Gingergrass Oil

Gingergrass-bannerEnsconced with enormously sensual, spicy, warming, lemony and peppery aroma, Gingergrass essential oil is extracted from the aromatic and herbaceous grasses of Cymbopogon martini var. sofia, the most loved sibling of Palmarosa known as Cymbopogon martini var. motia.

It is also beckoned as the most popular botanical cousin of Lemongrass. Gingergrass oil has excellent properties for nurturing healthy skin and it is for this reason, it has been used for centuries together in making Indian soaps for treating acne, wrinkles, scars and marks.

Indigenous to India, Gingergrass and its extracts, including its essential oil is a time-honored ingredient of numerous Ayurvedic formulations prescribed for the treatment of inflammation, sinusitis, allergies, joint pain, muscular aches, sore throat, depression, loss of libido, dermatitis, acne, cough, common cold and certain other health disorders. Gingergrass is called as Sofiya in Sanskrit.

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Historical uses and importance of Gingergrass:

Gingergrass (Cymbopogon martini var. sofia) is a thickly growing perennial grass variety that reaches up to a height of 2m and is found growing in the wild, especially in lower altitudes. Gingergrass essential oil is steam distilled from its aromatic grass in India since the 18th century. The herbaceous, sharp and woody aroma have paved ways for its use in making perfumes, colognes, soaps, herbal medicines, ointments, toiletries and skin care ranges.

A multilingual multi-script plant name database sorting Cymbopogon names quotes, “Two kinds of oil can be obtained from Cymbopogon martinii; Palmarosa oil from the variety known as “Motia” and Ginger-grass oil from “Sofia.”  It has also been mentioned that these two types are differentiable both aromatically and morphologically, where Motia variety is diploid and Sofia is tetraploid.

Therapeutic properties and chemical constituents of Gingergrass essential oil:

The major therapeutic properties of Gingergrass essential oil are analgesic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, uplifting, bactericidal, anti-depressant, revitalizing, decongestant, anthelmintic and insect repellant.

The chemical constituents contributing to its healing powers are geraniol, trans-p-menthene-8-diol-1,2, cis- and trans-dihydrocarvone, cis- and trans-carveol, menthadienols limonene oxide and piperitenone. The grassy notes of this oil are due to the presence of Perilla alcohol, meaning dihydro cuminyl alcohol.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Gingergrass Essential Oil:

Ayurveda is a holistic healing methodology that considers and treats an individual as a whole person instead of treating any specific diseases or parts of the body. Legendary Ayurvedic Physician Mr. Vasant Lad rightly quotes in the Textbook of Ayurveda as, “Ayurveda treats the whole person, not just the organ or system involved.

This ancient healing system means ‘knowledge of life’ and aims at treating an illness after analyzing the root cause lying behind so as to help humanity to prevent such illnesses in the future. Health in Ayurveda means the wellness of the mind, body and spirit as it trusts that a healthy mind can survive only in a healthy body supported by a hale and hearty spirit.

The aim of Ayurvedic treatment according to National Institutes of Health is, “The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness.

The modesty of Ayurveda vests in its way of treating every individual in a unique manner even if it is for the same illness. According to Ayurvedic texts, every human on earth is unique with a distinct individual constitution and similarly the way of treating human beings should also be unique according to his constitution, which is made up of three biological energies known as doshas. Everything on earth (including human beings) is made up of five vital elements namely air, water, fire, earth and space. Doshas are nothing but a combination of these vital elements.

Vata is a combination of space and air and governs the functions of the respiratory system and nervous system; Pitta represents fire and water and takes care of digestion, absorption and cognitive functions; Kapha stands for water and earth and is responsible for structure, movement of fluids in the body and sustenance.

Every individual has a predominance of any one of these doshas that determine their personality and traits. Balance between these doshas denotes health and imbalance due to change in lifestyle and food habits cause sickness.

Ayurvedic remedies like essential oils, herbs, yoga, physical exercises, prayers, meditation and Ayurvedic routine are prescribed according to the individual constitution in such a way to treat doshic imbalances. Gingergrass essential oil is said to lessen vata, pitta and kapha energy.

Let’s have a look at the Ayurvedic health benefits of Gingergrass essential oil:

Ginger-grass-boucher1. Pacifies the hassled mind:

Gingergrass essential oil has a sensual and warming aroma that calms the stressed, tensed and confused mind. Most often used for alleviating anxiety and depression, the citrusy, peppery and spicy fragrance of this oil assists in revitalizing your nerves and uplifting your senses. Massaging your body with 5 drops of Gingergrass oil mixed with 2.5 ml of almond oil can be of great assistance in lessening fatigue, anxiety, stress and depression.

