The vitamin tree of Vikings: Can a Christmas tonic change your life?

Old Tjikko, whose name could well belong to an ancient Viking Warrior, is a small tree in Western Sweden. At a mere 4 metres, it’s tiny compared to most trees in the Nordic forests.

However, Old Tjikko hides a big story in its small body. It was born soon after the ice melted in Scandinavia, at the end of last Ice Age. It’s the oldest spruce tree, with roots that are almost 10,000 years old. And Tjikko is not a lone warrior from the prehistoric age — in these same mountains, there are 20 trees over 8,000 years old.

No wonder that in Nordic cultures the spruce is a symbol of life and strength. Needles of spruce have been used by shamans to make the magic potions throughout the centuries.

The spruce had a key role in celebrating the winter solstice, long before the first-ever decorated spruce tree was put up to celebrate Christmas in 1441. And yes, of course, that happened in Estonia.

Looking out at the world from the island of Saaremaa, home to many seafarers, it’s worth mentioning that Captain Cook, who founded Australia, was the first captain to save all of his crew from scurvy by using alcoholic sugar-based spruce beer.

The tips from the needles are quite commonly used in Nordic kitchens to make spruce syrup, and even survival tips suggest that spruce needles can be directly ingested or boiled into a tea to replace large amounts of vitamin C.

The needles of spruce absorb vast amounts of sunshine and, importantly for the Nordic region, not only sunshine but light in general, making the tree stand out in many ways.

It carries dozens of times more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, 40–100 times more chlorophyll than any other plant, and it is more vitamin- and mineral-rich than noni fruits, which have been tagged as the Elixir of Life.

Yet Vitamin C is just one key ingredient in spruce needles: fresh needles carry also Vitamins E and K, carotene, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt.

Throughout history, the spruce has been used to treat a vast array of health problems related to heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, stomach, bladder, breathing, eyes and ears. It is antibacterial, and improves metabolism and blood circulation.

Chlorophyll is important for plants, but what about humans? One may ask. It has been found to be an important factor offering protection against cancer. Chlorophyll also helps your body cleanse elimination systems, such as the bowel, liver and blood, and improving the transport of oxygen throughout your body, among other things.

In the modern beverages industry, the usage of spruce is only in the beginning, only the first followers and copy-cats are putting spruce in their drinks.

The Spruce Community is growing step by step, and hopefully this upcoming holiday season an increasing number of Christmas trees will find a new life in drinks — it's in too many parts of the world a wasted asset which can easily be reused much more widely.

Originally published at https://www.lahhentagge.com on November 22, 2018.

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Editor at Single.Earth, cofounder at Lahhentagge

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