Between every two pine trees, there is a door leading to a new way of life...few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts... -John Muir
Indian Science is about creation, the wisdom of the ages, the love of ancestors and living in nature. Indian Science could be the next big thing for our survival. It is time-tested, of course, going back thousands of years and I believe even more than that. Our First Peoples knew so much, and were able to live well in nature. Here, we can easily study nature because where we live in Tri Lakes we’re intimate with the forests and biodiversity of nature. We are very fortunate to have many Indian culturally modified trees, or CMT, and there are many nations represented here in CMT, even in the same forest.
I have loved finding the CMT in the forest and often go to visit them, taking a forest walk, or forest bathing aka “Shin Rin Yoku” as the Japanese call it. I bring my art students to enjoy and paint there, and for our summer art camps we bring the kids to our ponderosa forests to learn about the local history - both of nature and that of our Native Americans who were here before us. We also learn about our abundant ponderosa pine and the wonders of living near them, and that includes the Indian Science aspects of our pine forests.
I am sure our Native Americans who lived here before us enjoyed their wonderful trees, and in addition to delighting in the beauty, modified them into extraordinary, meaningful, and poetic forms. We have many spectacular CMT sites in our area. They remind us of the rich culture and extraordinary wisdom contained in Indian Science, the knowledge and expertise of the Native Americans that is both a learned and intuitive wisdom through the generations.
Ponderosa pine are some of the oldest Colorado CMT I have found, and appreciating them has become a magnificent pastime. But truth be told, I haven’t been looking elsewhere. Across North America, there are many kinds of trees used for CMT, and many First Nations traditions, ancestry and stories are in the trees by shape and other clues. Meeting as many of them as possible is on my bucket list, to be certain.
Indian Science as a term is new to me in the last decade, but the idea is not new of course to our Native Americans. And the biodiversity wisdom they traditionally held dear is coming back into our lives in powerful ways. More and more people are interested in their health and well-being and going into Nature to restore and replenish their lives, only on weekends for the city slickers, but for us in Tri Lakes, most of us virtually live in the forests.
In the nearly seven million years of our evolvement from our ancestors to us as the current humans, we were 99.9 percent living in a natural environment. Our physical selves are made for a natural environment, and it is apparent that we figured out how to thrive in nature given our long time working at it. Nowadays many people live amid the pressures of city living that takes its toll on the human body, the mind, and well-being in the form of stress and dis-ease.
Shin Rin Yoku, a Japanese phrase meaning “restore oneself in the forest” started out as a Japanese marketing ploy to get more people outdoors and into the Japanese forests, but it has become a cornerstone
in health care and healing in Japanese medicine. They found out what our First Nations traditionally knew: that the forest imbues health to us when we are in it. The studies being done on Shin Rin Yoku, now known and studied worldwide as a forest bath or nature bath, show the powerful physiological and psychological effects of nature.
Surprisingly, while I research the forests, CMT and ponderosa, I am finding lots of tactical intelligence articles on eating pine trees. As I am studying about the edible pines for the health and nutritional qualities, I found out it that since ancient times, people worldwide have been making an herb tea with pine pollen for their health, or just holding it in the mouth, or consuming it mixed in with other things. In Greece, they’ve been making retsina wine for thousands of years. People use pine trees from bottom to top for many, many health reasons. With hundreds of known nutrients for humans, pine pollen alone is a superfood unlike any other, is touted for being a complete protein, and contains over 200 bioactive compounds, including bioavailable androgens such as those that boost testosterone, DHEA, Vitamin D3, and androstenedione, used to increase the production of the hormone testosterone to enhance athletic performance, increase energy, keep red blood cells healthy, enhance recovery and growth from exercise, and increase sexual desire and performance .
If you think of allergies, the ponderosa pollen may come to mind, but while it’s the most visible, our oaks are also blooming away and sending out pollen, and other trees are secretly sending out pollen that are more significant allergens such as birch, cedar and sycamore, but the pine pollen is what we see, and blame it for the big sneeze..
Here in Tri Lakes, that piney gold dust gets all over everything in May and June and people can’t wait to wash this magical golden dust off. Well, let’s hold off that for a moment, as I found out it is very pricey to buy this superfood in some places, likely due to its single spring season and popularity for boosting testosterone and energy levels, as well as its anti-inflammatory qualities. Online, I found some places sell it for $30 for under 2 ounces, and up to $1000.00 for a pound, and they claim it is specially processed to crack open the cell wall. Reportedly, consuming right off the tree just means taking in a bit more to get the nutrient level of the treated one. We can get it for free at home, you know.
Before you go licking the hood of your car, let me tell you how you can get it easily off the trees: carefully place a bag over the flowers and shake the branch. That’s it! Of course, to do this we need many, many flowers to get enough pollen to use. The list of pine pollen benefits is very long, but the ones that stuck out that I noticed over and over in researching it besides the famous boosting of testosterone were:
- Regulate prostate function
- Common cold preventative
- Restore androgen and estrogen balance
- Improve metabolism and regulate weight (safe and toxic-free fat-lowering supplement)
- Nourish the brain
- Dramatically improves your vitality and staminaJanet Sellers is an artist and avid ethno ecologist posing as a jubilant lazy gardener in the Tri Lakes area.
Male pine flowers look a bit like a bunch of tiny bumpy bananas, but they contain a gold rush of superfood nutrition that could save lives in many ways. The pine flowers bloom here in May and June.Photo by Janet Sellers