The greatest news is that Gingergrass oil can implant complete freshness, happiness and a clean feeling even on a damp and drenched rainy day. All you need to do is to add 2 drops of Gingergrass essential oil to your room freshener and spray it to recharge your mood with absolute newness on a dull soggy day.

2. Relieves nasal and chest congestion:

Cold, cough, allergies and sinus congestion can rule your routine tasks, as you might find it difficult to concentrate on your work with such respiratory problems. The best thing that you need to do is to use a safe decongestant and expectorant that assists in discharging the mucous and phlegm deposits that lead to cough, cold, congestion and breathing difficulties. Increased kapha dosha is responsible for respiratory problems, stagnation of water, phlegm and mucous deposits.

Gingergrass essential oil is said to lessen kapha dosha and is a good expectorant, decongestant, bactericidal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Adding 2 drops of this oil in steam inhalation can help you in relieving from blocked nasal passages, sinus congestion, headache and congestion.

You can also add 1 drop of Gingergrass oil to your vapor rub and gently massage your chest, throat and back to get rid of throat allergies, dry cough, stuffy nose and watery eyes. With its antiseptic and bactericidal properties, Gingergrass essential oil aids in arresting the growth of microbes causing respiratory infections.

3. Alleviates muscular and joint pain:

Most of us complain about back pain, headache, muscular pain or joint pain at the end of the day, after struggling for a full day with our official and household chores. Human body is the most delicate and sensitive set up. Often, we forget to give the priority that our body requires and our mind looks up to.

Mix 5 drops of Gingergrass essential oil with 2.5 ml of olive oil and gently massage your body and leave it for 15 minutes, followed by a warm bath (add 2 drops of Gingergrass oil in bathing water as well) before going to bed. Trust me; this will create a great difference in the quality of your sleep and the kind of relaxation your body can get after a tiring day. This massage and warming bath helps in promoting blood circulation, eliminating toxic substances in the body causing pain and inflammation and supporting muscular relaxation.

4. Repels mosquitoes and other insects:

Gingergrass and its extracts have been used as a powerful insect repellent and as the most effective natural aid against mosquitoes since the ancient times. A 1994 study was conducted on the ‘Repellent action of Cymbopogon martinii martinii Stapf var. sofia oil against mosquitoes’ by the Malaria Research Center, India to assess the repellent action of Gingergrass essential oil against mosquitoes under field conditions.

The results of this study depicted that Gingergrass oil has strong repellent power and it granted complete protection for 12 hours, against Anopheles culicifacies mosquitoes, which is the primary vector of malaria in India. It also said that this oil showed about 96.3% protection for 12 hours against a pest mosquito type. The best way to keep away from mosquitoes and other insects like bugs is to add 2 drops of Gingergrass oil to your diffuser or burner.

Another study on ‘Evaluation of repellent action of Cymbopogan martinii martinii Stapf var sofia oil against Anopheles sundaicus in tribal villages of Car Nicobar Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India.’ Concluded that “Cymbopogan martinii martinii Stapf var sofia oil is an indigenous product, its application is safe and can be widely used for protection from malaria.”

5. Nurtures skin health:

How can something with the touch citrus be less benefiting to the skin? Absolutely not, Gingergrass essential oil has a lemony aroma and the citrusy touch in its therapeutic properties has excellent benefits for the skin. With its antiseptic, anti-fungal and bactericidal properties, Gingergrass oil is effective in treating pimples, black heads, boils, cuts, dermatitis, burns, ringworm, athlete’s foot, wounds and other skin infections.

Just like Palmarosa essential oil, Gingergrass oil is also said to be effective in treating marks, scars and wrinkles. Mix 2 drops of Gingergrass oil in your skin care cream or lotion and apply it the affected parts for effective results.

You can also add 2 drops of Gingergrass oil with 1 ml of olive oil and massage it gently on your skin and leave it over for 30 minutes, followed by a refreshing bath can help in improving your skin tone, reducing marks and scars, augmenting the circulation and regenerating the formation of new skin cells.

Other health benefits:

Gingergrass essential oil also has aphrodisiac properties that assist in treating loss of libido, impotence and loss of sexual interest along with clearing cluttered thoughts in the mind that weaken the intimacy with your partner. This oil is also used in making perfumes, soaps, colognes and other skin care products.

