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Betula alba

* Botanical Ingredient * * Commonly referred to as Birch Extract- the leaf and bark extract of the White Birch Tree.

Known for its skin healing and purifying properties, yet it also functions as an astringent. The shoots and leaves of the plant have been shown to act as a laxative and diuretic, and many consume it orally to treat their gout, rheumatism and kidney stones. In fact, one of the plant's chemical components, Betullinic Acid, is currently being tested as a promising cancer treatment.The water soluble form of the acid inhibited the growth of human prostate cancer cells by nearly 96%, according to a Weill Cornell research team.  Some researchers believe that it has the ability to destroy tumor cells and slow the growth of both HIV and melanoma.

* Botanical Ingredient *

* Commonly referred to as Birch Extract- the leaf and bark extract of the White Birch Tree.

Functions:

Known for its skin healing and purifying properties, yet it also functions as an astringent. The shoots and leaves of the plant have been shown to act as a laxative and diuretic, and many consume it orally to treat their gout, rheumatism and kidney stones. In fact, one of the plant's chemical components, Betullinic Acid, is currently being tested as a promising cancer treatment.The water soluble form of the acid inhibited the growth of human prostate cancer cells by nearly 96%, according to a Weill Cornell research team.  Some researchers believe that it has the ability to destroy tumor cells and slow the growth of both HIV and melanoma.

With regards to skincare, it's often administered as a natural medicinal treatment because it helps facilitate the excretion of fluids and promote metabolic activity. Its anti-inflammatory and skin soothing abilities are often used to treat eczema, psoriasis and warts. Since it conatins vitamins B1, B2, A, C and E, it is also believed to work as an antioxidant. Most people use it in one of four ways: As an infusion, decoction, extract or tincture.

It's usually infused into tea to help fight against the body's internal ailments. As a decoction (mashing the leaves & bark and boiling them in water to extract its herbal oils), it's often added to a bath wash to help treat chronic skin eruptions. Individuals also apply decoctions to the scalp to combat hair loss and dandruff. In cosmetic products, it most commonly appears in the form of an extract, and its oils are often used as a substitute for wintergreen. Sometimes, the leaves and bark of the tree are directly applied to the skin. You may find this ingredient in OTC products such as bath oil, facial moisturizer, shampoo/conditioner, exfoliant/scrub, shaving cream and masks.

Safety Measures/Side Effects:

While the plant's leaves and bark have played a vital role in folk medicine for centuries, both its effectiveness and safety have yet to be adequetely tested. Current research testing its anti-tumor abilities seems promising, though further studies are needed to test its safety with humans.

Because this ingredient can act as an astringent, there's a potential risk of dermal irritation, especially with sensitive and dry skin types. In addition, because Birch extract resembles the chemical composition of aspirin, people with aspirin allergies should avoid this ingredient, as should individuals with poor heart and kidney health. Lastly, because we're not yet aware of this ingredient's full range of effects on humans, experts recommend that it's not used by pregnant women, breast-feeding women or children.

Recommended Products w/ Betula alba:

Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil ($22.50), Terralina Gentle Facial Toner, Simply Organic Scalp Spa Treatment ($20)
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