Birch toxicity


What is the birch and what is it used?

Birch, or white birch (Betula alba) is an evergreen tree native to northern and central Asia.

In herbal medicine tree bark and leaves are mainly used as a diuretic and astringent remedy.

Its properties and components empower it to help treat fluid retention, arthritis, metabolic diseases, uric acid, kidney stones, diarrhea and liver diseases.

It is used externally for treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis, spots; to treat hair loss and for smelly feet.

Birch composition

– The bark is rich in tannins (up 20%), with powerful astringent; and betulin (10-15%). Betulin or birch camphor present in the cortex, is one of the most important active ingredients of the plant. It is a glycoside with anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic and antiseptic properties.

– Tree leaves are rich in essential oil (0.04%), tannins (9%), saponin (3%), nicotinic acid (5%),../vitaminc.htm and flavonoids.

– The essential oil contains mainly betulenol (25%), betulin (10%), and other components such as methyl salicylate.

– When the crust is cooked, methyl salicylate decomposes into components having antirheumatic and antiinflammatory properties.

– The aroma of the plant is due to betulabic acid.

ilustraDrawing of a birch (Betula pendula)

Birch toxicity

– The essential oil is not externally or internally used because it contains methyl salicylate, a toxic component that can be fatal in doses of 10ml.

– Birch sap must be diluted before internal use. The slightly diluted or undiluted sap can have toxic effects.

– Distillation of the bark produces birch tar, with intense and balsamic odor, which is irritating to the skin.

*Related information : Contraindications of birch, side effects of birch

punto rojoMore information about birch properties.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

18 June, 2021

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