Disclaimer:

This article is only for the purpose of education and is not meant to diagnose or substitute any prescribed medication or professional medical advice. Always use essential oils in a diluted manner and never use it internally as organic and pure essential oils are highly concentrated solutions and can cause harm if not used properly.

Gingergrass essential oil has slight phototoxic effect like the citrus oils, so do not go out in sun immediately after using it topically, to avoid the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. Consult your Ayurvedic expert before choosing the appropriate essential oils for your unique health condition and individual constitution.

Thought for the day:

To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.   -Wendell Berry

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing by Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
  2. Traditional Systems of Medicine by M. Z. Abdin
  3. Get Healthy for Good: 52 Brilliant Ideas for Mind and Body Well-being (52 Brilliant Ideas): 52 Brilliant Ideas for Mind and Body Well-being (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Kate Cook
  4. The Aromatherapy Encyclopedia (Volume 2 of 2): A Concise Guide to Over 385 Plant Oils by Carol Schiller

Reference Links:

  1. Sorting Cymbopogon names by University of Melbourne
  2. Essential Oils and Their Constituents: XXVII. Composition of Oil of Gingergrass by M. C. Nigam, Ishwar C. Nigam, Leo Levi published by NRC Research Press in The Canadian Journal of Chemistry
  3. Repellent action of Cymbopogon martinii martinii Stapf var. Sofia oil against mosquitoes’ by Ansari MA, Razdan RK, the Malaria Research Center, India published in PubMed
  4. Cymbopogon martinii by Wikipedia

Ginger Oil

Ginger-oil-bannerGinger oil is known as the “Oil of Empowerment” and is called in Ayurveda as Mahaushadha, meaning “universal medicine”, predominantly for its ability to heal the mind, body and soul, which are the three vital pillars of perfect health in Ayurveda.

Along with turmeric, galangal and cardamom, Ginger is yet another potent limb of the Zingiberaceae plant family. As a common culinary spice, Ginger is found in countless kitchens across the world and takes the pride of being used as a natural home remedy for addressing digestive and respiratory disorders.

Botanically named as Zingiber officinale, this powerful herb is called as Singara, Katubhadra and Srngaveram in Sanskrit. Ginger in any form, say fresh ginger, dried ginger or ginger extracts like juice, essential oil or powder has a bunch of absolute healing wisdom.

Ayurveda, the oldest healing system on earth prescribes Ginger as a remedy for indigestion, flatulence, nausea, loss of appetite, morning sickness, bronchitis, menstrual cramps, respiratory infections, arthritis, cancer and for enhancing the immune power. It is also recommended for treating fear, hopelessness, instability and for rekindling the inner fire for ultimatum.

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Historical importance of Ginger:

Ginger is one among the oldest of spices used for more than 4400 years across different cultures universally. With more than 1,200 species, Ginger has been proved scientifically for treating numerous health disorders. Its name is extracted from a Sanskrit word ‘srngaveram’, which means ‘horn root’.

According to the report by the University of Maryland Medical Center, “It has a long history of being used as medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions.” It has also been said that Ginger has been used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating toothache, nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea and certain other digestive disorders.

Ginger and its other extracts have been a vital part of the ancient Ayurvedic remedies for obesity, poor metabolism, abdominal pain, motion sickness, impotence, weak memory, arthritis, flu, menstrual pain and as a heart tonic. It has its name etched in the most respected epic of India, Mahabharata.

This aromatic spice was recommended by King Henry VIII of England in the 16th century for fighting against the great plague. Greeks used Ginger as to combat the harmful effects of poison.

It is said that the West African women in Senegal knit belts of Ginger to restore their partner’s reproductive potency. Even today, Ginger is used in various dishes across the world for granting the finesse flavor and taste of this miraculous spice with mammoth health benefits.

Chemical constituents and therapeutic properties of Ginger essential oil:

The major chemical components of Ginger essential oil are camphene, a-pinene, b-pinene, zingiberene, geraniol, borneol, neral, geranyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, citral, b-bisabolene, linalool, nerol, geranial and y-terpineol.

These components contribute to its healing properties like carminative, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, analgesic, aphrodisiac, antioxidant, stimulant, antiseptic and emmenagogue.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Ginger essential oil:

Nothing is as astonishing as Mother Nature and the best wonder in the world is the human body that works like a magic to keep one going on and on. Ayurveda states that human beings are a part of nature and their illness and health depends upon their harmony with nature.

