Mountain Rose Herbs

Birch Bark

Also known as

Betula spp, Betula, Betulae Folium, Betula pendula, Betula verrucosa, Downy Birch, Silver Birch, White Birch.

Introduction

The birch is a soft-wood tree native to cold, northerly climates. The name is a very ancient one, probably derived from the Sanskrit bhurga, meaning “tree whose bark is written upon.” Birch bark easily peels from the tree, but is slow to decay. Removing the bark from a living tree can threaten the life of the tree if the dark inner bark is damaged, but due to the remarkable preservative properties of birch bark, it can easily be harvested from dead or fallen trees, where it still retains its wonderful properties. Birch bark is strong and water resistant, almost like cardboard in its pliability, and can therefore be bent, cut, and even sewn.

Constituents

Betulinic acid, betulin, methyl salicylate.

Parts Used

Dried, powdered bark.

Typical Preparations

Tea, poultices.

Summary

Native Americans used birch bark in many facets of their everyday lives as a material for canoes, wigwams, scrolls, ritual art, musical instruments, containers for food, and even clothing. Birch bark has been quite valuable since pre-historic times for its applications in building and crafting.

Precautions

Birch is diuretic. Do not take birch bark or leaf internally if you have difficulty going to the bathroom.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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