The sap, bark, and leaves of the common birch tree have been used for hundreds of years to cure a variety of ailments. The birch tree, found in North America, Europe, and Asia, is well-known for the beautiful furniture that comes from the wood, but is perhaps less often acknowledged for its medicinal properties.
Health Benefits of Birch
Below are the various uses for and benefits of birch.
1. Digestive Aid
The medicinal properties of birch tree leaves include regulating your digestion and addressing issues such as IBS and heartburn. Rather than gnawing on a birch tree twig (not recommended), try soaking some small twigs and leaves in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks; you can then strain and drink the liquid solution (directly or mixed with other beverages) to aid in digestion.
Birch tree oil stimulates the many systems in the body (circulatory, nervous, digestive, etc.) and also stimulates the excretion of hormones. Because this stimulating effect can help regulate hormone production, this can aid in treating depression, diabetes, mood swings, and other conditions related to hormonal imbalance.
3. Natural Astringent
Birch tree also contains natural astringent properties, which makes it a great natural remedy for treating skin issues such as eczema and dermatitis. For skin treatment, soak the leaves of a birch tree in water for 3-6 hours and then apply this solution to your skin. Bathing in water with some birch leaves can also address scalp issues such as dandruff. Birch oil can also help your skin look healthier and younger by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The leaves and twigs of birch trees have long been used to treat inflammation. For best results, boil the leaves and/or twigs to release the betulinic acid inside, which then heals the inflammation.
Pure birch tree oil also contains salicylic acid and methyl salicylate, both of which are natural astringents. These components make birch oil an effective remedy for treating infections of the skin (such as big bites, open cuts, etc.) as well as acne. Birch oil can also be applied to ringworm and other skin infections to kill the infection and speed up recovery time.
Birch oil is a natural diuretic, which means it helps promote frequent urination, thereby removing toxins from the body on a regular basis. Birch oil also helps to remove uric acid build-up in the body (which can help with arthritis and gout) and helps detoxify the blood.
How to Use Birch
To make a tea, use 7 to 10 small twigs found at the ends of branches, wash, and then crush or chop them into small pieces. These should be placed at the bottom of a teapot with two cups of freshly boiled water poured over. Steep for a few minutes and then strain into a cup, sweetener can be added to taste.
Caution and Recommendations
In the birch tree, nature has given us natural remedies and treatments for everything from arthritis to urinary tract infections to hormonal imbalances. Take advantage of this natural gift and utilize birch for any of the above mentioned uses. While birch oil should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding, there are practically no other side effects for using birch. However, stay away from Sweet Birch oil as it is extremely toxic. Once you know you are using the proper birch and using it correctly, this natural medicine can be used for nearly anything.