Medicinal plants

Fir as a medicinal plant - effect and application

Fir as a medicinal plant - effect and application

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We know the Christmas tree illuminated at Christmas time. The silver fir (Abies alba), however, provides a lot of healing substances in its branch tips and cones. We use them as bath oil, in cosmetics, in soaps and as a cold balm. New studies show great potential against inflammatory diseases.

Profile of the fir

  • Scientific name: Abies Alba
  • Common names: Silver fir, silver fir, noble fir (Edeldann, Edeltane etc.), smoking fir, fir tree, tannin wood, forest fir, tax fir, cross fir, light tree, mast fir, mast tree, weather fir
  • family: Pine Family (Pinaceae)
  • Parts of plants used: Resin, needles, branch tips (shoots), twigs and bark
  • distribution: Among the trees, the silver fir is the pointer plant for the sub-oceanic mountain area of ​​Europe from the Pyrenees to the Balkans. Their natural distribution is almost identical.
  • application areas: Circulatory disorders, cold, inflammation of the respiratory tract, urinary problems, rheumatic diseases, disinfection, deodorant, relaxation, reducing stress

Abies alba - An overview

  • The fir has been considered a tree with healing abilities in mythology and folk medicine for a very long time.
  • Modern science has proven that silver fir ingredients have an antioxidant, antibacterial and antiseptic effect.
  • Resin, needles, twig tips (shoots), twigs and bark are used. Some of their ingredients coincide.
  • Fir honey offers great potential against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Pine cones, needles and resin - ingredients

Oleum Templini, the oil extracted from the pine cones, contains mainly limes, among other things also borneol - also the fresh shoots. “Strasbourg turpentine” is the name of a balsam made from unspoiled trees. This shines with essential oils, reses, succinic acid, bitter substances and resin acids. The oil extracted from the needles offers monoterpenes, limes, pinene, phellandrene and camphene.

Fir - effects

Fir has an antiseptic and balsamic effect - it promotes expectoration, drives urine and redens the skin. Oil from the needles is effective against cough, including bronchial asthma and whooping cough. Oil extracted from the cones is mainly used in the production of soap and is widespread because of its fragrance. The oil from the branch tips can be used internally against catarrhs ​​in the airways. Externally, it is used for mild muscle pain and nerve pain. Fir resin is an expectorant.

Fir as a medicinal plant - application

We find needle oil in finished medicinal products, as a bath additive or as a cold balm, as an inhalation agent and as an additive to rubbing alcohol. You can make tea from the needles to help cough, runny nose, and other cold symptoms. You can also chew the needles - this promotes blood flow to the gums.

Fir branches and needles for internal use

For tea from the shoots, we let two grams of the same infuse in 100 milliliters of water for about ten minutes and drink a cup twice a day. We also let the young twigs and needles with two grams per 100 milliliters and drink a small cup twice a day against urinary problems and rheumatic diseases.

Attention: Both teas can cause indigestion or diarrhea. You can increase the dose slowly if you notice that you are not having any problems with this.

If you refine a tea made of pine needles with a little lemon juice and honey, firstly you will improve the taste and secondly you will also get additional vitamin C.

External application

Shoots, twigs and needles can be used to activate the blood circulation, they have a disinfectant effect and relieve the smell of sweat. To do this, we let five grams of twigs, shoots and / or needles soak into 100 milliliters of water, soak a cloth with the liquid and place it on the appropriate skin area.

European silver fir - other uses

Fir honey tastes intense. It is known in folk medicine as a remedy for inflammation of the respiratory tract. At least it contains antioxidative and antibacterial substances. A decoction from the boiled fir bark has been and is used as a remedy for kidney diseases. Valid studies on this are pending. A brew from the roots is said to relieve rheumatic pain.

Historically, the pine resin was a kind of chewing gum. It is said to strengthen the gums and prevent tooth loss. The resin contains essential oils, resene, succinic acid, bitter substances and resin acids, and the ingredients contained therein promote blood circulation and have an antiseptic effect, so that the healing resin chewing gum is not superstition.

Fir honey against resistant bacteria?

A new study from Croatia examined the antimicrobial and antioxidative effects of pine honey from the Croatian mountains as a potential alternative to standard antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.

Fir honey has a higher percentage of minerals and vitamins than nectar honey. Its dark color indicates that it is generally better antioxidant than lighter honey types. The flavonoids and phenolic acids are primarily responsible for the antioxidative properties.

Fir honey is therefore one of the foods with plenty of antioxidants that can help to improve the general condition of patients and their immune strength - this is particularly important for people with chronic diseases and diseases with no prospect of healing, such as chronic inflammation and cancer. Fir honey has such potential, even if the mechanisms behind it and the strength of the effects have not yet been sufficiently investigated.

