Essential Oil for Real Life: Birch

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Essential Oil for Real Life: Birch

I hear a lot of folks talk about Lavender as their go-to essential oil in real life – but in my house, Birch probably gets more play. It’s my default “anti-immflamatory” oil… sore muscles, aches and pains usually get a drop or 2. I use it quite a bit with massage clients as well.
Birch oil isn’t rare, but it can some times be hard to find. Made from the bark of the Birch tree, the essential oil is steam distilled from wood, containing 90+% Methyl Salicylate and is very similar in chemistry to Wintergreen. Harvesting Birch essential oil is a bit more complex than the typical essential oils because the bark has to be macerated and soaked in warm water for 10-12 hours minimum before it can be distilled.
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The yield is very low and the oil is more difficult technically to collect from the distillation because its more dense than water and so the oil layer sinks to the bottom of the collection apparatus instead of floating on top like most essential oils.can be difficult to find. That said, it is not an expensive oil relatively speaking.  What makes it special is that 100% pure Birch essential oil contains both salicylic acid and methyl salicylate.  Both have a cortisone-like quality that reduces discomfort in the muscles, bones, and joints and in addition, are recognized as germicides and bactericides in the world of medicine.

Birch essential oil is an effective anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent, and diuretic. It’s my choice to relieve the pain of arthritis, tendonitis, and severe muscle cramping.

Uses of Birch Essential Oil

Birch has traditionally been used by Native Americans and early European settlers in tea.
It is reported to support a strong circulatory system and promote beautiful skin. Traditionally, applied topically, birch oil was used as an astringent and for centuries was an effective skin toner and tightener.
Birch oil’s stimulating aroma can promote feelings of strength, warmth, as well as groundedness – it can help with feelings of sadness and fear and as well as support processing grief.
The properties in birch essential oil promote comfort and relaxation. Birch can boost your body’s own healing process.
Gently massage 1-2 drops of birch essential oil into the neck and shoulders 2-3 times a day to relieve tension.

Characteristics of Birch Essential Oil

The aroma of birch is interesting. It doesn’t have the same “woody” aroma as other tree oils. Most describe it as minty, like Wintergreen… with my eyes closed, when I smell Birch it reminds me of the old fashioned “root beer” candies my grandfather always had in the candy dish next to his lounge chair.
Name: Birch oil, Adirondack [BetLen6]
Species: Betula lenta L., fam. Betulaceae
Part: Bark
Method: Steam Distillation
Class: Salicylate ester
Country: Canada
Birch essential oil blends well with Peppermint, Lavender, and Rosemary.

Sore Muscle Essential Oil Blend:

Add essential oils to roller bottle – fill the rest of the bottle with carrier oil of your choice.  Roll on sore muscles 2-3 times per day.


  • Avoid during pregnancy
  • Dilute more than 50% for children
  • Avoid if you have a history of seizures
  • Avoid if you are allergic to methyl salicylate.
  • Always test for skin sensitivity prior to widespread use
  • Excessive use of any oil can lead to skin sensitization
  • Keep out of eyes, ears, or nose