Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Some interesting articles from the web about birch

Sharon's Notes - Useful Wild Trees

Since I started with "Wild Apples" - I decided to continue along the tree avenue, and share with you all my "BIRCH" file - it is huge and I really am still deciding how much to eliminate as it is not all to do with foraging.
I do not have to go as far to forage for birch trees as I do for apples. Here on our 100+ acres of forest we have several. Actually we are truly blessed as we live where two types of forest meld and have a mix of both south and north species of trees. All which our area can have we have growing somewhere as the terraine is so diversified. Some one recently called our area "The Land Between" stating it was a under acknowledged eco system soon to be drastically disturbed with current population patterns. Hate hearing negative omens like that.
Back to birches. .

My birch file is also filled with survival tidbits and excerpts from various pages from around the web - some which retell thoughts and ideas but from slightly different viewpoints - which I hope no one finds too distracting.

We have here at Apsley Acers:
Yellow Birch - Betula alleghaniensis
Silver - White Paper Birch - B. papyrifera
Grey Birch - B. populifolia

My July note offering on BIRCH is set forth for others to add all their collective saved pieces so we can start gathering files in our database.
I hope you will take time to add any and all information I have missed.

Birch - Betula many species are numerous about 40 around the world.
Some Common Names:
Black Birch, Cherry Birch, Downy Birch, European White Birch, Silver Birch, White Birch, Grey Birch, Paper Birch, Yellow Birch, Himalayan Silver Birch, Indian Paper Birch, Beithe, Bereza, Berke, Beth, Bouleau, Lady of the Woods, Monoecia, Pioneer Tree, Tree of Birth

Sanskrit Name - Bhurjapatra
Birch is derived from "Bright" in Indo-European and related to Sanskrit "bhurga," "Birkana" in German, "Beorc" in Saxon, "Bedwen" in Welsh, "Bjarkan" in Norse. "Beith" in Gaelic is the first month of a lunar calendar and as the start of the Ogham alphabet, it is appropriate for beginnings and entry into Druidism. S.T. Coleridge named it "Lady of the Woods". As birch is one of the first trees to come into leaf it would be an obvious choice as representation of the emergence of spring. Often it is the wood of choice for the Maypoles, Yule Log of last season, anytime, really! But, because of its associations with spring cleaning and babies, it is appropriate for Oimelc or Spring Equinox. Its wood is good for starting fires for any season.

The earliest classical Sanskrit writers attest the use of 'Birch' bark for literary purposes. Owing to its papery nature, the bark (peel), was used in ancient times as a writing material in place of paper. It was valued for covering umbrellas, hookah-pipes, for packing, roofing, occasionally as textile and in the manufacture of Russian leather. 'Kalidasa' mentions it in his dramas and ethics. The use of this bark was discontinued by Akbar, the Moghul Emperor, who introduced the manufacture of paper.

The name is a very ancient one, probably derived from the Sanscrit bhurga, 'a tree whose bark is used for writing upon.' From its uses in boat-building and roofing it is also connected with the A.S. beorgan, 'to protect or shelter.'

Birch (Betula Alba, also known as The Lady of the Woods, and Tree of Life) is the first tree in the Celtic Tree calendar as Beth the Birch. It is one of the few trees to have a rune, or letter symbol, associated with it. (It is the rune of birth, mothers and children, and it has the qualities of secretiveness, and protection) Remember the old scare tactic when you were a child? If you are bad...Santa will bring a bag of sticks! Those "sticks" were Birch twigs and that tale related back to the time of Saint Nicolas.
The Norse associated the Birch tree with the god Thor, and a Birch planted close to your home would ward off the "evil eye", lightening and infertility.

(Sharon's note: As you drive up our long driveway to our house there is a large birch planted prior to our moving here - the first lady to live in our one room cabin had 12 children way back in the mid 1870's)

Birch is remarkable for its lightness, grace, and elegance, and after rain it has a fragrant odour.

