Birch water, also known as birch sap, comes from the trees of the plant genus Betula, better known as birch trees. In Northern Europe and China, birch water has been consumed for centuries for its health benefits. It is also used in cosmetics and other skin care products. In recent years, birch sap has become a real trendy drink that is said to have many health benefits to offer. Read on to learn more about birch water and its uses.
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Birch water: what is it?
You have never heard of birch water? This is the sap that is extracted from the trunks of birch trees in early spring. During the winter, birch trees store nutrients that are later released in their sap. When tapped, birch water is a clear, colorless liquid with a slightly sweet taste. After 2-3 days it begins to ferment and develops a slightly sour taste.
Birch water is either drunk pure or processed into other beverages such as syrup, beer or wine. Nowadays it is also available online and in drugstores. However, it is important to note that birch juices offered on the market are made from processed birch water and often contain sugar and flavorings. This makes them more durable. In its pure state, the juice spoils after a few days.
Is birch water healthy?
Birch water is believed to have several health benefits. It contains numerous nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals. Many factors affect its nutrient composition, including geographic location, soil type, and even the specific species and age of the tree. Nevertheless, birch sap is generally low in calories and sugar, while rich in nutrients such as magnesium and manganese.
A 300-milliliter bottle contains:
- Calories: 9
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Sugar: 3 g
- Calcium: 2% of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 95% of the daily requirement
- Manganese: 130 % of the daily requirement
- Zinc: 3 % of the daily requirement
Studies have also shown varying amounts of phosphorus, potassium, folic acid, vitamin C and copper. In addition, birch water contains small amounts of amino acids and large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress in the body. So, on the basis of these ingredients, birch water can be described as healthy, but the stated health benefits have not yet been scientifically proven.
How is the birch sap obtained?
The birch sap is obtained directly from the tree trunk by drilling into it. It is enough to drill about two-three centimeters deep through the bark of the tree. Since the sap flows upward, the hole can be drilled at a slight upward angle for better flow. Instead of the trunk, a large branch can be drilled to extract the sap. Then simply insert a small tube (or thin hose) into it and hold a suitable container underneath. The sweet-tasting liquid will begin to flow directly into the container. After the sap is harvested, you need to close the tree wound with a twig, for example.
Per year, a birch tree can produce up to 500 liters of sap. However, you should not tap more than 5-10 liters, and then give the tree a break for at least two years.
When to tap birch water?
You cannot tap birch sap at any time. The right time to harvest birch sap is after the tree awakens from winter dormancy. Depending on the weather, this happens either in early spring or at the latest in first spring. At this time, the leaf buds begin to swell and the male flower catkins begin to bloom. Sap forms in the roots of the tree over the winter and begins to flow down the trunk into the branches as temperatures rise in the spring. Therefore, this is the best time to tap the birch sap. Birch water can flow strongly for up to two weeks.
The freshly harvested birch sap must be stored in the refrigerator, otherwise it will quickly become cloudy and begin to ferment. However, even in this case, the shelf life is only a few days. You can freeze the birch water in stock to increase its shelf life.
Effect of birch water
Natural birch water, obtained directly from the birch tree trunk, is rich in vitamin C and its intake can thus have a health-promoting effect. The valuable birch sap is said to still have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects. It can lower high cholesterol levels and purify the body. In cosmetics, birch water is still used as a remedy for cellulite and is also used in hair care.
What is the juice of birch good for?
The effect of birch water has not yet been scientifically proven, but many positive properties are attributed to birch juice. We summarize the most important of them below.
- Because of its high vitamin C content, birch water is said to strengthen the immune system.
- Birch sap contains birch sugar (xylitol), which does not affect insulin levels and is therefore well suited for diabetics. Xylitol is also considered tooth-friendly and can counteract the formation of tooth decay.
- Birch sap is known to promote skin health. Thanks to its vitamin C content, birch water should stimulate collagen production and keep skin strong, hydrated and elastic. It should also protect the skin from UV rays, preventing wrinkles and other signs of aging.
- For healthy, full hair, the birch juice can also be used as a hair treatment.
Important: The stated effect of birch water is based only on the vitamins and minerals it contains. Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of birch sap is lacking.
What does birch water do for the hair?
Birch water can be used as a kind of hair treatment. It is massaged into the scalp, thus providing it with many valuable nutrients. By using birch sap for hair, dandruff can be prevented and hair growth can be promoted. However, it is not a miracle cure for hair. Basically, regular use can provide fuller and healthier looking hair.
Birch water application
Perhaps the best known and easiest method of using birch water is direct ingestion. Depending on what the natural remedy is used for, it can also be applied topically.
Drinking birch water
If you are one of the lucky few who can tap the birch water yourself, you may be asking yourself if it is possible to drink the birch water straight. The answer is yes. About 50 milliliters per day over the course of three weeks with a week’s break in between is recommended as a cure. However, oral intake is not recommended for people with intestinal problems.
Apply birch sap to the face
If you want to use birch water for beautiful skin, you should put some of it on a cosmetic pad and treat the affected areas with it. This is said to help against skin blemishes and tighten the skin.
Birch water is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation. However, due to limited research, the possible side effects are not fully known.
In a study of birch pollen allergy sufferers, it was found that about 40% of participants reacted positively to birch sap. Therefore, individuals who are allergic to birch pollen should be cautious when using birch water.
It is also advisable to keep intake within certain limits, as birch water carries the risk of manganese poisoning. This can be especially dangerous for people with impaired liver function. The German Nutrition Society has established an estimate for adequate intake of manganese, which is 2-5 mg per day. Note that a single 300 ml serving of birch water contains 3 mg of manganese, which means that the requirement can be met from this alone, without including intake from other sources.
Birch water is obtained from the sap of the birch tree and contains numerous minerals and antioxidants. It is especially rich in manganese and magnesium and is low in calories and sugar. It may even improve skin and hair health, but more research is needed.
You can buy birch water from the drugstore or online, but keep in mind that some brands may contain sugar and artificial flavors. Therefore, you should always carefully read the label of each product.