Birch Tree Benefits
The slender white barked birch tree can be found growing on the hills and mountain sides in the more temperate areas of the far north. It is considered to be a small tree (some birches are even classified as shrubs) with distinctive white bark that is marked with fine horizontal lines and a dark green triangular (or rhombus shaped) leaves with saw-toothed edges. The bark, for which the tree is most known for, starts out smooth and silvery white then turns bright white as it matures. The bark also develops large black cracks in it as it ages.
For centuries, Birch has been used to treat a large number of different maladies. Birch based brews have been used to help cleanse the body of toxins or intestinal parasites. The leaves have been used to treat infections and skin irritations and the buds have been used as diuretic to help with various bladder ailments. The wood coal has been used to help deal with toxins, the bark, ripped into bands and moistened with water has even been used to help stabilized fractures.
Here are some other things that Birch has been used for:
- Intestinal parasites
- Flu, fever, colds
- Sinus problems
- Poor Circulation
- Liver Problems
- Urinary Tract Health
The Birch tree has many amazing traditional healing properties and recent medical research has shown that the leaves, buds and bark of the birch do indeed have many beneficial substances that can lead to better health and well-being. The buds of the birch tree, for example, have been shown to be high in Vitamin C, flavonoids, and tannins making them helpful in the prevention of viral infection and the formation of cancer. A decoction of birch buds has also been shown to help increase urination and to aid in the abatement of edemas.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the birch tree is the compound that is actually responsible for making the bark so white and shiny. Birch bark is rich in a compound known as betulin, a powdery substance that displays many valuable pharmacological properties. Studies have shown that betulin could be potentially effective in the treatment of skin cancer, respiratory syncytial virus, pneumonia, and has even been tested for its effectiveness against HIV virus. The unique biology of betulin and betulinic acid have also been shown to help protect the liver from toxic chemicals, and to help reduce the toxic effects of radiation and chemo therapy. It has also been shown that places where birch is abundant and the bark is used for many household items have displayed longer lifespan and less incidences of oncologic disease.
The birch has been prized for many centuries for both its aesthetic beauty as well as for its medicinal value. Throughout the regions where it grows it has becomes a symbol of health, healing, renewal and longevity, and modern research has shown that there is more than just a grain of truth to these myths surrounding this truly magical plant. Using birch brews or infusions can help cleanse the body, clear the skin, strengthen the hair, and even help reduce the risk of tumors.