Birch leaf has many health benefits and deals with problems such as arthritis, rheumatism, hair loss, skin rashes, urinary tract infections, and many other ailments .
From ancient times birch tree leaves, bark, and sap is known for their medicinal properties.
It was once called the “Lady of the woods,” because it can protect you from many ailments.
Keep reading to find out more about the birch trees, their therapeutic effects, health benefits, uses, and possible side effects.
What Is a Birch Tree?
Birch, a deciduous tree, is known as the oldest species of the tree still living.
The birch tree is a soft-wooded tree from the family of Betulaceae, which is found in almost all countries but is highly widespread in the Northern Hemisphere.
Birch leaves appear wedged-shaped that have a pleasant odor with a bitter taste.
Known by several names, such as the most common ones being, Paper birch, Yellow Birch, Silver birch, Cherry birch, White birch, and Himalayan birch, is related closely to the beech and oak family.
The lifespan of this tree is around 40-50 years and can even live for 200 years, provided the favorable conditions for its survival.
Birch leaf is known as a natural pain reliever due to the component salicylate, the compound found in aspirin.
The two most incredible thing about a birch tree is that it can even grow in areas with polluted soil and is known to cleanse contaminated soil to allow plants to grow once again.
It contains some powerful anti-inflammatory, astringent, laxative, and diuretic properties that are helpful in treating a variety of health problems.
Apart from medicinal properties, its wood is used to make furniture and paper.
Birch tree pulp is mostly used to make papers.
Due to its hardwood, its wood is used in construction, making musical instruments, and to make furniture.
Therapeutic Properties of Birch Leaves
Birch leaves are known to be rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, tannins, and sesquiterpenes.
Active constituents in the leaf extract include polymeric proanthocyanidins and other phenolic compounds that are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Current preparations using birch leaf extracts are used to treat inflammation and in alleviating pain in rheumatism patients .
Studies suggested that a widespread species associated with birch, Betula pendula, exert a diuretic effect due to its anti-inflammatory capacity.
Birch leaf extract has also shown promising treatment for corneal inflammation, and due to its antibacterial property, it is shown to be effective against uropathogenic Escherichia coli .
As a result, it is used as a diuretic and as an adjuvant in patients having minor urinary tract infections.
Apart from this, the Birch leaf is also known for its soothing and purifying effects on the skin.
Hence, this herb is also used in the treatment of many different skin disorders as well.
On the other hand, the bark of the tree contains a terpene, betulinic acid, that acts as a valuable anticancer agent .
It also has a wide range of biological and pharmacological activities such as anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, anti-HIV, and antineoplastic .
The tree’s sap is also known to have various medicinal benefits.
The sap contains important minerals and sugars like fructose, glucose, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, thiamine, and phosphorous in it.
Thus showing the benefits of almost every part of the tree.
6 Health Benefits and Uses of Birch Leaf
As you have seen, there are many therapeutic properties of the birch tree. Let’s see how these properties provide us with health benefits.
Below are some benefits of birch:
1. For Immunity
Birch leaves contain anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that help the body protect against various infections, also providing quick recovery from any pre-existing infection.
As mentioned above, birch leaves contain vitamin C and flavonoids that are known to act as natural anti-oxidants.
Antioxidants help reverse the damage done to the body that was caused by free radicals, improving general health.
The leaves of a birch tree are boiled to make tea.
Having this tea is believed to boost the body’s immune system.
Directions for making birch leaf tea:
- Boil a cup of water
- Take 5-6 cleaned birch leaves and put them in a cup
- Pour the boiling water into the cup directly and let them steep for sometime
- Drink this tea 2-3 times a day to boost your immune system
2. For Inflammation
The bark of the birch tree contains high amounts of betulinic acid which has potent anti-inflammatory activity.
Having a cup of birch tea infused with both the leaves and bark of the tree makes it very helpful in the treatment of common joint conditions like arthritis and rheumatism.
- Boil a cup of water
- Take 5-6 cleaned birch leaves, and cleaned pieces of twigs and add them to a cup
- Pour the boiling water and let them steep for sometime
- Having a cup of tea at least thrice a day will help to treat arthritis and rheumatism that causes inflammation
3. Digestive Aid
The medicinal properties of the birch tree leave also help in digestive problems such as heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It’s also found to provide relief from constipation and support regular bowel movements due to its laxative properties.
- Take some birch leaves and soak them in good quality apple cider vinegar
- Soak both the ingredients for a few weeks in a glass
- Strain the liquid solution
- Drink this juice directly before or after meals
- The micronutrients and minerals released into the vinegar provide you with all the wonderful benefits to stimulate your digestive system
4. Natural Astringent
The natural astringent properties of birch bark make it a great remedy for treating skin problems such as eczema and dermatitis.
Apart from skin problems, it also helps promote skin elasticity by reducing the formation of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.
- Soak a good amount of the leaves of a birch tree in water for 4-6 hours
- Directly apply this solution to your skin that has skin problems
- Since it is a natural herb, it will have no side effects in treating your skin
- You can even use this solution if you have dandruff
- Wash your hair with this solution to address such scalp issues as it strengthens hair follicles
READ MORE: 11 Reasons to Use Coconut Oil for Dandruff
5. Urinary Tract Infections
Birch leaves contain diuretic properties that may help to remove harmful toxins, uric acid, and excess water from the body via urine.
Due to this diuretic property, it increases the volume and amount of a person’s urination.
Birch leaves help to reduce the risks of having kidney stones leading to overall good kidney health.
It also helps to maintain good liver by eliminating cellulite.
- Use birch tree leaves tea for urinary tract infections
- Boil a cup of water
- Add the boiling water to cleaned and crushed birch leaves
- Add a pinch of baking soda to the infusion
- Drink this tea 2-3 times a day for better results
- By drinking this regularly, it will help to detoxify the blood as well
The pure birch oil contains salicylic acid and methyl salicylate, two potent ingredients that kill off germs and bacteria, ultimately treating skin infections.
This birch oil when applied to the skin having ringworm or other skin infections, help to kill the infection and speed up the process of healing.
Even big cuts, wounds, and bites are treated using birch oil.
- To make homemade birch oil, add fresh leaves in a jar and pour carrier oil (e.g., olive oil) till the top of the jar
- Cover the jar with a cloth and tie it with a rubber band
- Put this jar outside in a sunny place for a month and stir the mixture gently once a week.
- After a month, strain the oil and pour it into another jar and store it in a cool and dry place
- You can use this for the treatment of eczema or cellulite
- However, don’t apply this to an open wound
READ MORE: Olive Oil for Skin Health Boost (How to Use)
Some Precautions and Side Effects
Below are a few things you should keep in mind before using any part of this tree.
- Birch is safe when taken orally or applied to the skin, but for a shorter period.
- Although there are not many side effects of Birch, it’s preferable not to use the whole birch leaf, and root.
- Birch pollen might cause allergies to people who have very sensitive skin or who are allergic to hazelnuts, peanuts, apples, and soybeans.
- It is not advisable to use birch leaves for people who have high blood pressure as birch might increase the amount of sodium the body retains.
- Always dilute Birch oil with other carrier oil as sweet birch oil is extremely toxic.
- Birch oil should not be used on pregnant women or while breastfeeding.
- Lastly, people with blood-thinning medications or the elderly shouldn’t use birch oil.
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