Family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Parts Used: sap, leaves, inner bark and buds
There are several species of medicinal birch which is why I only listed the Genus of Betula. The most common species are B. pendula, B. pubescens, B. lenta. Birch is most know to be wildcrafted but can be easily cultivated as part of a home landscape.
- cleansing tonic (sap)
- cleanses and supports urinary system
- dissolves kidney and bladders stones and gravel
- tonic and detoxifier
- treats diarrhea and dysentery
- reduces fluid retention and swellings
- clears up many skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis (in addition to a clean diet)
- cardiac or renal edema and dropsy
- pain reliever that is helpful for conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, gout and rheumatic conditions
- prevention and treatment of melanoma cancers (due to the betulinic acid)
- reduces fevers
- wounds, boils and sores
- canker and mouth sores
Methods of Use:
- Sap: Drink fresh or gently simmer for a syrup.
- Compress: apply directly o skin conditions such as eczema, rashes, herpes, etc.
- Herbal Oil: massage over areas of pain in the body such as sore muscles, joints, areas of pain from fibromyalgia, etc. Can also be used over skin conditions.
- Salve: use as herbal oil above – a salve works as an herbal oil, but slowly releases into the body, where an oil absorbs more quickly.
- Leaf Tea: Use dried or fresh leaves (light green early summer at latest). 4-5 leaves per cup of boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes. I cup 3-4 times a day.
- Powdered – take in capsules or add water to make a paste for external use. Both root and leaves can be used.
- Food: early spring buds and leaves can be added to salads. Twigs and leaves to soups (remove twigs after simmering). Spring bark can be eaten from the branches.
- Harvest leaves in the spring or early summer when they are still light green. They can be dried for future use or used immediately to make a tea or herbal oil.
- Harvest sap by drilling a hole through the bark in early spring before leaves appear. Insert a straw or similar tube and put the other end in a collectible container (can be taped to the trunk). After a week remove the straw and plug with a fitted twig, so the sap stops leaking
- Inner bark can be collected while the tree is dormant. Take from the twigs and branches and never around the circumference of a tree.