Trees: Just What the Doctor Ordered

At Packer’s Pine, we’re unabashed tree huggers. We celebrate them, and we support efforts to protect and plant them. We also work hard to let people know that they’re more than just generous giants that shade our picnic lunches and support our hammocks.

Sure, trees are linchpins of the great outdoors, but they’re also integral to what’s happening inside our bodies. Trees help keep us healthy and well in many ways. Here are our top 5.

1. They keep your skin healthy.

Skin is the body’s biggest organ and a hard working one, too. Every day, your skin has to face off against the big, bad world. It’s a jungle out there with UV rays, air pollution, and infrared radiation.

There are plenty of skin care products that claim to protect your skin, but many of them have ingredient lists as long as a wine list in Bordeaux. Skin products from trees can protect and rejuvenate your skin nature’s way, with pure, therapeutic ingredients sourced from trees.

Here are a few of our favorite skin-loving ingredients:

  • Tea tree oil. The tea tree is from the swampy southeast coast of Australia, and Aboriginal people relied on it for its antiseptic and healing properties. Tea tree oil is used to heal acne, athlete’s foot, and toenail fungus the natural way.

  • Cinnamon bark. Beyond just providing the spice for our oatmeal and snickerdoodles, cinnamon bark is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties. That makes it the perfect match for wiping out acne and preventing future breakouts.

  • Silver birch oil/extracts. Silver birch trees pack a powerful nutrient punch. The tree is loaded up with biologically active substances like sugars and amino acids that keep wrinkles at bay. It’s also rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that can soothe irritated skin.

  • Pine tar. Run pine wood through a high-heat process known as carbonization, and you end up with something magical: pine tar. Its functions are many; it can be used as a mosquito repellent soap, deep cleanser for skin and hair (that doesn’t deplete precious oils), and a source of natural relief for eczema, psoriasis, inflamed skin, and more. Bonus: you’ll smell as fresh and rugged as an old-growth forest every time you use it. It’s enough to drive a city girl wild.

2. They slow climate change.

Remember learning about photosynthesis in 8th grade biology? Did you care? Probably not. You were thinking of the foxy girl two rows up and all the things you could set on fire with your Bunsen burner.

But you should care now. Here’s why. Carbon dioxide is the villain all around us when it comes to climate change. Trees are the heroes. They absorb the carbon dioxide from the air, reducing the effects of global warming. Without trees, we’d be contending with more widespread drought, destructive storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers.

Aside from the obvious outside-in health effects of climate change (like…say…getting pummeled by a hurricane), climate change affects what happens within our bodies. It can elevate our risk for heart and respiratory disease, make us more prone to foodborne and waterborne disease, and heighten our chances of developing allergies and asthma.

3. They offer a pollution solution.

It’s complicated: fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas, etc.) help us, but they also make us suffer. They give us electricity. They’re the reason we can flick the lights on, take a hot shower, charge our phones, and binge watch “The Mandalorian” whenever we want.

But burning fossil fuels to generate electricity accelerates climate change and releases pollutants that lead to heart attacks, respiratory disease, stroke, and asthma.

Enter trees, which can eat pollutants for breakfast. If they’re planted near areas with heavy fossil fuels (within 100 feet), they can get rid of one of the worst types of pollution (known as particulate matter) and cut down on asthma and heart disease. That’s why there’s a big movement to plant more trees in cities with a lot of people, highways, and industrial activity.

4. They boost our mental health.

Anxiety and depression are rampant in today’s world, and a little tree time can help. We’re not just saying that because we love trees; science agrees with us.

Research from Peter James, an assistant professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that spending time with trees can produce long-term improvements in the incidence of depression and anxiety (in addition to mitigating risks for cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, and cancer).

James said the effect is biggest when people can be around trees regularly, not just on that annual summer camping trip to the Redwoods. He urges policymakers to fund more planting in populated areas so trees can spread their canopies—and their peace—on a broader scale.

5. They get you better soon.

Winter’s coming, and so are the germs. Wash those hands, wipe down your countertops, keep your hands away from your face…and then get ready, because you’re probably going to get a cold or virus anyway.

If you’re the stoic type, congratulations to you, but if you’re prone to the “man cold,” do yourself (and the people around you) a favor, and look to the trees for faster healing.

Here are just a couple of trees that are popular choices for mitigating cold and flu symptoms:

  • Elder trees. These berry-producing trees grow all across America, and people swear by their berries to reduce cold and flu symptoms. There are elderberry cough drops, a syrupy elderberry extract, and elderberry tea. Stock up now so you’re ready.

  • Eucalyptus. Remember when Mom would slather you with Vicks VapoRub when your nose and throat were all plugged up with mucus and phlegm from a cold. It was the consistency of Crisco with a smell so strong it kept everyone away. But, Mom knew it would help you breathe easier. One of the key ingredients in Vicks is eucalyptus. Try pure eucalyptus oil or ointment to fight congestion.

  • Pine. We’re partial to pine and for good reason. Pine oil has been shown to be helpful in soothing headaches and eliminating respiratory congestion. Give your man cold a dose of pine. Less whine, more pine!

We encourage our customers to embrace all the benefits of modern medicine (including the fact that we can now do much more than simply bite on tree limbs to deal with extreme pain). But don’t forget the oldies but goodies. Trees remain one of the best health aids in the book.

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