Pine needle tea is not an effective treatment for thrombosis that can follow vaccinations

It has not been proven that the ingestion of wild pine needle tea prevents the formation of blood clots


You have sent us an article through the email in which the alleged benefits of wild pine needle tea is claimed as an effective treatment against the side effects of the covid-19 vaccine; specifically against blood clots and abnormal menstrual cycles. It is also claimed that its intake prevents "inappropriate replication and modification of RNA and DNA", which would supposedly occur after receiving a vaccine. All these alleged properties are FALSE. It has not been proven that the ingestion of wild pine needle tea prevents the formation of blood clots, nor is it true that it prevents the modification of DNA or RNA in our cells, as this is not an effect of the vials, as we have already explained

"What we are interested in [pine needle tea] is in its inhibitory effects on the clotting cascade that causes microclots, strokes and abnormal menstrual cycles. And also its effects against inappropriate replication and modification of RNA and DNA."

According to the author of the text, whose origin is unknown, these alleged anticoagulant properties are linked to the presence of shikimic acid, a compound used in anti-flu drugs and found in wild pine needles: 'A study published in Research Gate confirms that shikimic acid provides antiplatelet activity, which means it helps to stop formation of blood clots'.

First, Research Gate is not a scientific journal, but a social network of researchers where scientific articles are shared, although without necessarily assessing its scientific rigour. It is like claiming that an article has been published on Facebook. Moreover, it is not possible to find the study to which the author refers, as it is not linked in his text either. 

An anti-flu drug

Shikimic acid is most famous for being a key element in the industrial synthesis of the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu), which fights influenza. A decade ago, researchers at the University of Calgary (Canada) discovered that shikimic acid could be extracted from pine needles, but it had previously been known to be present in other bacteria and plants, such as the North American liquid amber tree. 

After several studies carried out to this respect by different research groups, it has been concluded that the highest concentrations of shikimic acid are found in the pods of the Chinese star anise plant (Illicium verum) and wild star anise (Illicium anisatum L), which grow in the mountainous areas of southern China. 

Without scientific evidence

"Some studies suggest that shikimic acid could have other pharmaceutical uses, such as reducing platelet aggregation (a key process in the formation of thrombi)," Adelaida Sarukhan, immunologist and scientific writer at the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal in Catalan) in Barcelona, told Verificat, such as this one carried out with rats, or this one on a sedentary human population. However, she adds, "the concentrations of this compound in pine needle tea are much lower than those used in these experiments, and for the moment there are no clinical trials demonstrating a benefit of this compound in patients with thrombosis", she concludes. 

For the moment, no studies have been published in PubMed, the world's largest repository of medical articles owned by the US National Library of Medicine, on how this compound influences the development of covid-19 or the adverse effects of vaccines, nor on how pine needle tea influences them. 

Neither have been described to date, as the author of the email points out, a regulatory effect of shikimic acid or pine needle tea on the menstrual cycle of women, who have reported in recent months suffering changes in both their duration and intensity after receiving the vaccine.

The thrombi, extremely rare side effects

It should be remembered that thrombosis events following viral vector vaccines are very rare — between 1 and 10 cases per million for AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson vaccines— and that effective products for their treatment are already available in the clinic: "Although this type of thrombosis is potentially lethal, these cases can be successfully treated if identified early," Sarukhan points out. 

In the specific case of vaccine-associated thrombocytopenic thrombosis (VITT), these are formed by the generation of antibodies that recognise PF4, a factor secreted by platelets, and the activation of platelets, "similar to what happens with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT)," the immunologist points out. 

Therefore, to treat them, "immunoglobulins are usually administered intravenously (to block platelet activation by anti-PF4 antibodies) and anticoagulants (preferably non-heparinic)", which, according to the expert, "have been shown to be effective in treating the rare VITT cases".