Birch (Betula spp.)


Birch tree species are common throughout temperate North American, European, and Asian areas. Birch pollen is one of the most common allergens, usually in areas where exposure to high levels of birch pollen is common. The allergen may cause atopic dermatitis, contact urticaria (hives), atopic eczema, asthma, wheezing, allergic conjunctivitis (pinkeye), eye redness, oral-pharyngeal itching, or rhinoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose and the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the eyelids).
There is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of birch for any indication. One study shows that birch bark ointment may be beneficial for actinic keratosis (precancerous condition of thick, scaly patches of skin).

Related Terms

Bet v 1, Bet v 1-fragments, Bet v 1-trimer, Betula, Betula 30c, Betula davurica Pall., Betula ermanii Cham., Betula grossa Sieb. et Zucc., Betula maximowicziana, Betula maximowicziana Regel, Betula nana, Betula nana L., Betula occidentalis, Betula pendula, Betula pendula Roth., Betula papyrifera Marsh., Betula platyphylla var. japonica, Betula platyphylla Sukatchev var. japonica (Miq.) Hara, Betula pubescens Ehrh., Betula verrucosa, Betulaceae (family), betulin, betulinic acid, birch pollen allergen (Bet v 1), downy birch, dwarf birch, Japanese white birch, lupeol, mountain birch, natural birch pollen extract, oleanolic acid, paper birch, rBet v 1, rBet v 2, rBet v 4, recombinant Betula verrucosa (rBet v 1), silver birch, white birch.
Note: This monograph does not cover birch immunotherapy. For more information on immunotherapy, please see the Natural Standard allergy database.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Actinic keratosis (Grade: C)
Birch bark contains a variety of apoptosis (cell death)-inducing and anti-inflammatory substances such as betulinic acid, betulin, oleanolic acid, and lupeol, which may be beneficial in treating actinic keratosis. More study is needed in this area.