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Birch

General Information

Birch is a tree found throughout North America and parts of Asia and Europe. The leaves of the tree contain vitamin C and are used to make medicine.

Common Name(s)

birch, European white birch, silver birch, weeping birch, downy birch, white birch

Scientific Name(s)

Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula alba

Scientific Name(s)

The dried leaves of the birch tree are typically used to make supplements taken by mouth. The leaves are often used to make teas and tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solutions.

The usual dose is 0.6 g to 9 g of dried leaves per day, in divided doses. To prepare a tea, pour 250 mL of boiling water on 2 g to 3 g of dried leaf and let it steepsteepTo soak an agent (such as tea) to extract its active ingredient for 10 minutes.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

In traditional herbal medicine, birch is used as a diureticdiuretican agent that increases urine flow (an agent that increases urine production).

Research suggests that birch leaf may be useful as a diuretic to increase urination, but there is not enough evidence from studies to confirm this.

Birch has also traditionally been used for other conditions such as bladder infections, arthritis, hair loss, and skin rashes. There is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of birch for these conditions.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Birch is a very common allergen and should be avoided if you have any type of pollen allergy.  If you are sensitive to celery, mugwort, or wild carrot, you may be more sensitive to birch.

The most common side effects of birch are allergic reactions including hives, rashes, red and itchy eyes, runny nose, and wheezing.

There may be an interaction between birch and diureticdiuretican agent that increases urine flow medication.

Birch has not been studied for use by pregnant or breast-feeding women. Talk to your health care provider before using birch.

There is no evidence to suggest that birch may be helpful for children under 18 years of age.

If you have swelling due to a kidney problem or cardiovascular disorder, talk to your health care provider before using birch.

Consult your health care provider if your symptoms continue or worsen.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. Giese N, Costa D, Kyomitmaitee E, Ulbicht C, Weissner W. Birch (Betula spp.) Natural Standard Professional Monograph. Natural Standard.. Available from: http://www.naturalstandards.com/ ©2014
  2. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph - Birch http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=42
  3. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Consumer Version. Monograph – Birch.. Available from http://www.naturalmedicines.com/ ©2009

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