The young branches are of a rich red brown or orange brown, and the trunks usually white, especially in the second species of B. alba, B. verrucosa. B. pubescens is darker, and has downy instead of warted twigs.

The wood is soft and not very durable, but being cheap, and the tree being able to thrive in any situation and soil, growing all over Europe, is used for many humble purposes, such as bobbins for thread mills, herring-barrel staves, broom handles, and various fancy articles. In country districts the Birch has very many uses, the lighter twigs being employed for thatching and wattles. The twigs are also used in broom making and in the manufacture of cloth.
The tree has also been one of the sources from which asphyxiating gases have been manufactured, and its charcoal is much used for gunpowder.

The white epidermis of the bark is separable into thin layers, which may be employed as a substitute for oiled paper and applied to various economical uses. It yields oil of Birch Tar, and the peculiar, well-known odor of Russian leather is due to the use of this oil in the process of dressing. It likewise imparts durability to leather, and it isowing to its presence that books bound in russia leather are not liable to become mouldy. The production of Birch Tar oil is a Russian industry of considerable importance. It is also distilled in Holland and Germany, but these oils are appreciably different from the Russian oil. It has the property of keeping away insects and preventing gnatbites when smeared on the hands. It is likewise employed in photography.

When the stem of the tree is wounded, a saccharine juice flows out which is susceptible, with yeast, of vinous fermentation. A beer, wine, spirit and vinegar are prepared from it in some parts of Europe. Birch Wine, concocted from this thin, sugary sap of the tree, collected from incisions made in the trees in March, honey, cloves and lemon peel being added and then the whole fermented with yeast, makes a very pleasant cordial, formerly much appreciated. From 16 to 18 gallons of sap may be drawn from one large tree, and a moderate tapping does no harm.

Ascending to an altitude of 4,200 m. Birch forests occur on open exposed tracts which are under snow throughout the greater part of winter.

Morphology Description (Habit)
It is a moderate-sized tree that grows up to 20m in height. It sometimes occurs as a mere shrub,forming the upper limit of forest vegetation. The bark is smooth, shining, reddish white or white, with white horizontal lenticels. The outer bark consists of numerous thin papery layers, exfoliating in broad horizontal rolls. The inner cortex is red and moist. The leaves are ovate-acuminate, elliptic, and irregularly serrate. The flowers bloom in May-June, in pendulous spikes. Seeds are thin and winged.

Parts Used
bark, leaves, resin
Buds: volatile oil which includes the camphor-like betulin
Young leaves: rich in saponins; also a falavinoid dreivative, hyperoside resin, tannins, sesuuuiterpenes, betulovinic acid, vitamin C.
Bark: betulinol and a glycoside.
Birch bark only contains about 3 per cent. of tannic acid, but is extensively used for tanning, wherever there are large birch forests, throughout Northern Europe. As it gives a pale colour to the skin, it is used for the preliminary and the final stages of tanning. It contains betulin and betuls camphor.
The leaves contain betulorentic acid.
By destructive distillation, the white epidermis of the bark yields an empyreumatic oil, known variously in commerce as oil of Birch Tar, Oleum Rusci, Oleum Betulinum or Dagget. This is a thick, bituminous, brownish-black liquid, with a pungent, balsamic odour. It contains a high percentage of methylsalicylate, and also creosol and guaiacol.
The Rectified Oil (Oleum Rusci Rectificatum) is sometimes substituted for oil of Cade.
Birch Tar oil is almost identical with Wintergreen oil.
It is not completely soluble in 95 per cent. acetic acid, nor in aniline, but Turpentine oil dissolves it completely.

One of trees' and shrubs' main sources for medicine is their bark. There are two types of bark. The outer bark is generally composed of dead tissue, and helps protect the live inner-bark tissue. It is the inner bark (where the vascular bundles lie), that is usually sought out for medicine, as it contains many of the phytoconstituents (plant chemicals) that help mend our mammalian bodies.

In 200 B.C, native people of North America learn to make salicylate pain remedies from birch bark. Researchers in the last century identified and isolated Salicin, a glycoside as active principle. From Salicin, Salicylic acid and finally Acetylsalicylic acid were synthesized.

