Betulin from the bark breeze
Birch Bark has been used for medicinally for centuries. Birch Bark contains betulin and betulinic acid, which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Traditionally, Birch Bark is used to relieve headaches, reduces fevers, eliminates excess water, thins the blood and combats urinary tract infections. The only active ingredient in Aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, was originally derived from the bark of willow, birch and poplar trees. It is the natural forerunner of synthetic aspirin, and has been invaluable for relieving headaches and general, overall pain. Traditional healers also use Birch Bark to reduce the inflammation of rheumatism, arthritis, edema and gout. The U.S.F.D.A. has approved the Birch Bark for the treatment of warts. Birch can also be used to soothe itchiness and scalp sores. Salicylic acid, a type of beta hydroxy acid, is found in Birch and is included in many topical acne remedies. Salicylic acid helps to break down whiteheads and blackheads. Folklore remedies praise Birch Bark herbal extract as a natural herbal diuretic. It is especially effective against joint pain and urinary tract infections. Topically, it was used for sores, bruises, burns, warts, eczema, boils and in a hair rinse to stimulate hair growth. Studies are being done on all aspects of this pretty little tree that may make prostate cancer a thing of the past.
Used in its aspirin form, Birch Bark is a blood thinner and is included in many heart-ailment regimens. The American Cancer Society has published information indicating that researchers believe betulinic acid, which can be extracted from Birch Bark, can cause some types of tumor cells to start a process of self-destruction. They also believe this acid slows the growth of melanoma (a form of skin cancer) and other types of tumor cells. German studies concluded that betulinic acid showed anti-tumor activity against cells from certain types of nervous system cancers in children. A study done at Weill Cornell Medical College found that the acid found in Birch Bark, betulinic acid, can kill cancer cells and is predominately helpful in prostate cancer and inhibited the growth of human prostate cancer cells by nearly 96%. The very compound that makes Birch Bark white has been linked to treatment for such devastating human ailments as some melanomas or cancer. The bottom line is that unpronounceable things inhibits proliferation, migration and induces apoptosis in cancer cells. Or in simple language prevents cancer cells from growing, spreading and convinces them to kill themselves. Up to this study we thought of betulinic acid only in terms of skin cancer but research tested it on a host of cancer cells and found it to be useful in the treatment of neuroblastoma, rabdomyosarcoma-medulloblastoma, glioma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma, as well as in primary cultures isolated from ovarian carcinoma and cervical carcinoma.
Considered an effective natural diuretic that promotes urine flow it has been used to rid the body of excess water and ease bloating and has been helpful in combating urinary tract infections, cystitis, prostatitis and kidney stones. Through diuresis, it eliminates uric acid, toxins and water from the tissues, which has an important role in eliminating cellulite and obesity. Also due to its diuretic quality it is also used in treating rheumatism, gout, edema, mild arthritic pain, inflammations of the bladder and in expelling worms. Herbalists have long recommended Birch Bark extract for dissolving kidney stones.
Used as a diaphoretic, it produces perspiration (cleansing toxins from the body through the skin) and helps to cool the body and reduce fever, making it helpful for easing the discomforts of colds and other viral infection symptoms and chronic sinusitis. The bactericides of the bark manage to eliminate pathogens of typhoid fever, tuberculosis and diphtheria. Also in internal use, it is used for easing headaches produced by hyperzotomy, dizziness, allergies and for tonifying the nervous system.
As an antiviral, researchers have claimed that betulinic acid extracted from Birch Bark slows the growth of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. Betulin is also being tested for its effectiveness in the treatment of respiratory syncytical virus (RSV), which can cause severe cold-like symptoms and pneumonia as well as for skin cancer and brain tumors, especially in children. Birch bark has been used as a treatment for the herpes virus, which can cause cold sores, genital infections, chickenpox, shingles, infectious mononucleosis, and are thought to play a role in multiple sclerosis and Karposi's sarcoma which is the cancer that often puts someone with AIDS over the edge. Betuline-based treatments were several times more effective than the current herpes treatment. The unique biology of betulin and betulinic acid have also shown to help protect the liver from toxic chemicals, and help reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Native Americans have used Birch Bark as a folk remedy for centuries in a tea and other beverages to treat stomach and intestinal problems such as diarrhea and dysentery. Birch Bark does not cause the gastrointestinal side effects that aspirin causes, and, in fact, soothes stomach upsets. It is used as an absorbent in cases of diarrhea, flatulence, poisoning and gastrointestinal diseases with increased concentration of acid. Birch Bark liquid herbal extracts have anti-ulcer effects, with applications in gastric stomach ulcers and skin diseases.
When used topically in salves, poultices, and liniments it has provided great relief for bruises, burns, acne, eczema, bleeding gums, wounds, skin eruptions (boils and sores) and psoriasis. The salicylates pass through the skin, entering the tissues to inhibit the formation of prostaglandins, thereby reducing pain and inflammation, helpful for treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. It has a detoxifying effect, helping to remove toxins from the blood, improving overall health and relieving problems with joint inflammation. Birch bark can treat pain due to arthritis, backaches and minor injuries. It is often used in formulations to open breathing passages, as it can clear the sinuses and stimulate the mind when inhaled. Used in a hair rinse, it stimulates hair growth, strengthen roots and prevents dandruff.
Birch Bark can act as a gentle herbal sedative, therefore in can help in cases of sleeplessness and insomnia to help you have a good night's sleep.
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