Could pine needles be good for your health?

5:12 PM, Jan 6, 2011   |    comments
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ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Researchers at the University of Maine are developing a flu medication that may cause you to look at your Christmas tree a little differently.

You may want to think twice before throwing out your Christmas tree. Researchers at the University of Maine are extracting Shikimic acid found in conifer tree needles.

The acid is a key ingredient in the medication Tamiflu.

Tamiflu is one of two drugs used to fight influenza. Scientists can extract about three percent of a pine needles weight in Shikimic acid.

The Maine state tree stores some of the highest amounts of the acid. Other evergreen trees like the ones people use during Christmas also store large amounts.

Researchers say it only takes a handful of needles to get the 100 grams of Shikimic acid needed for one does of Tamiflu.

If the research team can increase productivity they may have a viable flu medication that can be marketed. The largest supply of Shikimic acid is currently being extracted from a plant in China

For now researchers have high hopes for a healthy fight against the flu.


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