Also known as Prince’s Pine, Love in Winter, and Butter Winter, Pippsissewa is a small, evergreen perennial in the Ericacea family. Although it is an evergreen, it relies on Myco-heterotrophy for most of it’s nutrition – that is, it gets most of it’s food from fungi living in the soil rather than photosynthesis. The leaves of Pippsissewa grow in whorls and are typically lanceolate and leathery, with prominate teeth on the margins. The waxy pink flowers are radial, with 5 petals, typically growing in a nodding, umbel like structure. It has a creeping, white rhizome like rootstock. It is found in drier woods, especially conifer forests, throughout North America with the exception of the lower Midwest, South East, and Northern Canada. Other Varieties are found growing across Europe, Siberia, and Asia. The plant should be harvested when in flower.
Pippsissewa has diuretic, diaphoretic, alterative, and astringent actions, making it helpful for treatment of urinary tract infections and other issues of the bladder, kidneys, and liver. Prolonged use of the leaves as a tea can help dissolve kidney stones. It has similar antimicrobial properties to those of Uva Ursi, but because it has far less tannins, it is easier on the system for prolonged use, making it a good tonic herb and a superior remedy for bladder and urinary issues. A tea or poultice can help treat sores and blisters, however when applied directly to the skin, it can cause blistering and redness.
Traditionally, the Cree used Pippsissewa to treat tuberculosis, and many tribes used Pippsissewa to treat fevers and induce sweating. Extracted, it’s also a flavoring in candy and root beer, as it is quite aromatic and tasty. The leaves can be used in a tea, and in Mexico, the herb is used to prepare Navaitai, an indigenous alcoholic maize beverage.
As a tincture, 2-15 drops, as needed, throughout the day, or as an unsweetened tea, 1 tsp of leaves in 1/2 a cup of water throughout the day.
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