Birch

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What other names is Birch known by?

Abedul, Arbre de Sagesse, Betula, Betula alba, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula verrucosa, Betulae Folium, Biole, Bois à Balais, Boulard, Bouleau Blanc, Bouleau Odorant, Downy Birch, Sceptre des Maîtres d'École, Silver Birch, White Birch.

What is Birch?

Birch is a tree. The leaves of the tree, which contain lots of vitamin C, are used to make medicine.

Birch is used for infections of the urinary tract that affect the kidney, bladder, ureters, and urethra. It is also used as a diuretic to increase urine output. Some people take birch along with lots of fluids for "irrigation therapy" to flush out the urinary tract.

Other uses include treating arthritis, achy joints (rheumatism), loss of hair, and skin rashes. Birch is also used in "Spring cures" for "purifying the blood."

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Skin growths from sun damage (actinic keratosis). Early research suggests that applying a birch bark ointment for 2 months to the affected areas can help clear actinic keratoses.
  • Arthritis.
  • Hair loss.
  • Rashes.
  • Conditions of the urinary tract.
  • Achy joints (rheumatism).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of birch for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Birch work?

Birch leaves contain chemicals which increase water loss through the urine.

Are there safety concerns?

Birch is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth or applied to the skin for short periods of time.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking birch if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Allergy to wild carrot, mugwort, celery, and other spices: Birch pollen might cause allergies in people who are sensitive to wild carrot, mugwort, and celery. This has been called the "celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome." Birch pollen might also cause allergies in people who are sensitive to certain other plants, including apples, soybeans, hazelnuts, and peanuts.

High blood pressure: There is some concern that birch leaf might increase the amount of salt (sodium) that the body retains, and this can make high blood pressure worse.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Water pills (Diuretic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Birch seems to work like "water pills" by causing the body to lose water. Taking birch along with other "water pills" might cause the body to lose too much water. Losing too much water can cause you to be dizzy and your blood pressure to go too low.

Some "water pills" include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, Hydrodiuril, Microzide), and others.

Dosing considerations for Birch.

The appropriate dose of birch depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for birch. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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