Bengay?! No Way, Use Birch!

I’d like to give a big thanks to this month’s sponsors. Be sure to check back every Monday to sign up for a chance to win one of these great giveaway items:
Week 1 – Birch Pendant from Mulberry Mudd
Week 2 – Birch Elixir from Ananda Wilson of Amrita Apothecary
Week 3 – Cleavers Care Package from Mountain Rose Herbs
Week 4 – Wooden Snowy Owl from Mamaroots.com
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I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, and climb black branches up a snow-white trunk. Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, but dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
– Robert Frost, Birch Trees
Every time I look up into the bosom of a beautiful Birch tree, I am reminded of this poem by Robert Frost. One could do worse indeed!
It seems there is a never ending source of usefulness in the Beautiful Birch tree. Native Americans used the bark for roofing and building materials in their huts, canoes and baskets due to the water proofing abilities of the oils in Birch. The paper white Birch bark was often used as paper as well.

Trees are tapped this time of year, the same as Maples, for their sap which has medicinal value as well as proving to be quite tasty as either a tonic drank as is or boiled down into a sap for syrup. The sap is full of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, thiamin and vitamin C.

Birch was one of the key ingredients to making root beer and can still be found in recipes today.
Medicinally, Birch is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antirheumatic, astringent, cholagogue and diuretic..

As an antibacterial, Birch is good for all things bacteria related. He is especially good when used for bacterial related infections of the urinary system and kidneys.

Birch also does a great job of treating inflammation due to his anti-inflammatory properties. When applied externally, Birch works wonders on arthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains and other body aches.

Combining this property with his antibacterial and diuretic properties, he is great for taking on urinary tract and kidney problems. For the urinary tract and kidneys, look to him for assisting in the treatment of urethritis, cystitis and nephritis.

His astringent and cholagogue properties make him an ideal herb for treating digestive problems such as colitis, diarrhea, liver problems by increasing the flow of bile in the liver and toning the digestive tract with the rich tannins. Increasing the bile production can assist with better digestion of food, reduce side effects of a malfunctioning liver such as indigestion, a burning stomach, flatulence and belching.

 Birch Relief Infused Oil

This light oil can be used as a massage oil for arthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, fibromyalgia, strains and sprains and other body aches.

You will need:

Birch leaf
Birch bark
Apricot Kernel oil
Double boiler or potpourri crock pot
Strainer
Cheesecloth
Glass measuring cup
Bottle for finished oil

Place a handful of both the leaf and bark in the top of your double boiler or in your miniature crock pot. Alternately, you can use one or the other singly.

Add enough Apricot Kernel oil to completely immerse the Birch. If using a double boiler, gently heat on top of the stove for 2-3 hours. A crock pot will take longer so you may opt to start it at bedtime and strain it first thing in the morning. Be sure to set it on the lowest setting.

Set your strainer in a glass pyrex measuring cup and line the strainer with your cheesecloth. Pour the oil into the strainer and let it drip through for 2-3 more hours until completely drained. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze tightly to remove the remaining oil.

Compost the herbs and pour the oil into your jar. After a day or two, check to see if there is a layer at the bottom of your jar. If there is, carefully strain the oil on top into another jar being careful not to disturb the layer of moisture at the bottom (the bottom layer is water).

Want to learn more about Birch? February’s issue is all about this wonderful ally. You can purchase it for just $7.99:

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8 Responses to “Bengay?! No Way, Use Birch!”

  1. 1

    We have a lot of birch growing here in Vt and it is where the Chaga grows. I love your magazine and look forward to trying this salve with my daughter!

  2. 2

    Fascinating!
    Robert Frost’s poem is one of my all-time favourites.
    I did not know about these sap products of my favourite tree!

  3. 3
    Lori

    Just downloaded February’s issue on Birch. I had no idea that you could tap them for syrup. I am very interested in its healing qualities! And also, the drawings are beautiful. :)

  4. 4
    Nur

    Kristine: Thank you so much for giving this important recipe and uses. Can we use alcohol or olive oil instead of Apricot Kernel oil? Thank you.

  5. 5
    kathleen

    Thank you for this informative post. We drank a lot of birch beer as kids & teenagers growing up. The real thing too. It brings back some happy memories. I’ve had some locally produced organic root beer in recent years at a paricular restaurant and just love it. I’d love to have some really good birch beer again.

  6. 6
    Dena T

    I want to plant a Birch tree now. I always loved the bark, now I love the whole tree. What a great article. Thank you so much.

  7. 7
    chanelle b

    i loved using birch as vitu in sauna on the archipelago of kustavi, finland!

  8. 8
    Debbra W

    Why do you use the masculine when referring to anything without a discernible gender? Birch, he or him; Thyme he or him – just wondering. ;-)


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