My Christian friends have all taken down their trees, garlands, wreaths, and all that wonderful greenery of the Christmas season. Its not my holiday but I dearly love the smell. That smell, of course, is from the evergreen’s terpenes like limonene and pinene which all the cannabis advocates will tell you is medicinal – a little Christmas cheer.
I prefer my terpenes in the form of Spruce Beer, which is also medicinal. When we say spruce beer is medicinal, its not just folklore. Spruce is rich in monoterpenes that have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, mucolytic therapeutic effects. Spruce is also antiseptic and expectorant and therefore is ideally used for many respiratory issues. It is a good remedy for many lung ailments such as asthma and bronchitis.
Of course, when it comes to Spruce Beer, it’s the treatment of scurvy that is most famous. One of the first documented uses of indigenous medicine in North America was the cure of Jacques Cartier’s crew from a scurvy in the winter of 1536. At Stadaconna, now Quebec City, Cartier’s crew was cured from scurvy with a decoction of the bark from an evergreen tree. The tree, identified as “Annedda“, became known as the “tree of life” or “arbre de vie” because of its remarkable curative effects. In the winter, scurvy was a common prevalent disease due to the lack of food containing ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This simple decoction of evergreen needles and stems results in a tea that contains about 500 mg of vitamin C per liter, enough to treat scurvy in most adults.
So, its winter. Its dark and cold. What better than a little spruce beer to cheer everyone up? My new tradition is that I am going to brew a keg of Valley Forge Spruce Beer on my Birthday. It will not just keep you from contracting scurvy (not a big threat in modern America if you eat your vegetables like your mother taught you…) but it will relieve some of the aches and pains of getting older. So, if you find yourself free on Saturday afternoon, are in Dresher Pennsylvania, and are willing to embrace the cold for the promise of a little beer left over from last week’s Cannonball Tavern, stop by. I will be sitting out back tending the brewery and enjoying a homebrew and running a modern brewery.