Herbs A-Z: Betula & Calendula


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This week’s herbs are fluid-movers, with drying and tonifying effects. They’re both excellent topical remedies which can also be helpful when taken internally. We prefer water or alcohol extracts of them in most cases, but birch makes a decent infused oil and calendula is excellent in oil.

Betula spp. are birch trees – all the different kinds are similar. Their bark is famous for its salicylate content – mostly in the form of methylsalyicylate, which gives the bark its ‘wintergreen’ scent and exerts substantial anti-inflammatory effects. Birch and wintergreen are our favorites for topical remedies because they have this active, volatile form of salicylate. Birch is also rich in betulin, a constituent with its own anti-inflammatory actions along with antimicrobial and cancer-fighting actions. (Betulin is also found in chaga, because the fungus absorbs it from the birch trees it grows on.)

Calendula officinalis is one of the brightest, sunniest flowers around. Its capacity to move lymphatic fluids is fantastic medicine for fluid bloating in the belly, congested lymph nodes, and to help with “clean-up” work after an illness. It’s a great antifungal herb which does not irritate the underlying tissue. And it’s a hepatoprotective – an herb which protects the liver and helps it function optimally – as well!
These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.

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This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!

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