Birch trees (Betula) are usually inhabited in colder regions of the northern hemisphere because they don't do well in hot, dry climates. There are about 60 species of birch. Betula pendula, commonly known as Silver Birch, Warty Birch, or European White Birch, is native to Siberia, China, and southwest Asia. It has a graceful appearance with a bark that changes its texture and color over time. The silvery-white bark looks sophisticated and elegant, but under this beauty lies a solid willfulness for growth where nothing else can. As a result, Siberian birch trees can thrive in harsh conditions, nutrient-depleted soils, and colder climates.
The Silver Birch is almost always one of the first species to regrow. As a result, it is known as a 'regenerative pioneer' – meaning that it can restart the colonization of woodlands after long-term natural disasters such as logging or fire and regenerate damaged ecosystems. This unique quality makes the birch tree a symbol of rebirth, new beginnings, and growth. Thus, the Silver Birch is one of the most sacred trees in Celtic Mythology, symbolizing renewal and purification.
The uses of birch are many and varied. All birch tree parts have been and still are widely used. Folklore and herbalism also attribute to the birch various medicinal and spiritual properties.
☛ Birch Wood
The birch wood is soft-grained, very straight, and good for turning. It's used to make furniture, toys, and household items. For example, babies' cradles were often made of birch wood, drawing on the symbolism of new beginnings, and were believed to protect newborns from malicious spirits. Handmade wooden toys even now delight both children and adults. Many artisans still make birchwood utensils, hair combs, bowls, and other household items, using centuries-old craft techniques.
☛ Birch Twigs
Thin and sturdy birch twigs were used for covering roofs. Birch twig charcoal is as good for gunpowder as more commonly used willow or grapevine. In folk medicine, the birch leaves and twigs are used as an anti-inflammatory analgesic and pain reliever. The twigs are steeped in high-proof alcohol to extract and preserve the wintergreen oil (terpene), containing methyl salicylates. Most broom or besom heads were and still are, made from birch or heather (ling).
☛ Birch Leaves
The birch leaves are diuretic and antiseptic and used by herbalists to remedy cystitis and other urinary tract infections. In addition, the leaves contain lots of vitamin C that stimulates the production of collagen and a substance known as betulinol, which makes them an effective anti-inflammatory ointment. Birch leaves added into a tea help remove excess water from the body. In Europe, a combination of birch and nettle was traditionally used as a hair tonic. Birch leaf infusion is astringent and used for its curative effects on skin eruptions and wet eczema. Simply apply the infusion on the skin as a wash to soothe and heal. We add birch leaves to our HAIR & SKIN Herbal Infusion for maximum effectiveness in improving hair and skin health and pleasant taste.
☛ Birch Sap
Though less sweet than sugar maple sap, birch sap is used to make wine, beer, and table syrup. Similar to the maple, you can boil down birch sap to make a syrup, although the sugar content of birch is 100:1, meaning you will need to boil down 100 gallons of birch sap to get 1 gallon of syrup (sugar maple is a 40:1 ratio). Birch sap, more commonly known as Birch Water, contains various minerals and antioxidants. It's particularly rich in manganese and magnesium while low in calories and sugar.
☛ Birch Bark
In folk medicine, birch bark is often used externally to ease muscle pain (soaked in hot water and laid, tree side down, on the affected limbs). The oils from the bark have strong antiseptic properties and are used to heal skin wounds or infections such as herpes. Birch bark has potent anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-bacterial qualities. Because birch bark has remarkable preservative properties and decays slowly, it can easily be harvested from fallen trees as well, where it still retains its incredible traits. Birch bark is 100% waterproof (yup, that's right, 100% waterproof), super durable, and very flexible, so it naturally makes an excellent material for artisan food containers. But the high content of betulin (a substance with fungicidal properties) makes birch bark really stand out when it comes to food preservation. Birch bark is a natural antiseptic, so the products stored in those containers do not spoil and retain flavor for a long time.
☛ Birch Fungus (Chaga)
The best Chaga is believed to come from subarctic birch forests like those in Siberia. It takes 10-20 years of wild arctic growth for a fungus to reach maturity and become a genuine CHAGA. There are many ways to add chaga to your routine (chaga tea is the most popular way to consume chaga). Chaga is jam-packed with nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. It's also a natural glutathione booster. Regardless of whether or not Chaga is the miracle cure as it is promoted, the abundance of vitamins, essential minerals, and nutrients chaga carries can boost your immune function, improving overall health and wellbeing. Chaga is also a potent antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory properties; it also increases the body's resistance to stress and helps the liver detoxify.
💠 HOW TO MAKE CHAGA TEA
☛ Some enjoy steeping the chaga tea (a.k.a. Mushroom Coffe) by simmering it on the stove over low heat for up to 4 hours. This technique will allow a more bitter, rich, and calming brew.
☛ Others use a Crock-Pot to slowly brew Chaga for 8-12 hours over low heat. This way you will get a very rich and dark tea that almost has the same color and consistency as black ink.
☛ Use 1-2 chunks per 1 qt. (1 liter) of water.
☛ Steep for at least 1 hour in HOT water. (Boiling kills potent elements in Chaga).
☛ When the tea gets dark reddish-brown, it's ready.
✔️ After the steeping is finished, don't throw away the chucks!
☛ You can steep the same chunks twice more after the initial extraction (keep chunks refrigerated between the steepings).
☛ When all the nutrients are exhausted, you can burn dried chunks as incense (it smells like wood burning in a fireplace).
To cool any violent passion, anger, or overreaction, sit alone for a while with your back against the birch trunk. If this isn't possible, take something made of birch in your hands and sit alone and quiet. Its innocent energy will channel your strong feelings into wise ways.