Birch

Birch and Man

Through the centuries the birch is, despite its modest and simple appearance, described by man in poems and stories, celebrated in songs, and more recent also photographed endlessly by amateurs and professionals, for its special, mostly white colored, with some gray, brown and black nuances, rough, flaking bark, the splendor of its fragile, capricious wayward branches, and the beautiful shiny green in the wind rustling leaves, in autumn creating strong flaming yellow colors. These yellow colors explode in the landscapes, between the dark green of the pine trees all around me, where I live in Norway. When autumn is coming to an end and storms are blowing with a strong wind it is raining yellow leaves, falling down finally and covering the earth, nourishing the soil and micro life there.

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For the native peoples in the areas where the birch is common (or even entire forests are filled with his presence) the birch was/is a supplier of natural material, made from the bark for making roofs (as tiles), canoes, to weave, to make fire, and has often been a source of food in times of scarcity and famine (people made “flour” for bread out of the powdered bark), is food for animals such as the Elg (Norwegian moose) and is also traditionally popular for its recuperative and health-giving juices. In Norway people made cups out of the hard as stone cancer spots in de stem of the tree.

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Characteristics, qualities and health benefits of the birch

The birch though it looks simple and modest, a strong tree. The wood that this tree forms is hardwood. The tree belongs to the same family as the oak and the beech, so perhaps it is therefore, because these trees are also known as producers of hardwood.

However, the birch can grow at altitudes where no other tree has life chances. I see in the birch a property, a quality that I recognize in a human being who goes on and on and does not forsake, not quit, not even in the most harsh conditions or cicumstances. Higher up in the mountains the stems of the birch trees are thinner, lesser and lesser massive, and the trees are lesser tall. More higher the stems are so fragile that the tree is hanging over and will keep finally a fixed position, in the direction in which the wind pushes the tree during its growth. Higher up in the mountains the tree is not more than a shrub. But still present. What a power!

Photo: replica of a painting of 1849 with the title: “Birch tree in a storm”, created by the Norwegian Johan Christian Dahl. 
 
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When spring is there the tree “knows” exactly how to manage the growth process very quickly from the full winter passivity to the full spring activity, to create buttons, flowers, leaves, to expand. This has a reason. In the Norwegian mountains, for example, it is quite fast summer after a very short spring of hardly a week, and then again it is too fast autumn and winter. The summers are short, so nature must complete a huge complete program in a relatively short time. The birch collects moisture throughout the year in the roots, enriched moisture absorbed by the tree out of the soil, with all its natural nutritious substances. Those juices are pumped up in the spring, in the birch, for new buds, twigs, catkins (the inflorescence of the birch), leaves, for the growth of the tree, the trunk, new bark. The strength of this process, is trapped in its entirety in the juices, and it is, therefore, that these juices are so healthy.

Birch

 

In spring, when the stored birch sap is pumped up from the roots, it is time to drain the birch tree. It is also in spring that we have to detox and revitalize our body, after a long winter with not enough sunlight, fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh air and physical training.

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Birch sap

Birch sap contains substances that are proved to be healthy because of its stimulating effect on the kidneys and liver and therefore stimulating to detoxify the body. It works as a diuretic, i.e. it stimulates the urine production operation through better kidney function. Through improved liver function the blood will be cleansed, and fat can be burnt.

Active substances: Birch juice contains natural carbohydrates, organic acids, fruit acids, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, sodium, iron and copper, vitamins B (group), vitamin C.

More birch products via essential oils and mother tinctures

The use of essential oil is practiced in natural medicine, especially in aromatherapy. Essential oil is also used in cosmetics and body care products.

The essential oil can be extracted from birch tar oil by steam distillation. The leaf oil, extracted from the leaf buds, is pale yellow, with a woody balsamic scent. The purified birch tar oil is brownish-yellow with a smoky, tarry leather scent, and is highly prevalent.

Essential oils (used in aromatherapy) and mother tinctures (phyto-therapy products in general) are medicinal remedies. It is therefore not wise to experiment with the production or use. There is specialized knowledge needed to create a good product, and therefore the production of medicinal natural health remedies belongs to the professionals, to the experts. In order to make the correct diagnosis and to give the right advice about a disease or disorder an acknowledged naturopath is absolutely necessary.

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Additional information and sources

The birch

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What is naturopathic medicine?

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The birch and allergies / De berk en allergieën / het paraberk syndroom

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Harvesting Birch Bark

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The birch in mythology, witchcraft and traditional folk stories

 

BirchTreeWoman

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Birch sap

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The birch in Music and Art

 

 

The original post was published on December 21, 2014

About Multerland

Multerland collects and creates educational information via blog posts, links, articles, books, films, photos, videos, and tweets about care for nature, natural health, holistic medicine, holistic therapies, deep ecology, biodynamic farming, sustainability, climate change, life processes, spirituality, awareness, mindfulness.
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