Principal Constituents
The bark contains betulin. Betulic acid is also identified from the bark.

Infusion of the bark is antiseptic, carminative. Betulin, extracted from the bark, has been used for esterfication. A diuretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, tonic

Birch should not be used for edema due to cardiac or kidney dysfunction.
Side Effects: acute skin irritation, nasal allegies, any other fast bodily changes

A Birch depurative cure / cleanse.
To remain healthy, our body must constantly eliminate and regenerate.
In other words, our health depends on the balance between the organic processes of construction and the cleaning out of metabolic waste
Our neuro-sensory, digestive and motor activities inevitably involve the elimination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This waste is responsible for the sensation of fatigue. To regenerate, our body needs physical rest (sleep, holidays) as well as physiological rest
Age modifies our physiology. The body of the child, growing up rapidly, shows great vitality and suppleness, whereas in the old person the metabolism tends to slow down, the body loses its tonicity and tends to stiffen and to weaken. It becomes harder to get rid of metabolic waste, it accumulates and forms deposits which are reabsorbed with difficulty and can lead to different pathologies, of rheumatic type notably
From one year to the next, the natural balance between the process of construction and of destruction evolves gradually, quicker or slower. It is the natural process of aging. If it isn't possible to suppress it, it is however possible to prevent its acceleration
The lack of exercise, an unbalanced diet or a disease can lead to an accumulation of toxins in the body at any moment. It is notably the case during winter. With the cold, the lack of light and fresh food, the metabolism slows down and assimilation is hindered. When spring approaches, one feels worn out and downcast, with diffuse pain in the back, in spite of the bursting life that nature shows
To stimulate regularly the bodily functions of elimination with a depurative cure of birch associated to a food diet allows the system to drain its metabolic waste before it becomes a source of pathologies.
After 35, this type of cure is systematically advised every year in spring to regain balance and vitality.
It is also beneficial at the beginning of autumn, in case of general fatigue and of articular and back pain.
Generally speaking, the depurative cure of birch completes effectively medical treatments in case of painful articular symptoms. It is also the perfect adjuvant therapy for the external treatment of skins with problems. During a slimming course, the birch cure stimulates the elimination of toxins which is often slowed down when the bolus is reduced.

How is the birch cure practised?
To obtain a complete drainage of the body, it is advised to follow a cure for 5 to 6 weeks and to take a soupspoon (or a phial) of juice or syrup of birch in some water or herb tea, 2 to 3 times a day, if possible before meals. The persons wishing to reduce their consumption of sugar will rather choose the birch juice.
Food diet
During a depurative cure, it is important not to overload the body with food that chokes, that's why it is better to reduce the consumption of meat and dairies and to eat fruits and vegetables regularly. The rich sauces will also be avoided as well as too salty or too sweet food
Very often, spring fatigue is accompanied with sluggishness of the intestinal, hepatic and biliary system. To stimulate these organs, it is recommended to drink herb teas of plants known for their depurative action every day (stinging nettle, meadowsweet), or eat vegetables (dandelion, horseradish, artichoke, stinging nettle).
The regular elimination of stools will be facilitated by eating 4 to 5 prunes soaked a few hours before, every evening. As for drinks, let us not forget the essential role of water to clean out the system.

What is Birch it used for:
Various parts of the tree have been applied to medicinal uses.
The young shoots and leaves secrete a resinous substance having acid properties, which, combined with alkalies, is said to be a tonic laxative.
The leaves have a peculiar, aromatic, agreeable odour and a bitter taste, and have been employed in the form of infusion (Birch Tea) in gout, rheumatism and dropsy, and recommended as a reliable solvent of stone in the kidneys. With the bark they resolve and resist putrefaction.
A decoction of them is good for bathing skin eruptions, and is serviceable in dropsy.
Birch leaf tea is a powerful diuretic capable of dissolving kidney stones and bladder stones. It also kills off harmful bacteria in the kidneys and urinary tract.
To obtain the full diuretic effect, add a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the infusion to promote the extraction of the diuretic hyperoside.
Dried leaves mixed with pansy and lime flowers, as a drink used for common colds.
Traditional healers have long considered the leaves of the European white and silver birch effective in boosting urine output ( a use particularly popular in Europe) and remedying skin rashes, hair loss, rheumatic complaints, and conditions requiring that blood be "purified".

