Birch - buds, leaves, juice, tar, coal
Specification & Spread
Birch buds — gemmae betulae Birch leaves — folia betulae
Drooping birch — betula pendula roth ( = b. Verrucosa ehrh.)
Downy birch — betula pubescens ehrh.
Birch family — betulaceae
Drooping birch is a deciduous tree with 10-20 m tall with white easily exfoliating bark. In old trees, the base of the stock is black and grey, with deep cracks.
The branches are drooping, the young shoots are reddish-brown, densely planted with resinous glands - warts.
The leaves are alternate, petiolate, with ovate-rhombic, triangular-ovoid or oval-ovate-ovateum, 3-6.5 cm long, 2-5.5 cm wide; the base of the plate is broadly wedge-shaped or truncated, the tip is acuminate; the venation is pinnose.
The edge of the leaf is duplicodentate, with dark brown tips of cloves.
The flowers are small, dioecious (monoecious plants), gathered in drooping earrings.
The fruit is a winged nut (winged), with two membranous wings.
It blooms in May, the fruits ripen in August - September.
White birch is different from drooping bitch. It is shorter, directed upwards and to the sides with branches, soft pubescence of young shoots and ovate-ovate, more leathery leaves with a rounded base.
Spreading. The drooping birch has an extensive Eurasian range, the eastern boundary of which reaches Baikal. The species is common in forest and forest-steppe zones. It is absent in the Far North and South. White birch is spread in the same place where is drooping birch, but goes far further north.
Habitat. Birches form pure and mixed forests, birch groves, are found in different types of forests. Drooping birch grows on dry and wet soils: sandy, loamy, black-earth, stony-gravelly. White birch in its ecology is close to drooping birch, but more adapted to the harsh climatic conditions of the North. It is found in more damp places and comes further to the northeast.
The chemical composition of birch buds
The birch buds contain:
- 3-5.3 (8)% essential oil,
- resinous substances.
The oil is a thick yellow liquid with a pleasant balsamic smell.
The oil contains:
- bicyclic sesquiterpenoids - betulen, betulenol, betulenol acid.
The chemical composition of birch leaves
In the leaves there are found:
- 0.04-0.05% of essential oil,
- ascorbic acid (up to 2.8%),
- triterpene alcohols,
- coumarins (0.44%),
- flavonoids (1.96%),
- tannins (5-9%),
- saponins (up to 3.2%).
Activated charcoal and tar are obtained from birch wood.
The chemical composition of birch tar
The tar (Pix liquida Betulae) is produced by dry distillation of wood.
The composition of the tar include:
- guaiacol and other compounds of this series.
Harvesting and storage of raw materials
Harvesting. The buds are harvested in January - April before their blooming (until the covering scales at the top of the bud). The harvesting should be carried out on forest areas intended for felling or set aside for harvesting brooms, with the permission of forest divisions. The branches are cut off with the buds, it is tied into bunches (brooms) and dried, and after drying the buds are threshed.
The young leaves are harvested in May - June during the flowering of birch, when they are soft, sticky, fragrant.
Drying. The branches with buds are dried for 3-4 weeks in the open air or in a well-ventilated area. The heat drying is unacceptable so that the buds do not germinate. The leaves are air dried in the shade or in attics. Heat drying is allowed at a temperature of 30-35 ºС.
Storage. It is dried in a dry, well-ventilated area on racks or scaffold poles, packed in bags, separately from other types of the raw materials.
External signs of raw materials
The buds are elongated-conical, acuminate or dull, often sticky. The covering scales are tiled, tightly pressed along the edges, slightly ciliate (lower ones shorter than upper ones and sometimes with slightly lagging tips); the buds length is 3-7 mm, the width is 1.5-3 mm.
The colour of the buds is brown, sometimes greenish at the base.
The smell is balsamic, pleasant.
The taste is slightly astringent, resinous.
The leaves are whole or partially crushed, slightly leathery, orthorhombic or broadly ovate with a serrate edge, with brown glands on the underside.
The smell is weak, pleasant.
The taste is bitter, resinous.
The benign green leaves, the presence of yellowed leaves is not allowed.
Properties and application
The pharmacological properties of buds and leaves of birch
The infusions and decoctions of birch buds and leaves have:
- diaphoretic and
- anti-inflammatory effect.
Birch buds tincture (1: 5) shows:
- antimicrobial activity against antibiotic-resistant forms of staphylococci isolated from patients with various forms of purulent infection (mastitis, furunculosis, cellulitis, abscesses, peritonitis).
In the experiment, alcohol preparations from birch leaves are turned out to be active against:
- trichomonas and
- ciliates, while isolated anthocyanins, saponins and polyphenols did not possess this activity.
Antiviral activity was observed in a water-alcohol tincture of birch leaves.
Birch leaves also have anti-inflammatory effects.
The pharmacological properties of birch sap
Birch sap has:
- vitamin and
- enzymatic properties.
Using radiotelemetric studies in patients with gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer, a stimulating effect of birch sap on acid formation was found, especially pronounced with a decrease in the acid-forming function of the stomach.
Birch pollen can be a cause of spring pollinosis.
The pharmacological properties of birch tar
The tar possesses:
- insecticidal and
- local irritating properties.
In domestic medicine, birch has been used for centuries as a remedy.
There are used all its parts:
- birch buds,
- birch juice,
- birch coal.
Application of buds and birch leaves
The buds and leaves of birch are applied:
- with edema of cardiac origin as a diuretic.
In case of functional insufficiency of the buds, this type of treatment is not recommended due to possible irritation of the renal tissue with resinous substances.
Choleretic properties of the leaves are used in diseases of the liver and biliary tract.
In addition, it is used:
- with bronchitis,
- as a disinfectant and expectorant.
Birch preparations are also used for:
- hygienic and
- therapeutic baths.
The infusions and decoctions of the buds and leaves of birch are used in otolaryngology and dentistry as:
- decongestant and
- epithelializing agent
- periodontal disease,
- chronic tonsillitis,
- acute respiratory diseases in the form of gargles and applications of gauze napkins moistened with infusions or decoctions.
Application of birch tar
The tar possesses:
- insecticidal and
- local irritating properties.
It is applied in the form of ointments, liniments, sulfur-tar soap at:
- parasitic and
- fungal skin diseases,
- scaly herpes.
Application of activated carbon
Wood birch (activated) carbon is used for:
- increased acidity of gastric juice,
- with heavy metal poisoning, alkaloids,
- with food intoxication.
Leaves and buds: Hypersensitivity to birch pollen or other plants.