Organic Botanics Spotlight: Birch - Betula Alba
The name of the Birch tree has been said to have derived from the Sanskrit word 'Bhurga' meaning a tree whose bark is used for writing on, as Birch bark can be easily separated and used as a paper. However it's uses doesn't stop there.
Birch trees are able to thrive and grow in any soil and is grown all over Europe where it is used for many applications. Because of the abundance of Birch, common uses include: broom handles and broom making, gunpowder charcoal and the oil from the tree is often used in the preparation of leather in Russia. A cordial can also be made by piercing the tree in March and draining the thin sugary sap. By adding honey, cloves and lemon and then fermenting the whole concoction you can make Birch Wine.
Traditional healers have long considered Birch leaf a great healer for skin irritations because of it's super anti-inflammatory status. Birch tree contains betulinic acid that gives it its anti-inflammatory properties. As well as Birch having great anti-inflammatory powers, it is also antibacterial, and has been used to treat headaches, fevers, wounds, skin problems and strangely enough cellulite.
Birch leaf decoctions are a great way to help alleviate bacteria and problems with eczema or psoriasis prone skin. Put 50g of Birch leaf in an old sock or small muslin bag, and boil it in 2 litres of water for 15 minutes. When it is cooled, you can add this to your bath water. Check the temperature of the decoction before you use it to avoid any discomfort. Alternatively, put the dried Birch leaf in the sock/muslin bag and add straight to your bath to soak and infuse the water. You can also use it as a compress by applying it to the skin whilst in the bath.
Birch has also been considered to strengthen skin tissue, tone the scalp and make hair soft and shiny as well as treating hair-loss! Because it contains saponins, it can open up pores which helps the other botanical ingredients to penetrate the scalp for maximum benefit. Its astringent property strengthens gums, hair and tightens muscles and regular use of birch treatments may help reduce wrinkles. As well as conditioning, Birch can help combat oily or greasy hair.
Products you can find it in: Soapnut Organic Herbal Hair Rinse Conditioner