BIRCH (Betula alba L)
Deciduous, fast-growing tree that might reach 30 m high. Short trunk, cone-pyramid shape. Smooth, cracked bark, whitish on top changing downward into yellowish to brownish. Plain petiolate leaves that alternate, expire and fall. Leaves are oval or rhomboid, 4-6 cm high, 3-5 cm wide, toothed, irregular shaped and slightly hairy in both sides. The fruit is lenticular, nut-shaped with two membranous wings (winged samara) to facilitate their spreading by the wind. The seeds mature around August and September. It belongs to the family Betulaceae.
It is originated in Northern Asia. Is normally found in the mountains and forests of the North and Northeast of Europe-Asia, at approximately 1,000 to 2,000 m in altitude. Abundant in river’s bank, streams and humid hillsides. Highly tolerant to acid and loose soil and very cold weather. It blooms around April-May. The flowers are harvested in spring. There are more than sixty different kinds of birches, mostly spread along the northern hemisphere of the planet.
Its bark is impermeable and has multiple uses: ancient shepherds use it to elaborate cups, and even snow boots; it’s been used for roofs, ships construction, thread spools, herring barrels, broomsticks, toilet paper (in Siberia), etc.
The birch’s pollen is the main cause of allergies in northeastern and central Europe countries, where it is found in high concentrations. Up to 30% of patients with birch pollen allergy might develop symptoms by eating or even just handling apple, apricot, cherries and dried fruits. Its blooming and pollination takes place during April and May, reaching its concentration peak during April.
Its leaves, preferably young. Sometimes the bark and the buds.
> Genitourinary infections: cystitis, urethritis, pyelonephritis, urethritis.
> Renal lithiasis prevention (nephritic colic) and kidney stones.
> Edema, oliguria, fluid retention.
> Rheumatic affections.
> Hyperuricemia, gout, hyperazotemia.
> Common cold and fever.
> Depurative cures to facilitate the eliminating functions of the body.
> Skin problems: acne, chronic eczema.
> Pre-menstrual syndrome.
> Mild hepatobiliary deficiency.
> Adjuvant in rheumatic processes, lumbago. Topically administered, it eases the pain, swelling and stiffness of joints. Also, it exerts an anti-inflammatory action.
> Wounds and ulcers (compresses).
> Hair loss and dandruff.