Pine cone extract is marketed as a nutritional supplement for immune system support. This use is based a number of scientific studies describing its benefits and mechanisms of action.
Dr. Paul Cheney, M.D., a leading chronic fatigue syndrome specialist, has used pine cone extract with his patients for a number of years and is quoted as saying: "They make a tea from this in Southern Japan and they have significantly reduced cancer rates. It's thought to work at the gene level in lymphocytes, where it turns on IL-12. It also shuts down IL-10 at the gene level, and that causes a shift towards Th1. - Dr. Cheney: Balance the Immune System Th1/Th2
Research has so far shown that pine cone extract may increase resistance to infection and ability to fight off existing infections, while also reducing IgE-mediated allergic reactions and reducing inflammation.
From the available evidence so far it seems that the effects of pine cone extract on immune function stem from its ability to stimulate the production and maturation of dendritic cells. These cells are an important type of 'antigen-presenting cell' which means when they encounter pathogens and other foreign material in the body they display a fragment of it on their surface which tells all the other types of immune cell to attack that invader. A such, dendritic cells can be seen as the generals, controlling the battles against foreign invaders which the immune system undertakes.