Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Alpha-pinene, beta-myrcene, beta-pinene, beta-sitosterol, bishomo-pinolenic acid (7,11,14-20:3), (-)-bornyl acetate, broadleaf Korean pine, broadleaved Korean pine, C18H30O2, C20 elongation products, C20 fatty acids, C20 non-methylene-interrupted trienoic acid, camphene, caryophyllene, coniferonic acid (5,9,12,15-18:4), cupin superfamily proteins, daucosterol, dehydroabietic acid, delta5 desaturase, delta-5,9,12-18:3, delta5,11,14/20:3, delta-5-desaturase, delta-5-desaturation, delta-5-UBIFA, delta-5-unsaturated bis-methylene-interrupted fatty acids (delta-5-UBIFAs), delta-5-unsaturated polymethylene-interrupted fatty acids (delta-5-UPIFAs), delta-5-UPIFA, diterpenoid acids, diterpenoids, diterpenols, eicosatrienoic acid (ETrA, 7,11,14-20:3), essential oils, free fatty acids, gum turpentines, Gymnospermae (group), gymnosperms, hydroxyabietic acid, isolongifolene, koraiol, Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis Siebold & Zucc.), Korean pine nut oil, Korean pine seed oil, lambertianic acid, limonene, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, monounsaturated fats, NMIFA, non-methylene-interrupted fatty acids (NMIFAs), octadecatrienoic acid, oleic acid, oleoresin, omega-6 fatty acids, phenolic terpenoids, Pinaceae (family), pine cone essential oil, pine kernel, pine seed oil, pinecone seeds, pinion, PinnoThin™, pinolenic acid (cis-5,cis-9,cis-12-octadecatrienoic acid, all-cis-5,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid, piñon, Pinus koraiensis, Pinus korazenszis, polyunsaturated fats, procyanidins, resin, sandaracopimaric acid, sciadonic acid (5,11,14-20:3), seed fatty acids, seed storage proteins, sesquiterpene alcohol, taxoleic acid (delta-5,9-18:2), terpenes, terpenoids, trans-fatty acids, trienoic acids, triglycerides, unsaturated dietary fats, vicilin-type 7S seed storage protein.

Background

  • Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) is a hardy evergreen tree with edible seeds, commonly called pine nuts or pine kernels, which are often used as an ingredient in pesto or cooking oils. Several parts of the Korean pine plant have been used medicinally, including the leaves, roots, bark, stems, and resin. The principal active ingredient is thought to be pinolenic acid. Pinolenic acid is not to be confused with columbinic acid found in columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) seed oil.

  • In traditional Chinese medicine, Korean pine has been used for its cholesterol-lowering and appetite-suppressing effects. Additional studies are needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of its long-term use.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Appetite suppressant

Early research suggests that Korean pine nut oil decreases food intake and feelings of hunger. Additional long-term research in this area is needed.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Allergic disorders, angina (chest pain), angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth), antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiperspirant, antitumor, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), autoimmune disorders, blood clots, blood thinner (viscosity), body fat reducer, cancer, cerebral ischemia (insufficient blood flow and oxygen to brain), cervical cancer, deafness, deodorant, dermatitis, diabetes, digestive aid, eye disorders (swelling of the cornea), gastrointestinal disorders, hair growth stimulant, hair loss (prevention), heart disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV (medication side effects), hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids), inflammatory conditions, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), metabolic enhancement, nutritional deficiencies (fatty acid deficiency), senile dementia, skin disorders, stamina enhancer, weight loss/obesity.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For appetite suppression, single doses of 2-3 grams of PinnoThin™ pine nut free fatty acid (FFA) oil and 2-6 grams of PinnoThin™ pine nut triglyceride (TG) oil have been taken by mouth.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no safe or effective dose for Korean pine in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), its constituents, or members of the Pinus genus or Pinaceae family. Pine seeds contain major food allergens. Severe acute allergy, angioedema (swelling under the skin), systemic hypotension (whole-body low blood pressure), shock, systemic allergic reactions, acute anaphylaxis (rapid-onset life-threatening allergic reactions), and heart attack have been reported. Cross-reactivity, sensitivity, and other reactions have been reported in individuals prone to allergies and in individuals with allergies to Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort or common wormwood), almonds, grass pollen, peanuts, olive pollen, pine pollen, or pine resin.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Information on the long-term safety and efficacy of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) is lacking. The major adverse reactions due to Korean pine nut are related to allergies and hypersensitivities. Severe reactions such as shock and heart attack due to allergy to pine nut have been reported.

