Once again when considering what Sweet Birch’s Inner Nature might be, I turn to what the Folklore and Historical Uses can tell us. Perhaps our first clue is that it Birch is often referred to as a pioneer species. Apparently birch was among the first trees to recolonize after the huge glaciers of the last ice age receded. Birch is often called a pioneer species. The fact that Birch is a highly adaptive tree and can easily repopulate areas damaged by forest fires or clearings might give us our second clue.
In Celtic mythology birch symbolizes renewal and purification. So much so, that at the start of the Celtic year, Samhain, which coincides with Halloween, bundles of birch twigs to drive out the spirits of the old year. Our third clue. The symbolic Celtic meaning of the Birch tree is Growth; Renewal; Stability; Initiation and Adaptability and these can certainly give us keywords to consider as we decipher Sweet Birch’s Inner nature. While a fourth might be its long average lifespan, around 100 years, with a maximum lifespan of around 150 years.
Sweet Birch’s effectiveness in dealing with physical aches and pains highlights is strong analgesic properties. When used energetically this translates to Sweet Birch being effective in easing emotional pain, particularly pain that is old and very deep.
Certainly, one of the times I might consider adding Sweet Birch to a blend I am creating so support someone emotionally, is if they are in a position of starting something new, particularly if they are going to be pioneering and looking for new ways to do things. Another might be when I see someone who is having trouble letting go of old deeply entrenched emotional hurts.
It is important to remember that there is a contraindication to using birch or wintergreen for anyone who is taking an anti-coagulant like warfarin. https://westcoastaromatherapy.com/articles/interactions-eos-coumadin/
Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)
Plant Description: Sweet Birch is a tree that grows to a height of ab out 25 meters. Native to southern Canada and the south-eastern USA.
History/Folklore: Used in an infusion the bark can be a general stimulant and promotes sweating. It is a favourite flavoring for ‘root beer’.
Extraction: The bark if first macerated in warm water and then steam distilled to extract the essential oil.
Aroma: Intense, sweet-woody, wintergreen-like aroma.
Odour intensity: Medium.
Perfume Note: Top.
Blends well with: Eucalyptus, fir, myrtle, juniper, lavender, orange, pine and rosemary.
Chemistry: The ester, methyl salicylate, forms over 90+% of the chemical makeup of Sweet Birch.
Cautions: Do not use if taking anti-coagulants. The high methyl salicylate content is contradicts its use. It can be a skin irritant. It should also be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. When considering which oil you have, do keep in mind that there are a couple of other essential oils, like birch bud and birch tar that are produced from a different species of birch. These essential oils have different physical and chemical characteristics and are not used for aromatherapy purposes.
On a physical level it is used a lot in pain relief applications for arthritis, sore and stiff muscles, joint pain and headaches.
With its calming and uplifting properties, on a psychological level, Sweet Birch can have an invigorating and arousing effect on the mind.
On a subtle level, Birch can ease emotional pain that is old and very deep.
Reference Tony Burfield, Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours & Origins, 2000 Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol V, 1948 reprinted 1972 Beverley Hawkins, Essential Oils and Carriers, Aromatherapy 101, Aromatherapy 201, Aromatherapy 301, 1999-2018 Julia Lawless, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Sourcebook, 2017 Tisserand and Young, 2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, 2014 Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition, New World Library, Novato, California, 1991, 2016