From a medical perspective, the extracts from birch trees have long served as a traditional way of helping damaged skin around wounds regenerate quicker and accelerate wound healing. These beliefs were backed up recently by a report from the University of Freiburgs Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. An explanation for the molecular mechanism behind the wound healing effect of an extract from the birch barks outer white layer was recently revealed by Dr. Irmgard Merfort and her associates.
Merfort went on to explain that the substances in birch cause keratinocytes the most common cell type in the skins outermost layer to migrate more rapidly into the wound and close it. This finding is considered significant as the search for more safe and efficient ways to help heal wounds continues.
The findings were published in the journal Plos One and details the phases of wound healing.
The First Phase Of Wound Healing
- Damaged skin cells release certain substances that lead to temporary inflammation.
- They attract phagocytes which remove foreign bacteria and dead tissue.
The researchers determined that the birch bark extract particularly the main ingredient betulin temporarily increases the amount of these inflammatory substances. The natural substance activates proteins that extend the half-life of the messenger ribonucleic acid.
A gene must first be translated into mRNA for the blueprint of a protein to be ready for the genome. The substance triples the time in which the mRNA of a particular messenger remains stable. This messenger enables more of the protein in this example the inflammatory substances to be produced. The birch bark extract and betulin also stabilize the mRNA of further messengers.
The Second Phase Of Wound Healing
- The skin cells migrate and close the wound. The natural substance aids in this process.
- The birch cork extract and its components betulin and lupeol - activate proteins that are involved in the restructuring of the actin cytoskeleton which gives the cells its shape with the help of the structural protein actin. In this way the substances from the birch cause keratinocytes the most common type of cell in the outermost layer of skin to migrate more quickly into the wound and close it.
The leaves of the birch tree contain lots of vitamin C and are used to make medicine. WebMD cites that birch is also used for infections of the urinary tract that affect the kidney, bladder, ureters and urethra. It is also used as a diuretic to increase urine output. Some people take birch along with lots of fluids for irrigation therapy to flush out the urinary tract because birch leaves contain chemicals which increase water loss through urine.
Birch is also used in Spring cures and for purifying the blood. Other uses include treating arthritis, achy joints, skin rashes and hair loss.