One of the most common uses for pine needles and spruce tips throughout history has been to soothe sore throats and coughs while also acting as an expectorant (helping the body to thin and remove mucous). The Algonquin in Quebec used decoctions from Pinus strobus to treat cough, breathing disorders, rheumatism, and kidney disorders. Spruce species were used by the Iroquois to treat respiratory ailments and urinary problems, and as antifungal medication.
You’ve likely heard the stories of old-time pirates under Captain Cook drinking spruce tip beer at sea, or Jacques Cartier's crew cured by an Iroquois decoction of pine needles with vitamin C healed from scurvy. But the medicinal use of conifers goes back much further than the 1700s. The Tlingit in Alaska as well as the First Nations & indigenous peoples of Canada, Norway, and Russia, Native American tribes like the Cherokee, Iroquois, Apache, Hopi, Chippewa, all used these evergreens trees for various medicinal, culinary, and practical applications.