Silver Birch

(Last edited: Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 1:10 PM)

Silver BirchAlso known as:Betula, Betulae folium, Silver Birch, White Birch.

Scientific name:Betula pendula, Betula alba.

Botanical family: Betulaceae.

Parts used: The leaves and bark.

Traditional use. Birch is used as a diuretic, for rheumatic ailments, for cystitis, for arthritis, rheumatism and as an alterative for aiding eliminatory processes.

Safety.

There are no safety concerns when used within the recommended dosages.1

Pregnancy: Consult with a medical herbalist.

Breastfeeding: Consult with a medical herbalist.

Constituents.

Flavonoids; mainly hyperoside, luteolin and quercetin.

Caffeic acid derivatives, including chlorogenic acid.

Monoterpene glucosides; the betula albosides and roseoside.

Saponins; betula triterpenes.

Volatile oil containing betulin, caryophyllenes and methyl salicylate.

Betulenols and their acetates.

Anthocyanins.

Resin;

Tannins. 

Scientific evidence.

No clinical research has been done.

Mechanism of action.

A study offers a rational basis for the use of Betula pendula leaf extract for the treatment of immune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis, by diminishing proliferating inflammatory lymphocytes.5

The aquaretic and possibly saluretic (loss of salt through the kidneys) effects are due to the flavonoid constituents of the birch leaf. Aquaretics increase urine volume (water loss) but not electrolyte excretion.2 The high vitamin C content of the leaf can enhance the effect.3

An extract of betulinic acid may hold promise as an anticancer agent. Some laboratory and animal studies of betulinic acid have reported antitumor activity. Additional studies are under way to find out whether it has a role in treating several forms of cancer, including melanoma and certain brain cancers. Clinical trials are needed to determine what effect, if any, betulinic acid may have in treating cancer in humans.6,7,8,9,10,11,12

Adverse reactions.

None reported. 

Interactions with herbs and supplements:

None known. 

Interactions with drugs:

None known.

Interactions with foods:

None known.

Interactions with laboratory tests:

None known.

Dosage.

Recommended dose: 3-10mls per day 1:5 tincture 30% alcohol.

Infusion: range from 2-3tsps. per day. 

The recommended dose of Dr Clare’s Joint Support Blend provides 3mls per day of 1:3 Tincture in 15mls daily, at a dose of 5mls three times a day.

This is equivalent to 375-750mgs per day.

Dr Clare’s Joint Cleansing Tea provides ½ tsp. per day of peppermint.

Dosage.

Dr Clare’s Blends: 700mgs per day. 

Oral: The typical dose of birch leaf is several times daily as a tea, which is prepared by steeping 2-3 grams of finely cut dried leaf in approximately 150 mL boiling water for 10-15 minutes and straining.4,3 The tea should be taken with plenty of water.3

References.

1.  McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.

2.  Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York, NY: The Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.

3.  Wichtl MW. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Ed. N.M. Bisset. Stuttgart: Medpharm GmbH Scientific Publishers, 1994.

4.  Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Trans. S. Klein. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council, 1998.

5. Gründemann C1, Gruber CW, Hertrampf A, Zehl M, Kopp B, Huber R. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jul 14;136(3):444-51.

An aqueous birch leaf extract of Betula pendula inhibits the growth and cell division of inflammatory lymphocytes.

6. Chintharlapalli S, Papineni S, Ramaiah SK, Safe S. Betulinic acid inhibits prostate cancer growth through inhibition of specificity protein transcription factors. Cancer Res. 2007;67:2816-2823.

7. Eiznhamer DA, Xu ZQ. Betulinic acid: a promising anticancer candidate. IDrugs. 2004;7:359-373.

8. Jung GR, Kim KJ, Choi CH, et al. Effect of betulinic acid on anticancer drug-resistant colon cancer cells. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2007;101:277-285

9. Pisha E, Chai H, Lee IS, et al. Discovery of betulinic acid as a selective inhibitor of human melanoma that functions by induction of apoptosis. Nat Med. 1995;1:1046-1051.

10. Sawada N, Kataoka K, Kondo K, et al. Betulinic acid augments the inhibitory effects of vincristine on growth and lung metastasis of B16F10 melanoma cells in mice. Br J Cancer. 2004;90:1672-1678.

11. Schmidt ML, Kuzmanoff KL, Ling-Indeck L, Pezzuto JM. Betulinic acid induces apoptosis in human neuroblastoma cell lines. Eur J Cancer. 1997;33:2007-2010.

12. Thurnher D, Turhani D, Pelzmann M, et al. Betulinic acid: a new cytotoxic compound against malignant head and neck cancer cells. Head Neck. 2003;25:732-740.

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