Pinon (Song Zi Ren)Pinon (Song Zi Ren)

Botanical Name: Western – Pinon edulis, P. cembroides, P. remota, P. monophylla, P. pinea. Eastern – P. koraiensis, P. siberius.

Pinon (Pinon edulis), or the pinon pine, is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. All species of pinon trees produce edible seeds, but only the North American pinon produces seeds large enough to be a major source of food. This tree’s (Pinon edulis) nuts are highly nutritious and were a staple of the Native Americans. The nuts are still enjoyed in pesto sauces, salads, main dishes and as a snack foods. The resin (also called trementina) is sacred and used in healing and religious ceremonies. Species of pine nuts can also be found in, Spain, Korea and China. Pine needles and their essential oils, are also used as a medicine to treat coughs and bronchitis.

Below is an overview of Pinon (Song Zi Ren), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Pinon (Song Zi Ren).

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Western Name: Pinon

Also Known As: Pinyon Pine, Pinion, Stone Pine

Organs/Systems: Digestion, Lungs, Spirit

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Seeds (Nuts) – Nutritious. Needles – Antibacterial, Aromatic, Opens the Sinuses. Calming. Resin (Trementina) – Relaxant, Antibacterial, Aromatic, Opens the Sinuses, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic. Seeds – Nutritious food. Needles – sore throats, colds, flu, bronchitis, calming, opens the sinuses, meditation. Resin (Trementina) – lip balm, relaxant, meditation, skin abrasions, irritated skin.


Pin Yin: Song Zi Ren (Translates as “Pine Nut.”)

Also Known As: Song Ren, Song Zi

Meridians: Liver, Lung, Large Intestine

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Dispels Wind/Moistens the Lungs: dry cough, promotes body fluids. Supports the Stomach/Moistens the Intestines: digestive disorders, gastrointestinal tract disorders, suppresses appetite, peptic ulcers, constipation, gastritis. Tonifies Qi and Jing: improves memory, builds immunity.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

A member of the family Pinaceae, Pinus edulis (edible pine), is found at 3700 and as high as 7000 feet. There are eight different species of true pinon, and over 20 species of all varieties worldwide. There is a band (fascia) at the base of each needle where they join the branch. (Spruce and fir have only single needles attached directly to the branch) A medium sized tree the branches sweep upwards creating bushy, broad, rounded evergreens with short green pine needles. Most pinon pines have multiple needles in each band. Pinus edulis is a two needle pine. Their asymmetrical shape, similar to a bonsai tree, is distinct. They rarely grow more than 20 feet tall.

Pinus edulis is native to the American Southwest including the states of New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. Other variations are native to Mexico and in Europe, the Mediterranean region, especially Spain. Korea and China also have native species of pine nut trees.

Pinon (Song Zi Ren)Parts Most Frequently Used: Seeds (Nuts), Resin (Trementina), Needles, Essential Oil, Bark

Flavors/Temps: Seeds (Nuts) – Sweet, Bitter Aftertaste, Warming. Leaves – Aromatic, Sweet, Slightly Sour, Astringing.

Caution: Considered safe.

History/Folklore: The two-needle pinon (Pinus edulis) is the state tree of New Mexico. The Stone Pine (Pinus pinea) is common in Spain and its pine nuts are identified with Mediterranean cuisine. The North American pinon (Pinus edulis), is thought to have been a food source for the earliest Native Americans. Archaeological evidence suggests the trees have been present and harvested for over 12,000 years or more.

The trees produce abundant crops only every two to seven years, averaging a good crop every four years or so. The Pueblo peoples of New Mexico were able to store the nuts for two to three years in underground pits. High in fat content the seeds were a fundamental aspect of early hunter-gatherer diets.

The new growth needles are high in vitamin C and A and make an aromatic fresh lemony tasting tea. The essential oil made from the needles is excellent for treating respiratory disorders, including coughs, bronchitis, flu, sinusitis, and colds.

A simple honey pine syrup for treating coughs can be made by chopping pine needles in a mortar to release their herbal properties and then adding honey. Store the mixture in an airtight jar in a warm dry place for a few weeks. Strain and enjoy!

The resin (also called trementina) from the trees is used in Native American sacred ceremonies to clear the air, heal, balance energies, provide mental strength and support fertility. It can be combined with other incense resins to promote meditation. Pinon nuts are given as a food offering to Apache girls undergoing the Sunrise Ceremony and pinon resin is used by the Pueblo tribes as protection against witchcraft. The resin can be used in perfumes, incense, soaps and lotions. In its fossilized form resin becomes amber.

Resin is alcohol soluble and can also be made into tinctures, using a 1:5 weight to volume ratio of resin to alcohol. In small amounts this tincture can be added to flavor foods, including breads, cookies or mouthwashes. Resin infused oils can be added to beeswax to make lip balm and healing salves. The resin (trementina) is renowned as a salve to heal all sorts of wounds, including abscesses, abrasions, bruises and inflammation. The resin is an important wilderness survival tool because of its ability to treat wounds and injuries.

Pinon bark has been used as a cast to help stabilize broken bones and heal severe wounds needing to be held in place when sutures were not available.

Pinolenic acid found in pinon nuts is being researched for its ability to release high amounts of cholecystokinin (CCK) an appetite-suppressing hormone that can help with weight loss. It also supports healthy cholesterol levels and may have LDL-lowering properties by enhancing the liver’s LDL uptake.

Key Constituents:

Nuts – Protein, Pinolenic acid, Magnesium, Monounsaturated fat, Antioxidants, Vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K, Manganese, Fiber, Phosphorous, Lecithin. Needles – High in Vitamin C, Monoterpenes (including Pinene and Limonene).

Did you know?

Benefits the Soil

Pinon pine trees are known to influence the soils they grow in by increasing the concentrations of both micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients.


Trementina Resin

Trementina resin, also called Pinon Resin or Pinon Pine Resin, is used by Native American in sacred ceremonies.

Fun fact!


Pinon nuts contain lutein that is known to significantly reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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