The oil is astringent, and is mainly employed for its curative effects in skin affections, especially eczema, but is also used for some Internal maladies.
Oil extracted from the buds or bark has been used externally in lotions to treat posriasis and eczema. Add the oil to Aloe gel.
CAUTION: Do not confuse this oil with sweet birch oil, which is extracted from the black birch (Betula lenta).
White birch - Some tests have shown it may be effective in killing melanoma (skin cancer) cells
An oil made by distilling the bark of the sweet birch was traditionally used for bladder infections, rheumatism, gout and nerve pain.
Today the oil appears in medicinal ointments and other commercial topical preparations as a counter-irritant, pain killer and antiseptic.
A birch tar oil formulated from European white birch is used to treat chronic eczema, psorasis, and other skin diseases.

The leaves also have a substantial reputation for treating rheumatism, arthritis and gout.

The inner bark is bitter and astringent, and has been used in intermittent fevers.
The bark, soaked in water used as a footbath for rheumatism.
A decoction of the bark has been used to allay intermittent fevers.

Sweet Birch extracts have wintergreen (or root beer) flavor and scent widely used in foods and fragrances at commercially accepted concentrations.

The vernal sap is diuretic.

Moxa is made from the yellow, fungous excrescences of the wood, which sometimes swell out from the fissures.

Of alcoholic extract of the leaves, 25 to 30 grains daily.

Birch wood can be burned inside a tent to keep mosquitoes away.

These dated entries are from " Use of Plants for the Past 500 Years"
Native Americans treated fevers, upset stomach, rheumatism and other ailments from the leaves and bark of the sweet birch. The bark was boiled and pounded to make poultices for minor wounds.
Inner bark scrapings were boiled, the liquid made one vomit.
1799 - Lewis - Birch sap - scorbutic disorders and other blood foulness
1840 - Gosse Quebec - Birch sap is evaporated by boiling - exposed to the summer sun made a good vinegar.
The fresh sap though pleasant has a slightly acid taste - where it flows it leaves a fungus like mass - a mucilaginous substance in a delicate pink hue - possibly similar to what is called "Mother of Vinegar".. insects gather quickly.
Birch was considered a sign of poor land.
The layers of bark when separated and divided into narrow strips takes much patience but makes an exceedingly soft and elastic mattress.
1840-41 - Phelps - after stripping off the bark a white milky substance was gathered as a consumption remedy.
1884 - Holmes - the white rotten wood is boiled in a decoction of Ledum latifolium/L.groenlandicum - labrador tea - for an hour. The wood is afterwards dried - rubbed into powder and sifted. Used for chafed surfaces - the flesh is washed in cold water and the powder sifted onto the area. Also used as a dusting powder for children.
1901 - Morice - desribed in deatil how a Cataract is treated with a minute pellicle torn from a piece of paper birch bark - doubled up one of the sides of the curve is used as a scraper to remove the cataract - ninebark after care notation.
1916 - Waugh - Iroquois - drink was made with a boild bundle of birch twigs.
1926-7 Densmore Chippewa - states that the early Chippewa understood the use of enemas as a nourishment and medicine the apparatus used was the bladder of a deer/hollow rush (used only once then burned) held in place with slippery elm strips on a birch bark tray. Administered medicines were the inner bark of the birch and also ash wood.
A red dye was made from the inner birch wood - inner and outer of red osier dogwood and oak bark scraped and water steeped. Boiled and ash from cedar bark added.
Things wrapped in birchbark do not spoil or decay.
Heavy Birch Bark is heated and shaped for splints.
Makuks - containers are sewed with split roots for storage
1928 - Parker - Seneca - birch used as a carminative
1933 - Smith - Potawami - gather birch tigs and soak them for the wintergreen frangrant oil used to season other medicines to mask disagreeable flavors.
1977 King Bay - Ojibwa - head is bound with birch bark for headache - utilizing the methyl salicylate property similar to willow.
1624 - Sagard - They also used large vats called Acha from the bark for storage - torches from horn-shaped rolls of bark. Baskets and bowls of reeds and birch bark were common.
I read with interest this description of native pumpkin seed sowing which the Huron women practiced.
1624 - Sagard - "they also sow many native pumpkins and raise them with great ease by this invention: The Huron women in season go to the forest to gather a quantity of rotten wood powder around old stumps; then having prepared a large bark box they make a layer in it of wood powder on which they sow the pumpkin seeds; afterward they cover it with another layer of dust and again sow seeds - many layers till the box has 4-5 fingers worth of empty space in order to leave room for the shoots. The cover the box with a large piece of bark and put it on two poles suspended in the smoke of the fire which heats gradually and the seeds sprout in a very few days.. ready for planting they take bunches, separate then and plant in previously prepared places.
Early settlers reportedly made a mouth was and (intestinal) worm treatment from parts of the tree.

