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Birch leaves - health benefits, usage and side effects


urinary tract infections


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Birch trees (Betula spp.) originate in Europe, parts of Asia and the Northern Hemisphere, in the northern regions of temperate ecosystems and subarctic climates. Globally, there are more than fifty types of birches. The leaves of this tree, as well as the bark and buds of trees are often used in traditional medicine to relieve joint pain, kidney stones, bladder stones and urinary tract infections. More information about the benefits, but also possible side effects, can be found in our article.

General information on birch trees and leaves

"Birch leaf" is the common name for the leaves of the betula pendula roth tree or Betula pubescens Ehrh.  [Ref. 1]  The genus Betula, colloquially known as birches, is composed of about 120 different species of small to medium-sized deciduous trees and shrubs with thin leaves.

Throughout history, birch bark has been used in the practices of traditional medicine by the indigenous peoples of North America to treat superficial wounds by applying the bark directly to the skin. The birch leaf, in turn, was used as a mild diuretic for the dew of the urinary tract, especially in inflammations and cases of blockage of the kidneys. It is also used as an aid in the treatment of bacterial infections and spasmodic urinary tract disorders.

Ayurvedic health benefits of birch leaves

In The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, phytotherapist David Hoffman writes: "Birch leaves are an effective remedy for cystitis and other urinary system infections and help remove excess water from the body.  [ref. 2] Perhaps because of this purifying and diuretic activity, the plant has been used to treat gout, rheumatism and mild arthritic pain. With urinary tract infections, tea can be prepared, with several leaves boiled in a glass of water for 5-10 minutes. Tea is consumed unsweetened.

Some of the other areas of application for which there is evidence that birches and their components have a beneficial effect are:

  • Blood purifier: Use a tablespoon of inner birch bark with one glass of boiling water. Take one glass a day.
  • Analgesic: Birch essential oil can be applied externally to relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, abdominal cramps, gout, rheumatism and other pains.
  • Wounds: Boil the bark in a little water and use the liquid for wound cleaning.
  • Baldness: The decoction of leaves can be used as a means of rinsing hair.
  • Arthritis: Prepare for the decoction 1 teaspoon birch bark and 1 teaspoon dandelion root (Radix Taraxaci). Add 1 slice of grated ginger root (Zingiber officinale). Keep it low. Turn off the heat when it boils. Drink half a cup when it cools down. Do not use this medicine if you are sensitive to analgesics.
  • Septicaemia: Take an equal amount of nettle root (Urtica dioica L.), horseradish leaves (Equisetum arvense L.), birch leaves, dandelion leaves. Prepare a potion. Take one glass once a day.
  • Kidney stones: Boil one tablespoon of birch leaves in half a glass of water for 10 minutes. Leave to stand for 2 hours. Add half a tablespoon of baking soda. Take one glass a day.
  • Gallstones: Take dandelion root, milk thistle (Silybum marianum), birch leaves and nettle leaves in equal quantities. Make tea by boiling all these herbs together and drinking regularly to prevent kidney and bile stones. 

Possible side effects when using birch leaves

People who are allergic to wild carrots, wormwood, celery and other spices may react to birch pollen. This pollen can also cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to other plants such as apples, soybeans, hazelnuts and peanuts.

Side effects reported with birch leaf medicines include:

Birch leaves should not be used in patients with a decreased renal or cardiac function. Pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid the use of birch leaves. It should also be taken into account that birch leaves can lead to an increase in the amount of salt in the body, which in turn worsens problems with high blood pressure. Therefore, if you have any of these conditions, ask your doctor for advice before taking tea, using in culinary or other things invlonving birch leaves.
  1. General information on birch trees and leaves
  2. Ayurvedic health benefits of birch leaves
  3. Possible side effects when using birch leaves


Birch leaves are traditionally used as a herbal treatment and as an antiseptic for the urinary tract, to relieve arthritic pains and due to their antimicrobial action. Birch leaves can be boiled in tea and taken internally for various health problems, but there are some contraindications, for example, in people with hypertension, pregnant and nursing mothers.


  1. Birch ( Betula spp.)
  2. Medical Herbalism
  3. Medicinal plants of the genus Betula—Traditional uses and a phytochemical–pharmacological review

The author

Bettina Tsvetkova is a Bachelor of Marketing and Master of Entrepreneurship, a fan of healthy eating, power sports and cycling. Author of over 1500 scientifically based articles, product texts and promotional materials on a healthy topic for Bulgarian and foreign websites.


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