DANGERS OF BIRCH
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.
It is used externally for treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis, spots; to treat hair loss and for smelly feet.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
More information about birch properties.
18 June, 2021