I discovered a new essential oil recently: Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana). In this article we’ll learn more about it and why it makes a good addition to your arsenal of oils. The first time I took a whiff of Jack Pine, I was reminded of old wooden furniture and wooden toys. This oil has a strong woody scent to it, a bit heavier than Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris). It has a nostalgic quality to it, IMO.
Jack Pine is native primarily to Canada, growing east of the Rocky Mountains from the Northwestern Territories to Nova Scotia, and in the far northern and northeastern parts of the United States. This tree is also known as grey pine and scrub pine. (1)
Jack Pine is an unusual essential oil in that its constituents differ from other species of pine. Most notably, hexanal, cis-3-hexanol, bornyl acetate, myrtenyl acetate, and terpinyl acetate are the predominant compounds present. This combination gives this oil a fresh-cut grass scent with sweet fruity notes not typically occurring in other pine oils. As with other pine oils, Jack Pine, when inhaled, provides an opening feeling to the chest, and this oil has refreshing and mood-uplifting properties. (2)
In addition to its inhalation characteristics, Jack Pine is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. This oil is used for treating respiratory and circulatory disorders when diffused and for muscle and tissue damage when used in massage. (3)
I’ve mentioned pine essential oil as a useful ingredient in cleaning products, however, Jack Pine is a bit more costly than Scotch Pine oil. Plant Therapy sells its Jack Pine for $19.95 per 10-ml bottle. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend this oil in cleaning products. You’d be better off with Scots Pine (a/k/a Pine Scotch). Plant Therapy sells 30 ml of Scots Pine for $13.95. Jack Pine is better diffused for respiratory conditions or applied topically with a carrier oil for massage.
While we’re on the subject of pine essential oils, I’ll introduce a few other species. I’ve mentioned Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) above. It has a fresh, sweet-green woody scent, supports respiratory health, and when added to a carrier oil, it is warming and soothing to tired muscles and can help support circulation. It is gentle enough for use on children over the age of two. (4)
Another common conifer essential oil is Pinus strobus, typically known as white pine, eastern white pine, northern white pine, and soft pine. This tree occurs from Newfoundland, Canada west through the Great Lakes region to southeastern Manitoba and Minnesota, United States, and south along the Appalachian Mountains. (5)
White pine essential oil is great for respiratory support, often used to reduce congestion from colds or the flu. It can also support sleep when the body is achy and tired and working to recover. White Pine is a powerful analgesic, especially when combined with lemongrass and Norway pine (below). Blend white pine with other conifer oils such as Norway pine, White fir, and Balsam fir to relieve muscular and rheumatic pain. (6)
Yet another conifer is Black Pine (Pinus nigra). Black pine is native to Bulgaria, and it contains some of the same healing benefits of traditional pine, but has a scent that is deeper and crisper. Black pine oil is effective at alleviating colds, flu, chest infections, coughs, sore throats, asthma and bronchitis. It offers stress relief with its ability to alleviate anxiety. This oil is used to alleviate rheumatism or arthritis, reduce aches and pains, and promote good health in muscles and joints. The glandular system and urinary tract benefit from Black pine oil, which is known to help clear bladder and kidney infections as well as promote healing in cuts and sores. It improves circulation and even has the ability to repel fleas and lice. (7)
One item of caution: many species of pine essential oils contain phenols, which provide “warming” properties, but can also irritate the skin when undiluted (NEAT) or used over a prolonged period. Pregnant women should consult a physician if considering using oils of this kind.
Another species is Norway Pine (Pinus resinosa), also known as Red Pine. This is a great oil for colds and congestion. It has an antispasmodic effect, great for reducing coughs. Norway pine is useful for relieving pain, and as an immune and adrenal gland tonic, this oil helps you stay healthy during times of stress. It is traditionally used to soothe respiratory tract infections and increase circulation in the legs, which can reduce leg fatigue. (8)
Finally, I’ll discuss Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa). This one is special because the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona, where I was born, is home to the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world. (9) Ponderosa Pine is also known as bull pine, blackjack pine, or western yellow-pine. It is native to the western United States and Canada, and the most widely distributed pine species in North America. It’s also the official state tree of Montana. (10)
Not very many companies sell Ponderosa Pine essential oil, but a Google search reveals a select number of retail sellers, such as Aromatics International, Stillpoint Aromatics in Sedona, Arizona, and a number of sellers on Etsy. Personally, I would only purchase essential oils directly from a company website or brick-and-mortar store.
Ponderosa pine essential oil is a respiratory decongestant, and it is also used as a muscle anti-inflammatory and for relieving pain. The distilled essential oil smells woody and piney with a hint of citrus. (11)
Now you can honestly say you know Jack Pine. This oil, as well as the many other subspecies of pine essential oils, are a good addition to your collection. They offer benefits ranging from respiratory relief to alleviating pain, and circulatory support. They are also good ingredients for cleaning products. If you are pregnant or nursing, please consult your physician prior to using any pine essential oil.
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Also, coming this summer on Amazon is my paperback book “Essential Oils For Bros: Male-Oriented Aromatherapy.”
Featured image: By Chris M (Jack Pine Barren) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Second image: By Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, USA – This image is Image Number 5350031 at Forestry Images, a source for forest health, natural resources and silviculture images operated by The Bugwood Network at the University of Georgia and the USDA Forest Service., CC BY 3.0 us, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5308108
Third image: By Chris M (Beaver Pond) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Fourth image (Black Pine): By Alexey Klyukin from Simferopol, Ukraine (IMG_7546) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Fifth image (Norway Pine): By timmenzies on Flickr (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
(1) Jack pine
(5) Pinus Strobus
(6) White Pine
(10) Pinus ponderosa