Herbal Folklore & Tradition
Birch buds were formerly used as a tonic in hair preparations. Birch tar is used in Europe for all types of chronic skin complaints: psoriasis, eczema, etc. In Scandinavia the young birch leaflets and twigs are bound into bundles and used in the sauna to tone the skin and promote the circulation. The sap is also tapped in the spring and drunk as a tonic. Buds, leaves and bark are used for ‘rheumatic and arthritic conditions, especially where kidney functions appear to need support. Birch bud oil is used primarily in hair tonics and shampoos, and in some cosmetics for its potential skin-healing effects. The crude tar is used in pharmaceutical preparations, ointments, lotions, etc. for dermatological diseases. It is also used in soap and leather manufacture – rectified birch tar oil provides the heart for many ‘leather’ type perfumes and aftershaves.