Riverdave Owen

 April 27, 2019


      In the past year I began the practice of chewing pine resin as a means to suppress a persistent low grade winter season cough.  Not following anyone else’s particular advice or prescription, in my walks I occasionally pinched off a small piece of dried resin from a pine tree and began working with it.  I used my teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums to move the resin around while chewing, moistening and holding it in various parts of my mouth - under tongue, in cheek, behind lip and on roof of the mouth.  If I was troubled by a cough, I noticed that my cough would immediately stop and the ticklish impulse triggering it was pacified.  


      After many of hours of experimentation, trial and error my suggestions for undertaking the medicinal practice of chewing pine resin are as follows:  


1 - All that is needed is a chunk of pine resin the size of a pea, easily pinched off from exudate just beneath a tree scar.  Resin gathered from most species of trees in the Pine Family of plants will work, including the genera of Pinus (pine), Abies (fir), Picea (spruce) and Cedrus (Asian and Mediterranean true cedar).


2 - It is best to choose a hardened, crystalized and reddish chunk of resin instead of resin in its sticky white stage.  Sticky white resin gets easily stuck between teeth and on gums and may require an annoying effort to remove.  


3 - When first placing the resin in the mouth, someone not accustomed to foraging wild plants may find the sharp piney taste overpowering.  But after a minute or two of mastication, the intensity diminishes and one is left with a mildly pleasant, clean feeling herbal sensation.  I find it much more appealing than the pasty sugary coating that remains in the mouth when using commercial throat lozenges to suppress a cough.   


 4 - Once I begin to chew the red crystalized resin, it quickly breaks up into smaller sand grain size pieces.  But if I continue to moisten it by moving the tiny grains around my mouth, they begin to adhere together to form a sold mass similar in consistency to commercial chewing gum and thus it becomes easy to work with.  But this process may take up five minutes of working the resin in the mouth.


5 - The end result of mastication will both feel and look like a chewed stick of commercial gum.  The taste will also be similar to that of commercial gum after its sugar has been sucked out and dissipated.  If you remove the pine resin from your mouth at this point, you will notice that it will be lavender in color.


      For me, the cough suppression provided by chewing pine resin lasts from one to two hours.  This is convenient if one needs to be in a social or formal situation where coughing is not an option.  I also have noted that chewing pine resin never actually effected a cure for my cough, but instead, acted only as a suppressant.  The underling cause for a cough must be discovered and addressed by other methods in order to effect a final cure.  In the meantime, chewing pine resin has proven for me to be a valuable natural aid in managing a cough.