Birch Trees: Natural Medicine in Your Backyard

If you have access to birch trees, take advantage of their medicinal properties by using the techniques outlined in this article.


| January 24, 2014



Mushrooms sprouting from a birch tree

In every form, birch makes an excellent tonic and detoxifier, mainly working on the urinary system to remove waste products, as in kidney or bladder stone, gravel, gout, and rheumatism.


Photo by Fotolia/Erni

Alternative medicine and natural healing have reached into every facet of our lives. Lack of confidence in commercial medicine and an interest in getting closer to nature have made formerly-considered “alternative” treatments mainstream. Backyard Medicine (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009), by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, offers fascinating home remedies for everyday ailments. In the following excerpt, learn how to make use of the medicinal properties in birch trees.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Backyard Medicine.

Birch Trees

Betula pendula, B. pubescens, B. lenta

Birch has a multitude of historical uses but is less familiar for its undoubted medicinal properties. The sap makes a clear and refreshing drink that can be preserved as a wine, beer, or spirit. The leaves produce a pleasant tea and an infused oil. In each form, birch is an excellent tonic and detoxifier, mainly working on the urinary system to remove waste products, as in kidney or bladder stone, gravel, gout, and rheumatism. It reduces fluid retention and swellings, and clears up many skin problems.

Birch is one of the most useful of trees as well as one of the most graceful. From adhesives to wine, baskets to yokes, and boats to vinegar, it has been a boon to people in the cold north for thousands of years. Its medicinal properties have been historically valued and should be better known today.

Called the oldest tree in Britain, birch was a pioneer species when the ice caps retreated, moving in on the devastated land, growing quickly and then rotting to leave more fertile earth in which other species could take over. In its rapid life cycle birch pushes upward too fast to develop a strong heart wood, but this makes it perfect for making buckets and canoes.





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