Birch bark the modern miracle
The Silver Birch tree (Betula pendula) has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Now new research has shown that a component of the bark of the Birch has the capacity to treat many of the ailments that face 21st century society.
Centuries ago, in the highlands of Scotland, kilted men with blood curdling hairstyles, uncompromising nobbly knees, and a wanton disregard for grammar would tap the Silver Birch for its sap and drink it as a treatment for bladder and kidney complaints. The leaves have also been used as medicine and so has the bark. It is this papery bark which contains an essential oil that in turn contains a substance known as betulin: it is this betulin that has caught the attention of researchers recently.
The researchers found that mice who were given betulin had lowered cholesterol, reduced incidence of diet-induced obesity, improved insulin sensitivity, and were less likely to develop plaques in their arteries.
In the research mice who were on a Western style diet that was high in fat were given either betulin, the cholesterol lowering statin drug â€œlovastatinâ€, or a placebo. Both the statin and the betulin led to less weight gain. Betulin also lowered fat levels in the liver, blood and fat tissue. The mice on betulin also became more sensitive to insulin and it is of course, lack of sensitivity to insulin that is a feature of type 2 diabetes.
In summary, betulin seems to be counteracting some of the key metabolic problems of our time.
The way that betulin works is by targeting some proteins known as sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs). These SREBPs are involved in activating genes that encourage the manufacture of cholesterol, fatty acids, and triglycerides.
Betulin is already used in the manufacture of other drugs and it has low toxicity levels so you can bet that you will see drugs available soon. Or you could try the balanced, buffered and synergistic form of betulin close to as it exists in nature in herbal medicines made from Silver Birch bark. Itâ€™s revolutionary thinking, but natureâ€™s innate wisdom might just work.