As winter approaches we can harvest many of the needles, leaves, or fronds from Evergreen trees or shrubs for the purpose of infusing in oil.
Infused oils are prepared by taking fresh plant material and steeping them in a base oil for 6 weeks. There are many methods and approaches to making infused oils, including heating the oil and using dried plant material. However, heating compromises the integrity of the oil and with dried plant material, certain aspects of the plant are lost in the drying process.
Some plants, however, are high in moisture content and do require wilting prior to steeping in oil. This includes comfrey, chickweed, and calendula. Lavender, rose petals, and evergreens can be steeped directly in the base oil because they have a lower moisture content. I like to use olive oil as my base because it is healing to the skin and is the most stable of all oils.
Infused oils are preferred by the herbalist as they extract all of the healing qualities of the plant including the oil-soluble vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, water-distilled essential oils are isolates and do not contain all of the healing qualities of the plants. Because essential oil extracts contain only a component of the plant, which is then highly concentrated, they are similar to pharmaceuticals and can have harmful effects. Infused oils rarely if ever cause any type of concern.
As winter approaches we can harvest many of the needles, leaves, or fronds from Evergreen trees or shrubs for the purpose of infusing in oil. While each of these oils has its own specific healing qualities, one that they all have in common is terpenes. Terpenes are compounds that are responsible for their scent. Terpenes offer antispasmodic qualities and the scent is penetrating. These actions make evergreen-infused oils superb remedies for applying to the chest to relieve congestion. These compounds are also antiseptic and antibacterial, which can prevent dry skin from becoming infected during the winter months as well.
Some of my favorite evergreen trees/shrubs to infuse in oil are:
Juniper (Juniperus sp)
Pine (Pinus sp)
Fir (Abies sp)
Spruce (Picea sp)
and Hemlock (Tsuga sp)
One can harvest these all year long and have them on hand through the winter to help provide relief during the cold and flu season.