Birch (Betula spp., Betulaceae). In the Caucasus and Central Asia, birch baths of European white birch (B. pendula Roth.) are used for external ulcers and wounds.
To prepare a bath, it is recommended to infuse a teaspoon of the budding leaves in 100 ml of boiling water In Himalayan regions, a decoction of the bark of Himalayan birch (B. utilis) is used to wash wounds.
Birch preparations were used successfully in the Central Clinic of the First Moscow University against erosion of the skin and conditions when the wound does not heal for a long time.

To Stimulate metabolism gently.
BETULA, birch; it is excellent for drainage in general, and for the rheumatic subject in particular.
In case of overweight, we advise birch buds; BETULA PUBESCENS.
They stimulate our endocrinal functions in general, as well as our sex hormones and thyroid hormones.
A gentle awakening without risk.
Exact formulation will be BETULA PUBESCENS buds MG ( glycerine macerate) 1D , 100 drops a day.

Common Birch (Betula pubescens) Immune System: Common Birch targets the cleansing of the liver and other organ systems. It is known as the universal drainer and is an excellent general remedy for strengthening the immune system.
As Black Currant is for the adrenals, Common Birch is for the immune system.

* Infections of the ear, nose and throat
* Allergies
* Adrenal gland
* Chronic Fatigue
?ip joint and Osteoarthritis (stimulates local blood flow)

Traditionally the Birch is appropriate in treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, and all maladies of the alimentary tract. The natural properties are cleansing to the blood and it is used specially for rheumatism, dropsy, gout, stones in the kidneys and bladder, and to expel worms.

The dose is one teaspoon of leaves and or bark infused in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, 3-5 cups daily. It mixes well with other herbal teas.

Externally, drink the tea freely when troubled with boils or skin eruptions. The tea is effective when gargled for canker and mouth sores.

Oil of wintergreen is distilled from the inner bark and twigs of the Black Birch (Betula lenta) also known as the Cherry Birch or Sweet Birch. The oil of Birch is applied to the skin for eczema and cutaneous diseases. Extract of leaves, buds, and bark are applied to ulcers, wounds, boils, eczema, and all skin conditions of broken and unbroken surfaces, rheumatic pain, swelling, and albuminuria.

Birch charcoal was used as an absorbent in cases of poisoning, gas bloating and indigestion.

The inner bark can be dried and ground in flour for emergency use.

Birch can be tapped in early spring for their flavorful sap. Native Americans tapped the Birch for its sap as a beverage, syrup, and sugar. Many tribes harvested this sap as a fresh and nutritious beverage. It was and still is used for birch beer and vinegars. By the end of "tapping season" the sap was the base for various teas, and botanicals were steeped in it for additional flavor and sweetness. Birch sap flows abundantly and can be processed like maple sap to make sweet, molasses like syrup. The flow is usually best in late March or April.

