Silver birch

15 January 2017

It is known to everyone and recognizable by its distinctive appearance of the bark. Birch has always enjoyed an excellent reputation due to its diuretic properties. But its not the only health promoting advantage! The birch is a large tree, growing up to even 30 meters. Its leaves are rich in triterpene saponins, flavonoids, phenolic acids and vitamin C. Its bark contains diterpenes, tannins and essential oil.

Thanks to the flavonoids the birch has diuretic properties, but as a contrast to other plants with the same function -it does not cause loss of mineral salts or kidney tissue irritation. In addition, it has the ability to suppress inflammation and it enhances the regeneration of the body. The birch increases the secretion of bile, therefore, it is used in indigestion. It eliminates high level of cholesterol. Externally birch bark is used, because it contains tannins. They have astringent and antiseptic properties.

The birch sap drunk regularly, strengthens the immune system, and thus - prevents from viral infections, so frequent in early spring. Therefore, it is especially recommended for people who are susceptible to viral infections, eg children and the elderly. On the other hand, in folk medicine birch sap was regarded as a drug for preventing the formation of cancer, particularly - lung cancer. For this reason, it is recommended to heavy smokers.

The birch is a tree growing in Poland very frequently. Do not collect leaves for consumption from contaminated places. Locations near to the intensively fertilized crops, the centres of large cities or near to roads with heavy traffic should be avoided. Leaves should be harvested in the spring when they are still sticky. They may be dried in a drying room at a temperature no higher than 40 degrees Celsius or in a ventilated and shady place, at ambient temperature.

The birch should not be used with the inflammation and ulcers of the stomach. Another contraindication to the usage of the birch is also pregnancy and lactation period.