Christmas Tree Medicine

Christmas Tree Medicine

Posted by : Mary Wutz   /  

This year I came full circle with fresh-cut Christmas Trees. It went from a beloved family tradition in my younger years to something that stood for everything that was wrong with humans and nature (take, take, take) in my late teens and 20’s, up to this year.

The thing that changed for me had to do with a big perspective shift (and a little web research). This new paradigm looked at fresh-cut organic and wildcrafted Christmas trees as big houseplants and diffusers.

A tree brought indoors functions like an enormous houseplant. It’s like having a living air filter and humidifier in a dry winter home. As it draws water up its trunk, it diffuses moisture out into the room, humidifying the air and also releasing essential oils into the surrounding atmosphere.

This natural humidifier works to moisten dry winter air that for me usually causes dry-cracked skin and sometimes bloody noses. Additionally the volatile essential oils that come from Pine and Fir Trees boost immune function among other things:

Scotch Pine Essential Oil:

Scotch pine essential oil can be used for the treatment of inflammation, allergy, asthma, ulcer, arthritis and fatigue. Scotch pine essential oil also increases the resistance in the human body to bacteria and viruses. The oil of Scotch pine has ability to warm up cold hands and feet.
Pine oil is relieves fatigue – mental, physical and sexual – and neuralgia. Pine oil is a general kidney cleanser, and helps with cystitis, urinary infections and prostate problems.[1]

 

Douglas Fir Essential Oil:

Douglas fir helps to reduce cellulite, promotes mental health, clear sinuses, soothes exhausted nerves, aids communication and acts as an effective painkiller. It can also benefit in severe breathing conditions, infections and problems with the respiratory system.[2]

After this perspective shift in looking at Christmas Trees as medicinal houseplants and all the benefits they provide, I still had concerns about the environmental impact of cutting down approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees just in North America.  Upon further research, I found that, “Luckily, about 93 percent of those trees are recycled through more than 4,000 available recycling programs.” [3]

Christmas trees are recycled into mulch and used in landscaping and gardening or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths and walkways. They can be used for beachfront erosion prevention, lake and river shoreline stabilization, and fish and wildlife habitat.
A single farmed tree absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 throughout its lifetime. With more than 350 million real Christmas trees growing in U.S. tree farms alone, you can imagine the yearly amount of carbon sequestering associated with the trees. Additionally, each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people.[3]

 

After reading about tree recycling and carbon sequestration, I was feeling really positive about the Christmas Tree industry, but I still wondered about pesticides and whether Artificial Christmas Trees were better for the environment given their yearly re-use and assumed longevity. This is what I found:

Today’s artificial trees are typically manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older varieties may contain lead, used as a stabilizer in the manufacturing process.
Despite their PVC contents, artificial trees are nonrecyclable and nonbiodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for centuries after disposal. Artificial trees will last on average five to seven years, meaning you’ll eventually have to dispose of it, and many secondhand stores will not accept them.[4]

 

So, Artificial Trees were definitely out after finding that information, but what about the pesticides used to grow living Christmas Trees?  

Beyond Pesticides states that just 1% of all Christmas trees sold in the U.S. are organic. The also note that, "Pesticides found in conventionally grown Christmas trees are linked to numerous adverse health effects, including cancer, hormonal disruption, neurotoxicity, organ damage, reproductive/birth defects, asthma, and more."[5]

After reading this, I was a little discouraged, but then I found that organic Christmas Trees do exist and there are resources available on where to find them. Additionally, if you are lucky enough to live in a more remote forested area, cutting down your own tree may be the best option of all. Not only do you get some exercise and connect with nature, but you can help steward the land by thinning out smaller trees to allow others to grow to maturity.

After taking everything into account, I've decided that if I'm going to celebrate Christmas with a tree, I'm going to do so with a living organic tree or wildcraft my own Charlie Brown Tree and shift my guilt to gratitude by honoring the tree for the medicine its bringing into my home and heart.

Organic Christmas Tree Finding Resources:

  • Green PromiseMaintains a list of organic Christmas Tree Farms covering many U.S. states.
  • Silvertip Tree Farm: Sustainable farm currently working towards their organic certification, plus will ship a real tree to your home!
  • Local Harvest: Has a list of where to find local, safer tree farms.

 

Article Resources:

  1. https://essentialoilbenefits.org/scotch-pine-essential-oil/
  2. https://essentialoilbenefits.org/douglas-fir-essential-oil/
  3. https://earth911.com/home-garden/real-vs-artificial-christmas-trees/ 
  4. https://earth911.com/home-garden/real-vs-artificial-christmas-trees/ 
  5. https://beyondpesticides.org/index.php

 

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