Birch sap was used in the spring as prepared as tea and is considered a vitamin treat as a tonic for anaemia, gout, scurvy, and rheumatism.

Black Birch bark was carefully peeled, and small pieces were enjoyed raw or boiled for several minutes and then chewed. This gum provides refreshing and beneficial juices

Cautionary Note - Everyone has different reactions, allergies, or sensitivities to foods, herbs, plants, mushrooms, medicines, etc. Always test your reaction to a new item by minimal contact or very small dose. Do not attempt to use any herbal medicine without first being assured that you can use it safely. Remember, it took generations of our ancestors to find out which herbs and plants were good for them. In the same way we must re-learn and gain our own personal experience to which things are to our benefit.

Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) contains an active principle similar to cortisone and is beneficial for massage associated with bone, muscle, and joint discomfort. It has also been used for arthritis, tendonitis, and rheumatism. Its aromatic wintergreen-like influences elevate, open and increase awareness in the sensory system. It may be applied neat to the bottom of the feet. Avoid using the oil during pregnancy or on people with epilepsy. Planet: Venus. [Water]

BIRCH: (Betula alba) A Druid sacred tree. Also known as Lady of the Woods, Paper Birch or White Birch. The antibacterial leaves give a diuretic tea used to treat gout and rheumatism, to dissolve kidney and bladder tones and to lower cholesterol. Steep two teaspoons of leaf per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is one to one a half cups over a day. Birch twigs and leaves are simmered and added to the bath for itchy skin conditions and falling hair. Taken before bed, the tea is sedative. The young shoots and leaves make a tonic laxative. The inner bark is simmered and used in fevers. Twigs and bark are simmered using two teaspoons of plant per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is one-fourth cup four times a day.

The twigs of B. lutea (Yellow birch) and B. lenta (black birch) are gathered in spring and simmered gently for twenty minutes to make a delicious beverage.
Please note: the leaves must be used fresh, and not after Midsummer, as they will then contain natural insecticides.
The white birch has no real flavor and does not make a good beverage tea. The bark and bud oil are used in medicated soaps.

This is an old and effective remedy to combat cystitis, urinary problems, gout, rheumatism and arthritis and to remove excess water from the body. To make the tea, collect the birch leaves (the best time is in the spring when the leaves are fresh) and dry them out of direct sunlight. Put 2-3 teaspoonfuls in a cup and pour on boiling water, then cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Take the tea 3-4 times daily or just occasionally if you need a mouthwash. Fresh leaves can also be used but as the months progress the leaves deteriorate.

BARK. Strong Decoction, 1-2 ounces, to 4X a day; external wash.
LEAVES. Standard Infusion as bath or wash, as needed.

Forms Available Include:
. for internal use: Infusion (made with leaves, sometimes available in tea bag form), juice (from fresh plant)
. for external use: European white birch tar oil, sweet birch oil, often sold as methyl salicylate in gels, liniments, lotions, ointment, and solutions.

Dosage Commonly Reported:
An infusion tea is made using 1 - 2 tablespoons chopped leaves per cup of water and is drunk several times per. Sweet birch oil appears as an ingrediant in many commercial liniments, gels, lotions, and ointments; carefully follow package instructions to avoid overexposure to the contained ingrediant methyl salicylate.

Of the many folk uses ascribed to this type of tree, scientific evidence can be found only for the use of European or silver birch as diuretics as or eczema treatments, and sweet birch oil as a topical treatment for inflamed or irritated joints.

Silver or white birch tea may be a viable diuretic, according to research done over the years. Experts believe that flavonoids and possibly the volatile oil and other substance in the dried leaves are responsible for the increased urine out put observed in laboratory rats.
Studies have not confirmed this diuretic effect. Still, German health authorities approve of these birches for making teas to treat disorders such as inflammation and infections of the kidney and urinary tracts and to help prevent the formation of kidney stones. When making a diuretic tea, avoid boiling leaves because this could destroy the valuable volatile oil believed to contribute to the diuretic effect.