In the study mentioned, the antimicrobial activity against staphylococci and Acinetobacter has now been tested. The results were positive. Strains of both bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics reacted sensitively to the honey samples. The result suggests that the antioxidants in honey suppress free radicals and trigger two steps in reactions. In short: there is strong evidence that Croatian fir honey has therapeutic potential and can serve human health.

Fir bark as a remedy

A study from 2013 examined pine bark, which is usually generated as waste from the wood industry and processed to a maximum of bark mulch. The aim of the study was to find out whether the bark has therapeutic potential. The result was: yes. Further studies would have to follow, which examine exactly how and how strongly fir index indexes act against free radicals - however, it is proven that they work.

European silver fir - organic

Silver firs are evergreen conifers, the straight trunk of which can grow up to 50 meters in height. The branches stand out horizontally. The needles are attached to the left and right of the branches and, with enough water, fir green. The inflorescence is formed by two types of cones: the small male ones are at the outer end of the branches, while the large female ones are upright. We call the female cones fruit. These open when they ripen and let the cover leaves with the seeds fall to the ground.

Where does the silver fir grow?

The silver fir is a common tree in Central and Southern Europe. By nature it is a mountain settler. Without human intervention, fir trees would grow at an altitude of 400 to 2000 meters in Germany, but beech and oak trees in lowland forests.

When do we collect?

We collect fresh shoots (branch tips) in April and May before they close. We can collect branches all year round. Since these are available all year round, we do not have to store them.

The fir in the myth

"Oh fir tree, oh fir tree ..." - the illuminated fir tree for Christmas has a very old tradition that has little to do with Christianity. In ancient Germanic tribes, the fir tree was a sacred tree. The mid-winter tree, which did not lose its green needles even in the cold, was a symbol of life that survives the toughest times and thus of strength and growth. These non-Christians hung one of these winter trees with sacrifices such as fruit and gifts to appease the spirits. These victims were particularly important in the meantime of the winter solstice, because then the world between ghosts and people was considered permeable.

The fir was also heavily mythical as a tree of fire. Our ancestors saw that fir trees burned very easily. Tan comes from the word for fire. In ancient Greece, the fir tree was the tree of the sea god Poseidon, presumably because they built the masts of their ships from the fir trunks.

The Christian healer Hildegard von Bingen believed in the Middle Ages that the fir tree was a sacred tree that protected against evil magic. Places where fir trees grew were such shelters.

Medical effects of the conifer that were documented today were mixed with magical practices: there was a custom of putting a pine seed under the tongue of a deceased so that new life could grow. Fir branches were burned at child birth to drive away evil spirits. The smoke from the branches has a real medicinal effect, and this practice may have developed because the physical condition of the mothers actually strengthened.

The fir tree in ethnomedicine and medical history

The ancient star of the medical history of Europe, Hippocrates, praised the healing power of the fir resin, according to Hildegard von Bingen the resin promoted blood circulation and the healing of external wounds. In modern times, an infusion of pine needles was used as a remedy for scurvy.

Sebastian Kneipp advocated hip baths in pine needle infusions to treat a cold or cystitis. He recommended a potion made of green pine cones to speakers and singers, and generally with hoarseness. Green pine cones boiled in water should help gargle against lung diseases. American Natives used the needles of the local firs for pillows to promote a good night's sleep.


European silver fir is a tree with a lot of medically effective substances that can be used both as a home remedy and as finished medicinal products. Recent studies indicate that the therapeutic potential of Abies alba goes far beyond today's applications. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Hiller, Karl; Melzig, Matthias: Lexicon of medicinal plants and drugs. Volume 1 to K, Spectrum, 2000
  • Georg-August-Universität Göttingen: Abies alba - The silver fir (accessed: January 21, 2020), University of Göttingen
  • Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL): The silver fir (Abies alba) (accessed: January 21, 2020), BMEL
  • Bavarian State Office for Forestry and Forestry (LWF): LWF Knowledge No. 45 - Contributions to the Fir (accessed: January 21, 2020), LWF
  • Vasincu, A .; Creţu, E .; Geangalău, I. et al .: Polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity of an extractive fraction from Abies alba bark, in: Revista medico-chirurgicala a Societatii de Medici si Naturalisti din Iasi, 117 (2): 545-50, 2013, PubMed
  • Broznić, Dalibor; Ratkaj, Ivana et al .: Evaluation of the Antioxidant Capacity, Antimicrobial and Antiproliferative Potential of Fir (Abies alba Mill.) Honeydew Honey Collected from Gorski kotar (Croatia), in: Food Technology and Biotechnology, 56 (4): 533-545 , December 2018, PMC

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