Lessons from the Pine Tree - West Wind Hardwood

In these unprecedented times, the world has been brought to its knees. And while you may be sitting by yourself in your home reading my newsletter, we’re all in this together, and the only certain thing we know is that we are not alone.

The West Wind community offers a virtual gathering place for everyone aligned in their common passion for wood and the natural world of forests.  This world is culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

I felt a look into what our natural world offers would be a critical reminder that we will collectively overcome just such crises.  Let’s take the opportunity to appreciate our forests’ healing power.  While many of us are responsibly avoiding unnecessary public travel or self-isolating, listening to recorded bird songs, babbling brooks or rainfall is proven to relax the mind and reduce stress.

Our forests support our physical and mental health, as well as providing clean air, absorbing pollutants, filtering freshwater for wildlife and communities, and helping combat climate change by storing immense amounts of carbon. 

How? In order to protect themselves from insects and other threats, trees release airborne phytochemicals called phytoncides. These phytochemicals have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that help trees and plants fight disease.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – October 2010
All Photos Taken by Jan or Shelley Nielsen

Lesson of the Pine

excerpt from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

From its lofty position above the tops of most other trees, the pine reminded
ancient peoples of the importance of taking the overview, encouraging
objectivity and farsightedness. We are advised to cleanse ourselves of
negativity, neither dwelling on mistakes nor apportioning blame. Pine is a
symbol of the elevated mind and the birth of the spiritual warrior.

Amongst the junipers and pines,
On a dusty red rock gardened slope,
Where the billions of natures’ creatures and I sit;
There, in the pristine silence, I hear all.
I see the bustle of a universe and its creatures
Hithertofore unnoticed by human eye,
Scampering about in a world of their own,
Graciously oblivious to all but the timbers and the slope.
I hear the breath of nature;
Mother Earth inhaling and exhaling her love
For all life.
Her wind whispering in my ear,
Attuned to the echo of the Universe,
Its rhythmic hum pulsating through my being,
I too become one with its vibration,
I am still
I feel the peace of the heaven on this earth
I see that we are all one with another
All intertwined in the fabric of life.
On this slope amongst the junipers and pines.
I know God~Goddess.
by Robert J. Schout

Spirit Lake, “East” Oregon – October 2009

Below is an article written 10-years ago but it is such a timely read today. By the definition I found on Dr. Google, it would sound as if the coronavirus strain is a Type A virus. “A viruses are capable of infecting animals, although it is more common for people to suffer the ailments associated with this type of flu. Wild birds commonly act as hosts for this flu virus. Type A flu virus is constantly changing and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics.”

Tamiflu is an antiviral drug used for Type A and B viruses. The synthesis of Tamiflu requires shikimic acid. Can’t help wondering if shikimic acid has been tested for the COVID 19 vaccine and whether pine trees are factored in this time around.

Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 12:18 AM
Updated Nov 8, 2010 at 7:51 AM
“A little-known raw material used in the most widely used antiviral flu medicine comes from the fruit of trees native to China. It turns out it also comes from pine trees in Maine’s backyard.
Researchers at the University of Maine at Orono say they’ve found a new and relatively easy way to extract shikimic acid — a key ingredient in the drug Tamiflu — from pine tree needles.
Shikimic acid can be removed from the needles of white pine, red pine and other conifer trees simply by boiling the needles in water, said chemistry professor Ray Fort Jr. Additional testing is needed, and it remains to be seen if there’s demand for the product or if the process can be applied commercially in the private sector, he said.
But the extracted acid could be valuable because Tamiflu is the world’s most widely used antiviral drug for treating swine flu, bird flu and seasonal influenza. The major source of shikimic acid now is star anise, an unusual star-shaped fruit that grows on small trees native to China.
Swiss drug giant Roche Holding AG holds the patent on Tamiflu, which is produced by Roche’s manufacturing partners.
If Fort’s research is successful, pine trees could serve as another source of shikimic acid to manufacture Tamiflu while also providing Maine’s forest products industry a new source of revenue. The research has been funded from a variety of sources, including the Maine Technology Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and the university’s chemistry department.
“Our thought is we can probably get shikimic acid a lot cheaper than they’re currently getting it elsewhere because the pine needles are just sitting there,” Fort said. “It may turn out this isn’t economically useful if they are successful in coming up with a large-scale synthesis of their own. That’s the chance you take.”
This isn’t the first attempt at finding alternative sources for shikimic acid.
Five years ago, Biolyse Pharma Corp. in St. Catharines, Ontario, devised a sophisticated chemical process to extract shikimic acid from pine needles. The project came during the avian flu scare in 2005 with the goal of stockpiling the acid in case there was a worldwide pandemic and more Tamiflu had to be manufactured on short notice, said Claude Mercur, whose family owns the company.
When the Canadian government failed to endorse the idea of having Biolyse manufacture Tamiflu in a national emergency, the company contacted Swiss drug giant Roche Holding AG, which holds the patent on Tamiflu, about buying the shikimic acid, Mercur said. But Roche wasn’t interested and Biolyse dropped the project when no other buyers could be found, he said.
Biolyse hasn’t been involved in shikimic acid since, and Mercur is doubtful there is a market for the acid, given the diminished demand for Tamiflu these days. Roche Holding expects 2010 Tamiflu sales to be a little more than $1 billion, down from about $3.3 billion in 2009.
It’s also hard to compete with China on price, he said.
According to various scientific studies, strong demand for Tamiflu in recent years put pressure on the supply of shikimic acid, with a shortage of star anise viewed as a major production problem in producing Tamiflu.
Roche Holding said in an e-mail that it also uses a synthetic version of shikimic acid to lessen its reliance on star anise. The company said it has an ample supply of Tamiflu for the current flu season.
Scientists have known for decades that virtually all plant life contains shikimic acid, Fort said. What hadn’t been so clear is how much of the acid is contained in Maine’s pine trees and how easy or difficult it is to extract.
The latest research has determined that white and red pines — and spruce and tamarack trees to a lesser extent — store enough of the acid to make it worthwhile to extract, Fort said. It’s as easy as boiling the needles in water, like boiling tea in tea bags he said.
Other researchers also are looking at ways to use new sources to make Tamiflu.
In a study published last fall, scientists wrote that growing demand for Tamiflu had put pressure on the supply of shikimic acid.
Fort said he’s aware of other work to come up other sources of shikimic acid.
But he thinks pine needles could be a cheap supply source because they’re so abundant — Maine is the nation’s most heavily forested state with nearly 90 percent of the land covered by trees — and easy to process.”

Social Distancing before it was trendy.
Eastern Oregon – October 2009

A big thank you to our friends who have given us a standing invitation to visit them down south, and often join us on our travels.
Without them, I could never build up my library of photos and experiences that I so often share through this newsletter.
Where would we be without friends!
You’re loved and valued.

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