In the case of birch tar oil, a doctor should oversee the treatment of chronic skin conditions, as increasing must be carefully monitored. Sweet birch oil contains concentrations (98%) of compound called methyl salicylate, which also appears in wintergreen oil and can be made synthetically, Applied to the skin in the form of gel, ointment, lotion, or topical solution, methyl salicylate is medically accepted as a mild counterirritant for inflamed or irritated joints. ( Counterirritants cause superficial irritation to deflect deeper pain and discomfort). Methyl salicyclate is similar to aspirin and should also help reduce pain and inflammation.

Researchers are exploring the value of a substance called betulin, which is found in some birch species and bears important similariites to betulinic acid, to inhibit skin skin cancers called melanomas.

Infusions made of European or silver birch leaves are relatively safe to use, according to common usage in European countries, although anyone taking a duiretic should be sure to drink plenty of fluids. German health authorities warn that individuals with swelling due to impaired heart or kidney function should not use this preparation however. They report no adverse interactions with other medicines. Most conditions requiring a diuretic are serious enough to merit a doctor's attention.

When using birch tar oil - or any wood tar, for that matter - remember that prolonged or extensive use (or over large parts of the body) merits regular testing the urine for the presence of proteins and sediments, given the risk of kidney irritation.

Whether derived from birch or wintergreen or synthesized in the labratory, the oil from birch sold as methyl salicylate should be used very cautiously as a counterirritant. Follow package instructions and avoild applying it after vigorous exercise or in hot and humid weather because dangerous amounts could get absorbed into your system.

Never swallow methyl salicylate, it is much more toxic than most salicylates, such as acetylsalicylic acis found in aspirin, and fatal poisonings in children have been reported.

Birch is medicinally used for arthritis, biliousness, bleeding gums, breast cancer, canker sores, cholera, cystitis, dandruff, dermatitis, diarrhea, dropsy, dysbiosis, dysentery, eczema, edema, fever, gonorrhea, gout, hypercholesterolemia, insomnia, intestinal worms, jaundice, kidney stones, minor wounds, nephritis, pyelonephritis, pyorrhea, rheumatic fever, rheumatism, and ureteritis. It is an astringent, and antirheumatic.

Birch Sweet {Betula Lenta}: The birch oils are generally good for helping the body remove toxins and purifying the blood. A good kidney tonic too.

Birch White {Betula Alba}: This oil is reputed to help with the removal of kidney stones too.
An infusion of fresh birch leaves may be used to treat edema, various bladder and kidney ailments and poor circulation. It is also said to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Birch sap is used to strengthen the immune system and as a general tonic. It is also used for nearly all skin ailments including dandruff and to speed hair growth. Birch tar is wonderful for skin diseases and to help wounds heal. An infusion of birch buds is used to remove skin spots.

Magickal Uses:
Birch is a fertility herb, an herb of love, and one of protection. Birch is sacred to Thor; one is never to take the bark from this tree unless it has been kissed by Thor (stricken by his lightening). Once Thor has claimed the tree's spirit it is then available for human use. (actually, taking the bark is forbidden by the folklore of many cultures) Modern pagans use this tree to give honor to the Goddess of the Woodlands. A circle of Birch Trees is among the most Magickal of sites in the sacred woodlands. Birch parchment (taken correctly) is used for Magickal writings. Birch may be used to banish negative energy, and provide protection. Celtic lore suggests the trimming of nine woods taken at Candlemas for the Beltaine fires. The original nine are Birch, Oak, Fir, Willow, Rowan (Mountain Ash), Apple, Grape vine, Hazel, and Hawthorne. Use Birch for your besom. Working with Birch may invoke the Goddess Aino, whose blood gave birth to the waters of the world. Through her we might better understand elemental water.

Legend of the Winabojo and the Birch Tree
As long as the world stands this tree will be a protection and benefit to the human race.

No comments: