Birch is a small to medium-sized hardwood tree belonging to the family Betulaceae, and is closely related to the beech/oak family. There are around 60 different species of birch that grow in temperate climate around the world.
Birch is one of the most useful trees, and is called as ‘bhurja‘ in Sanskrit, which means ‘a tree whose bark is used for writing upon’. Medicinal properties of birch have been valued since ancient times, while it’s varieties are used for decor as well.
Useful Parts Of The Birch Tree
Birch buds, bark, leaves, and sap are the useful parts of the birch tree. They possess potential therapeutic properties.
Birch Buds – The buds contain volatile oil which includes camphor-like betulin.
Birch Leaves – The leaves are rich in flavonoids and saponins. They also contain salicylates (like aspirin), and therefore exhibit anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
Birch Sap – The sap contains chemicals that act as a diuretic (any substance that tends to increase the flow of urine). The thin, watery sap alleviates a range of ailments as it contains naturally occurring nutrients such as –
Birch Bark – The bark of a birch tree is rich in betulinol and a glycoside, with promising therapeutic applications.
Health Benefits Of Birch
Listed below are a few medicinal qualities of the birch tree:1
Prevents Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Birch is an excellent tonic and detoxifier mainly working on the urinary system. It acts as a diuretic and by increasing the frequency of urination it helps flush out toxins, waste and excess fluid from the body.
It supports healthy kidney and bladder function and is is particularly useful for reducing the risk of kidney stones. Betulenol and Betulene are the two components which are responsible for this diuretic property of birch.2
The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties
These components protect the skin from both bacterial and fungal infections. Also, birch is sometimes added to cosmetic products to help reduce inflammation and redness.
Cures Cancer Naturally
Birch bark contains a variety of anti-inflammatory and apoptosis (controlled cell death) mediating substances such as betulinic acid, betulin, oleanolic acid, and lupeol, which may be beneficial in treating actinic keratosis (a precancerous skin condition).
According to a research study, the triterpene extract from the outer bark of birch might represent a new tool for the topical treatment of skin cancer and skin cancer precursors like actinic keratoses.3
Cures Oral Problems
Due to its anti-bacterial, antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent and germicide properties, birch essential oil is helpful for treating oral problems
Natural Pain Relievers
Birch contains salicylate, a natural pain killer, which is found in aspirin. Salicylate relieves inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and generalized muscle pain.5
Saponin, a compound in birch sap, has blood cholesterol lowering properties. It depletes the amount of cholesterol by preventing it’s re-absorption and increasing it’s expulsion from the body.6
Heals Wounds Quickly
Research studies together with the clinically proven efficacy, have identified birch bark as the first medicinal plant with a high potential to improve wound healing.7
Promotes Liver Health
Birch sap can act as a highly effective detoxifying agent for the liver. It attaches to and neutralizes toxins in liver. It has also found acceptance as a supplementary nutrition for supporting liver health.8
Other Potential Benefits
Research on birch sap indicates that it can also be used effectively against anaemia, tuberculosis, cold and skin diseases. With its expectorant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, birch essential oil supports our body in fighting against chest congestion, bronchitis, nasal congestion, pneumonia and bronchial congestion.
Ways To Use Birch
Birch Essential Oil
Add 1 drop of Birch oil and 1 drop of Spearmint oil to a cup of lukewarm water. This concoction can be used for gargling for improved oral health.
You can soak birch leaves in water for few hours and then use the strained solution for applying on your skin as a treatment for various skin problems.
The bark of a birch tree can be used as a cast for broken bones.
A Word Of Caution!
- Birch should be used with caution if you are nursing or pregnant.
- Those who are allergic to aspirin should not use birch.
- Birch oil can cause skin irritation.
- Because of it’s diuretic effect on the kidneys, birch should not be used by anyone with compromised kidney function or heart failure.
|↑1||Health Benefits Of Birch Essential Oil, Organic Facts.|
|↑2||Yarnell, Eric. “Botanical medicines for the urinary tract.” World journal of urology 20.5 (2002): 285-293.|
|↑3||Laszczyk, Melanie, et al. “Physical, chemical and pharmacological characterization of a new oleogel-forming triterpene extract from the outer bark of birch (betulae cortex).” Planta medica 72.15 (2006): 1389-1395.|
|↑4||Applications/Benefits Of Buddha Water, Buddha Water.|
|↑5||10 Natural Pain Reliever Alternatives You Will Regret Missing, Lifehack.|
|↑6||Saponins, Perfect Waters.|
|↑7||Ebeling, Sandra, et al. “From a traditional medicinal plant to a rational drug: understanding the clinically proven wound healing efficacy
|↑8||Svanberg, Ingvar, et al. “Uses of tree saps in northern and eastern parts of Europe.” Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 81.4 (2012).|