balls, shower bars and sleep mists.
Amy has been a gardener since the age of 5 and has continually found ways to connect with plants since moving to NYC in 1999. Her knowledge of plants brings a holistic, plant-based approach to her teaching and practice of aromatherapy. Amy is also a certified master composter, has volunteered at Saint George’s Common Table since 2012 and is a trained doula. More can be found about her aromatherapy practice at http://nycaroma.com.