The birch tree (Betula alba), also known as silver birch, gets its name from the Sanskrit word ‘bhurga’ meaning a tree whose bark is used for writing upon.
Found growing wild through Europe in woods and mountain regions, this ornamental and medicinal tree can be found in many parks and is also popular with Australian gardeners. As well as supplying timber to produce wheels, hoops for casks, brooms and switches, birch is regarded as an “inside and out” herb, as it is beneficial for internal organs and externally for the skin.
Used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, a decoction or infusion of silver birch bark or leaves is reputed to be useful in the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, gout, kidney stones, nephritis, cystitis, digestive disturbances and respiratory diseases. An infusion of birch tea can destroy harmful bacteria in the kidneys and urinary tract, making it also useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
Externally, birch can promote healing, relieve pain, plus treat inflammation and infections of the skin, such as eczema and psoriasis. Native American Indians handed down their knowledge of the attributes of birch as a hair restorer/growth stimulant, conditioner and scalp cleanser.
The following is my favourite recipe to counter hair loss:
- 50g Birch leaf
- 50g Rosemary leaf
- 50g Stinging nettle root
- 50g Walnut leaf
Place the above herbs into a large bowl, mix well and store in an airtight glass jar away from sunlight.
Put one heaped teaspoon of the mixture in one cup of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain, cool and massage into the scalp twice daily.