Though long used by Native American cultures for healing and uplifting, birch is not commonly known for it’s rich source of therapeutic essential oil.
Birch essential oil offers a cool, fresh aroma along with many health benefits for both physical and psychological well being.. Let’s dive into the uses and benefits of this oil.
Origins and History of Birch Essential Oil
Birch essential oil is made by steam distillation from the bark and twigs of the Betula lenta tree, also known is the black birch, cherry birch, mahogany birch, sweet birch, and spice birch. It is a deciduous tree with bright green leaves and reddish-brown bark native to North America. Originally the black birch was found on the eastern North American coast, from Quebec to Georgia, and west to Alberta, Canada. Now it is grown in cool climates in Europe and Asia, particularly in Russia.
The soothing, camphoraceous smell of birch essential oil may remind you of country doctor house calls, if you are of a certain age, and it was an essential tool in treating joint and muscle pain before the era of pharmaceuticals. Native Americans used birch essential oil for the musculoskeletal system as well as to treat respiratory illnesses and to improve the mood. This knowledge was passed on to early settlers from Europe, and birch essential oil became a vital part of medicine between the 17th and early 20th Centuries.
Today, in addition to essential oil, the Betula lenta tree is used for cosmetics, perfume, chewing gum, toothpaste, root beer, insect repellent, baskets, canoes, flooring, furniture, tools, and “heat” balms to combat muscle and joint pain.
Eight Uses for Birch Essential Oil
Relief from Muscle and Joint Pain
Two of the key chemical compounds found in birch essential oil are salicylic acid and methyl salicylate. These compounds are made synthetically today for pain relief medications. Birch essential oil is ideal for eliminating the pain associated with a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, from arthritis to athletic muscle fatigue. You can use birch essential oil in homemade liniments and massage oils to take advantage of its natural pain-killing properties.
Related: 9 EOs for Sore Muscles / Muscle Pain
Treatment of Neuralgias and Fibromyalgia
Birch essential oil also works to ease nerve pain associated with neuralgias and fibromyalgia. For both of these conditions, most of the pharmaceutical treatments available come with undesirable side effects, unlike birch essential oil, which will not cause grogginess, constipation, or addiction. It can be applied for nerve pain in the manner suggested above for joint and muscle discomfort.
Related: 10 Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia / Fibrositis
Tightening and Toning the Skin
The natural astringent properties of birch essential oil make it perfect for reducing the appearance of pores on the skin and for tightening sagging skin that is the result of childbirth, weight loss, or aging. You can add a small amount of birch essential oil to your existing facial toner or dilute it and swab it on your face. For bodily treatments, add birch essential oil to after bath lotions or oils.
Stimulating the Nervous System
For centuries, people who suffer from depression or bad moods have found that birch essential oil makes them feel better and gives them energy without the side effects of antidepressants.You can use birch essential oil in a diffuser, candle, or inhaler to reap its uplifting benefits.
Fighting Microbes (Germs)
Birch essential oil has inherent antimicrobial properties that make it a good choice to add to wound dressings to fight bacteria and fungi. Native American medicine has used birch essential oil for hundreds of years for this.
Opening the Airway
Inhaling birch essential oil can help open clogged breathing passages from the lungs to the sinuses. You can use an inhaler with birch essential oil in it or even add it to shower or bath bombs when you have a cold or bronchial infection.
Related: 5 EO Remedies for Sinus Infection / Sinusitis
Topical applications of birch essential oil can promote diuresis (urination) when your body is retaining too much water. This helps flush the body of toxins, cleanses filter organs like the kidneys, and assists with undesirable water retention, such as that with menstruation.
The same feeling of heat generated by birch essential oil for muscle pain (due to stimulating circulation) can help rid the body of fever during illness. Using topical birch essential oil can help you sweat out a fever, another use learned from Native American medicine.
4 Health and Wellness Recipes for Birch Essential Oil
Unisex After Shave Lotion
- 7 grams emulsifying wax
- 16 grams grapeseed oil
- 2 grams vitamin E
- 53 grams aloe vera juice
- 20 grams witch hazel
- 2 grams vegetable glycerine
- 4 drops peppermint EO
- 6 drops cedarwood EO
- 1 drop birch EO
- 1 drop vetiver EO
- In a Pyrex cup, melt the emulsifying wax.
- Add the grapeseed oil, vegetable glycerine, and vitamin E. Stir to incorporate.
- Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, mixing gently but thoroughly.
- Store in an airtight cosmetic container.
- Apply after shaving the face or legs for skin tightening and toning, with a fresh, clean scent.
Arthritis Pain Oil Blend
- 5 drops birch EO
- 5 drops eucalyptus EO
- 10 drops lavender EO
- 3 drops peppermint EO
- 5 drops rosemary EO
- approximately 10 ml carrier oil (argan, avocado, coconut, sesame, sweet almond, jojoba, grapeseed, macadamia)
- Mix all the ingredients in a 10 ml glass bottle (roller top optional).
- Roll between the palms to blend.
- Apply to sore joints as needed for pain.
Headache Relief Blend
- 10 drops birch EO
- 10 drops frankincense EO
- 10 drops wintergreen EO
- 30 drops lavender EO
- 30 drops peppermint EO
- 10 ml fractionated (liquid) coconut oil
- Add all the essential oils to a 10 ml glass bottle with a roller top.
- Top with fractionated coconut oil.
- Roll gently between the hands to blend.
- Apply to forehead, temples, and back of neck at the start of a headache to send pain packing.
Fire and Ice Muscle Rub
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 20 drops birch EO
- 20 drops peppermint EO
- 20 drops wintergreen EO
- Mix all of the ingredients until well blended.
- Store in an airtight cosmetic jar (can be recycled from a previous product).
- Apply to muscles before and/or after workouts or whenever you desire to feel icy hot relief.
Tips for Using Birch Essential Oil
Birch essential oil goes well with many of the same scents that work with other woods:
- juniper berry
- white fir
Because of its chemical makeup being so close to that of aspirin, birch essential oil should always be used diluted and should NEVER be taken internally. Extra effort should be made to keep your bottle of birch essential oil away from children, as overdoses of this oil when ingested can be fatal. If you are not permitted to take aspirin or if you are on anticoagulant drugs, consult a physician before using birch essential oil.
Always do a patch test on a small area of skin before using birch essential oil on larger areas. It is better to work with a larger dilution ratio at first and make it smaller later than to start off with too much. A little goes a long way with this essential oil.
Birch essential oil should not be used during pregnancy or when nursing. Other contraindications include a history of seizures, edema, kidney problems, and heart problems.
With its bright, outdoorsy aroma, birch essential oil is ideal for unisex scent concoctions and won’t make your home smell too feminine if you use it in a diffuser, candles, or cleaning products. While you can enjoy birch essential oil any time of the year, it is ideal for bringing nature indoors during cooler weather to make the house feel less stuffy.
Hopefully this post has been helpful for you. If you you have any questions, comments or recommendations of your concerning Birch oil please let us know in the comment section below.