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Medicial Mistakes Quiz
How many people each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death after a hospital visit?
romatherapy Materia Medica

(Betula lenta)

© Kathi Keville, Mindy Green
 (Excerpted from Aromatherapy)

This North American tree is the common source of Wintergreen oil, with which it shares similar chemistry, properties and fragrance. The formula for the popular 19th-century "Russian Leather" men's fragrance (so named because it kept book bindings soft) was closely guarded, but we now know it was mostly birch oil.

Family: Betulaceae
Extraction: Distilled from the inner bark after maceration in warm water. Sweet, sharp scent like some candies.
Medicinal Action: Birch is a muscular and arthritic pain reliever, a diuretic and a circulatory stimulant.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Birch is a skin softener that soothes irritation and psoriasis and helps prevent dandruff.
Considerations: Use this slightly toxic oil carefully and, because it smells like candy, be sure to store it safely away from children.

Associated Oils:
Birch Tar Oil --The thick tar is produced from the destructive distillation of bark, which involves burning and steam distillation, and produces a smoky odor. It is used on skin infections and infestations.
White Birch (B. alba) --This Northern European oil has different, less toxic, chemistry with similar properties.
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) --Native to northeastern North America, but a small and not very abundant tree, true wintergreen oil is rarely available and potentially toxic in large doses.

About The Author
Kathi Keville has studied herbs since 1969. Her attraction to fragrant plants led to an involvement in aromatherapy. Her other books include Herbs for Health and Healing;......more
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