  • Use cautiously in individuals prone to allergies, in nonallergic children, in pregnant or breastfeeding women, or in high amounts.

  • Korean pine may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Korean pine may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.

  • Korean pine may lower lipid levels. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower lipid levels.

  • Avoid use in unsupervised children with other existing nut allergies.

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), its constituents, or members of the Pinus genus or Pinaceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Use cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available safety information. In nonallergic women, Korean pine nuts are likely safe when taken in amounts typically found in foods.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Korean pine may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Korean pine may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

  • Korean pine may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, lipid-lowering agents, and weight loss agents (such as agents similar to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Korean pine may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Gingko biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

  • Korean pine may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.

  • Korean pine may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, lipid-lowering herbs and supplements, and weight loss herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Cai Q, Zhang D, Liu ZL, et al. Chromosomal localization of 5S and 18S rDNA in five species of subgenus Strobus and their implications for genome evolution of Pinus. Ann Bot 2006;97(5):715-722. View Abstract
  2. Choi DS, Jin HO, Lee CH, et al. Effect of soil acidification on the growth of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) seedlings in a granite-derived forest soil. Environ Sci 2005;12(1):33-47. View Abstract
  3. Choi DS, Kayama M, Jin HO, et al. Growth and photosynthetic responses of two pine species (Pinus koraiensis and Pinus rigida) in a polluted industrial region in Korea. Environ Pollut 2006;139(3):421-432. View Abstract
  4. Hughes GM, Boyland EJ, Williams NJ, et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008;7:6. View Abstract
  5. Ibanez MD, Lombardero M, San Ireneo MM, et al. Anaphylaxis induced by pine nuts in two young girls. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2003;14(4):317-319. View Abstract
  6. Kim KD, Lee EJ. Potential tree species for use in the restoration of unsanitary landfills. Environ Manage 2005;36(1):1-14. View Abstract
  7. Lee JH, Yang HY, Lee HS, et al. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of essential oil from cones of Pinus koraiensis. J Microbiol Biotechnol 2008;18(3):497-502. View Abstract
  8. Lee JW, Lee KW, Lee SW, et al. Selective increase in pinolenic acid (all-cis-5,9,12-18:3) in Korean pine nut oil by crystallization and its effect on LDL-receptor activity. Lipids 2004;39(4):383-387. View Abstract
  9. Li K, Li Q, Li J, et al. Antitumor activity of the procyanidins from Pinus koraiensis bark on mice bearing U14 cervical cancer. Yakugaku Zasshi 2007;127(7):1145-1151. View Abstract
  10. Pasman WJ, Heimerikx J, Rubingh CM, et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis 2008;7:10. View Abstract
  11. Rossi G. A case of severe allergy to pine-nut. Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;39(10):344-345. View Abstract
  12. Sugano M, Ikeda I, Wakamatsu K, et al. Influence of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis)-seed oil containing cis-5,cis-9,cis-12-octadecatrienoic acid on polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism, eicosanoid production and blood pressure of rats. Br J Nutr 1994;72(5):775-783. View Abstract
  13. van de Scheur MR, Bruynzeel DP. Acute anaphylaxis after pine nut skin testing. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2004;92(1):93. View Abstract
  14. Wang M, Hao Z, Ji L, et al. [Effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations on photosynthesis light response characteristics of three coniferous tree species seedlings]. Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao 2002;13(6):646-650. View Abstract
  15. Wu JL, Wang M, Lin F, et al. [Effects of precipitation and interspecific competition on Quercus mongolica and pinus koraiensis seedlings growth]. Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao 2009;20(2):235-240. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.