Birch essential oil is a rare oil extracted from the bark of birch trees. This oil is widely recognized as a useful tool in treating aches and pains associated with arthritis and intense workouts. The health benefits of birch essential oil go far beyond pain relief. This essential oil can help uplift your spirit as part of aromatherapy and deliver clear, beautiful skin when used topically.
Birch oil was popular among early European settlers and Native Americans in the 1700s. It was used during these times as a pain reliever and to mask the smell of stinky quarters. Today birch oil is a popular ingredient in men’s fragrances and in the skin care industry. Diluted amounts of birch oil are also used extensively as flavoring agents in toothpaste, root beer and gum.
What Is Birch Essential Oil?
Birch essential oil, also known as sweet birch oil, has been used for centuries as a pain reliever for sore muscles. This oil contains high concentrations of methyl salicylate, which are responsible for its health benefits. Methyl salicylates feature a cooling, menthol effect and are responsible for the wintergreen scent and pain alleviating powers of birch oils.
Birch oil is derived from two types of birch trees, which are part of the Betulaceae family. White birch or silver birch essential oils come from the Betula pendula tree. The more popular variety is known as sweet birch, cherry birch, mahogany birch or black birch. These essential oils are derived from birch trees known by the botanical name Betula lenta.
Birch trees are deciduous and feature serrated leaves with a smooth, silvery bark. Most birch essential oils are cultivated in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Both types of birch essential oils are extracted from the bark of the trees through a process of steam distillation. The highest quality oil producers soak the birch bark in water for at least 10 to 12 hours prior to extraction.
Birch essential oil boasts a wintergreen fragrance. In fact, birch oil is used in many of the same ways as wintergreen essential oil. The birch scent profile features moderate notes and boasts a sharp, refreshing aroma. Birch oil’s cooling scent is both uplifting and soothing. Birch essential oil blends well with woodsy essential oils such as sandalwood, rosemary and cypress. To increase the uplifting effects of birch essential oil, combine with citrusy oils such as orange and bergamot.
Birch Essential Oil Health Benefits and Uses
Birch essential oil can help sore muscles and achy joints feel better. This essential oil increases circulation and relieves headaches caused by tension and stress. Birch oil can also reduce swelling thanks to anti-inflammatory properties that stimulate the circulatory system. Birch essential oil boasts anti-rheumatic properties that make it particularly suitable for alleviating pain associated with arthritis.
How to Use: Sports Massage Oil and Bath Oil
For sports massage oil, grab your preferred bottle size and create a 2 percent dilution of birch oil. We like to add 6 drops each of birch oil and spearmint essential oil to a 2-ounce container. Fill the rest of the container with jojoba oil and shake well before use. Heat the oil for 15 seconds in the microwave for hot oil that deepens pain relief for achy muscles.
Soak your pain away in a steamy hot birch essential oil bath. Add 3 drops each of birch oil and avocado oil to a warm bath. Soak for 15 minutes.
Birch oil has been used for hundreds of years as an astringent. Birch oil contains chemical compounds that effectively tone and tighten skin. In addition, the antioxidants in birch essential oil help to fight off free radicals — preventing signs of premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Birch oil contains the active ingredients salicylic acid and methyl salicylate. These two compounds are commonly used in skin care products. Both of these compounds boast germicidal and antibacterial properties that cleanse and protect skin. Birch oil can help to prevent fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and bacteria build-up that can lead to breakouts.
Birch essential oil can also help to alleviate symptoms of skin disease such as psoriasis and eczema. These diseases can cause rough, scaly dry patches that are extremely itchy. Slaves and lotions containing birch essential oil can help replenish skin’s moisture content, lessening the irritation caused by psoriasis.
How to Use: Toner, Sugar Scrub and Face Wash
To even out skin tone, add 2 drops of birch essential oil and 2 drops carrier oil to a cotton ball. Gently swipe over clean, damp skin after showering. You can also add a few drops of birch essential oil to your face wash or micellar water to use as a cleanser.
Remove dead skin cells and brighten skin by using birch oil to create a sugar scrub. Combine 4 drops birch essential oil with 5 drops each of cypress, orange and cedarwood essential oils. Mix in half a cup of granulated sugar and a quarter cup of jojoba oil. Store in a brown glass jar and apply to wet skin in the shower.
Detoxifies the Body
Pure birch oil contains the compounds betulenol and butylene. Both of these compounds promote urination, which helps the kidneys to eliminate toxins and waste products of the digestive system. Your skin absorbs these chemical compounds helping to cleanse your kidneys. Birch essential oil can be beneficial for alleviating kidney stones and preventing conditions such as gout.
How to Use: Birch Skin Salve
To reap the digestive powers of birch oil, rub 1 to 2 drops in combination with carrier oil on your stomach. Gently massage in a circular motion and make sure to inhale the aromas. For faster digestive effects, consume birch tea or add birch sap as a sweetener to your favorite beverage.
In Ayurveda and aromatherapy, birch oil is often referred to as a support oil. Support oils feature fragrances that help to promote happy feelings and can soothe stress. The minty aroma invokes feelings of calm while earthy notes help to ground emotions. Inhale this essential oil to induce feelings of strength and promote emotional wellbeing.
How to Use: Meditation and Aromatherapy
Use birch essential oil to lift your spirits if you’re feeling sad or lonely. Simply add 2 drops of birch essential oil to your diffuser and inhale deeply. Add in deep breathing techniques or use as part of meditation for the best results.
Side Effects of Birch Essential Oil
Birch oil is best used as part of aromatherapy or topically in small amounts. This essential oil has a shelf life of 3 to 5 years so make sure to check expiration dates if you’ve had a bottle for a long time. While side effects are minimal, there are a few things to watch out for when using birch essential oil.
Birch oil is almost exclusively made of methyl salicylate, which is toxic when taken orally. Never ingest pure birch essential oil and avoid using on large areas of your skin. Consuming birch essential oil can lead to serious side effects including heart and respiratory system problems. When using topically, always apply birch essential oil in combination with carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil.
If you have allergies to birch trees or sensitive skin, avoid using birch oil. Some research has shown birch oil can promote menstruation resulting in miscarriages. Talk to your doctor before using birch essential oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Birch oil can also have negative side effects for people who have bleeding disorders or take blood thinners.
Buy Quality Essential Oils
Quality matters when it comes to essential oils. Just because an oil claims to be all-natural or pure doesn’t mean it really is. Some low-quality essential oils can even contain dangerous contaminants and chemicals that can be harmful to your health.
Always look for therapeutic grade essential oils from reputable brands. Reputable brands will always list the plant variety the oil comes from as well as where it was grown and produced. Third parties also test high quality oils and quality brands prominently display this information to consumers. For the best health benefits, do your research and only purchase high quality birch essential oil from a brand you trust.
Relieve Physical and Emotional Pain and Improve Skin With Birch Oil
Birch essential oils are rare oils that can help promote overall well being. Made from the birch tree, these essential oils feature an earthy and wintergreen aroma. Chemical compounds in this oil can alleviate aches and pains and boost your spirit. Use as a massage oil or as an aromatherapy to reap its healthy mood and pain relief benefits. Birch essential oil is also great for your skin. Just apply topically with carrier oil for moisturized, evenly toned skin.