My youngest child and I usually begin and end our day with a walk around our property. It has added some structure to our days together, and it’s a really lovely and enjoyable way to have some time together. What I love is that it gives me the opportunity to look deeper into our land and discover new things. Having spent the majority of my life in Sonoma County, Ca, I am familiar with most of the plants that can be foraged along those paths and in the wild. Having moved here to a place I’m not so familiar with, it has offered me the opportunity to learn and discover even more.
Over the last few weeks I’ve watched as our great pines have started to show their Spring growth. We have a Coulter Pine that has enormous beautiful Pinecones. And we have a Foxtail pine that drops lovely smaller pinecones by the hundreds. Spring brings the development of the tiny male cones that contain the pollen. You’ll notice them budding at the ends of the branches and bunches of pine needles. You may notice yellow smoke-like billows on windy days, or a fine layer of yellow dust on your windshield. These are all clues that the tiny cones are ready for harvesting.
There are several ways to go about collecting the pollen, but the easiest way that I’ve found is to hold a container, whether it is a plastic bag or a jar, close to the tiny cones and pop them off with as little agitation as possible. This will ensure that the majority of the pollen makes it home with you. And I don’t mean on your self. Anticipate that you will come away covered in pollen no matter how careful you are. It’s unavoidable. Another helpful tip would be to make sure that you wear a mask or bandana over your mouth and nose so that you can avoid inhaling as little as possible. (If you are prone to seasonal allergies, this might not be an activity for you!)
This task can be time consuming, but if you are up for it you can get into a rhythm and collect a good amount in an hour or so.
Now that you know the how, lets talk about the why.
Pine pollen has been collected and used for thousands of years to treat many different ailments and conditions, especially in Chinese medicine. Why do I put weight on Chinese medicine? Well, it’s been in practice for thousands of years…it must hold some weight as far as treating human conditions. And the fact that it is still being studied and practiced today adds to it’s weight in gold.
Some of the conditions that have been treated with Pine pollen are
slowing aging, reducing fatigue, boosting testosterone,
treating a variety of conditions, including colds, constipation, and prostate disease
Pine pollen has the following nutrients:
- fatty acids
- minerals, such as calcium and magnesium
- vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin E
- The phytoandrogens in pine pollen are believed to help lift mood and increase feelings of enthusiasm. What’s more, pine pollen contains phenylalanine, a natural antidepressant that stimulates dopamine levels in the brain.
All this said, there are a variety of ways that you can incorporate it into your diet. You can make some baked goods, by adding the pollen to the dry ingredients. To get a good pollen flavor, you’d have to use quite a bit, but you can still benefit from even a little added to some cookie dough! A great way that I’ve used it is by adding a tsp to a smoothy.
It’s definitely worth it to dive deeply into this great natural food to discover more of it’s benefits. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send me a message!