Birch (silver)

Betula pendula, Betulaceae. The young leaves and the bark are the part of the plant used.

The leaves are collected in late spring or summer. When gathering the bark it is important not to ring bark the tree (not to take the bark off all the way round the tree) otherwise the tree will die.

Functions of birch

Birch:

  • leaves act as an effective remedy for cystitis and other infections of the urinary system as well as removing excess water from the body.
  • can be used for gout, rheumatism and mild arthritic pain, because of its diuretic action.
  • bark will ease rheumatic pain if it is applied externally, putting fresh, wet internal side of the bark next to the skin.

Notes on birch

  • For urinary infections it can be combined with bearberry.
  • For rheumatic pain it combines well with black willow.

Dosages

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the dried leaves and let infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

Birch is a slow growing deciduous tree.

It prefers a dry or moist sandy soil in the full sun. They can be grown from seed or by green stem cuttings.

If you buy a plant from the nursery be sure to water it thoroughly at least once per week. Don't let the soil dry out. Birches improve soil, restoring fertility to barren areas. In the garden situation they should be mulched to ensure they have sufficient moisture. Every 2-3 years fertilise with a solution of nitrates, phosphates and potash.

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References

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Marcin, M. M. 1990, Herbal Teas: Growing Harvesting and Brewing. Collins.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

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