It further lights up this thought by stating that nature is made up of five vital elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and space and to our wonder, it’s also been said that a human being also has all these five elements.

Where earth is the muscles and bones, water is the blood, fire is the energy for various vital functions, air is our breath and space is the soul that co-ordinates all other functions and keeps us living.

The concept of healing in Ayurveda solely depends upon nature as it says that all the other things on earth are made for making mankind happy and healthy. For example, earth has 92 elements like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron etc, and the human body also has all these 92 elements.

When a person lacks magnesium or calcium energy, he/she can take Ginger, which is rich in magnesium and calcium, whereas Ginger grows by absorbing the magnesium and calcium element from earth. How interesting it is, right?

Ayurveda regards every individual as a unique part of nature and suggests that the treatment should also be unique depending upon their individual constitution that is made up of three doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha.

Vata is a representation of air and ether, pitta stands for fire and water and kapha symbolizes earth and water. Vata controls respiratory and nervous functions, pitta takes care of metabolism and body temperature and kapha governs the structure, sustenance and movement of fluids in the body.

Balance between these three doshas indicates health, and imbalance due to unhealthy food habits and change in lifestyle symbolizes illness. Ayurvedic remedies aim at correcting these dosha imbalances with the help of herbs, essential oils, yoga, meditation, physical exercises, Ayurvedic routine, balanced diet and prayer.

Ginger essential oil is said to pacify kapha and vata dosha and aggravate pitta dosha with its warming, spicy, rich, woody and drying energy and aroma.

The Ayurvedic health benefits of Ginger essential oil are:

Ginger-oil-broucher1. Benefits to the digestive system:

Ginger is popularly known as Adrak in India and is a quick natural remedy for relieving indigestion, bloating, flatulence, dyspepsia, vomiting, spasms, nausea, loss of appetite, piles and colic.

Dr. Jaishree Bhattacharjee, a renowned Ayurvedic Consultant says, “Ginger has many useful minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc and few others. It is a wonderful carminative, anti-flatulent and stimulant.”

Ginger essential oil has the potential to increase pitta energy that is responsible for the digestive fire. Add 2 drops of Ginger essential oil to your diffuser or air freshener before meals and let it stay there till you complete your food.

Inhaling the warming aroma of this oil enhances the appetite and improves the process of digestion, supports absorption of essential nutrients by the body and aids in alleviating the toxic substances with its hot potency, but for which the toxins or ama may otherwise cause serious illnesses.

You can also add 2 drops of Ginger oil to warm bathing water before going to bed or before starting a hectic day. This refreshing bath aids in promoting peaceful sleep, free from bloating, indigestion, gastric pain and other digestive disorders. If it is for the morning, Ginger has a handful of bright benefits like stimulating your nerves, rejuvenating your cells, improving your appetite and augmenting your mental power for facing your day to day challenges.

Ginger and its essential oil have been proven best for treating motion sickness even in children. Numerous studies have witnessed the effectiveness of Ginger is better than the effects of dimenhydrate, which is the most important ingredient in over-the-counter motion sickness and seasickness remedies like Dramamine.

It works by stimulating the flow of saliva and other digestive juices, pacifies the stomach, relieves pain due to gas and diarrhea, controls vomiting and supports easy discharge of stools. Mix 1 drop of Ginger essential oil with 10 drops of sesame oil and massage it gently on your stomach and abdomen for treating constipation and motion sickness.

2. Benefits to the mind:

Ginger essential oil is an effective natural remedy for treating emotional problems like fear, abandonment, and lack of self-confidence and of motivation. Using 2 drops of Ginger essential oil in diffuser, aromatic candles or in bath can help in improving memory power, treat mood swings, tendency to procrastinate, disconnectiveness, hopelessness, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, restlessness and depression.

Ginger oil is an excellent stimulant to the mind, body and soul. The encouraging aroma of this oil rekindles the inner fire and grants the power and confidence to step ahead and lead with courage and confidence.

Massaging your upper and lower abdomen (the root, sacral and solar plexus chakra) with 2 drops of Ginger oil with 1 ml of coconut oil aids in eliminating fear and mental blocks, enhancing the sense of trust, mental strength and enlightening the divine power rested within.

3. Benefits to the reproductive system:

Ginger is simply hot to support your intimacy with your partner as it has enormous aphrodisiac properties that have been assisting in the treatment of impotency, loss of libido, loss of sexual interest and premature ejaculation.

Gill Farrer-Halls in his book ‘The Aromatherapy Bible’ states that Ginger oil is an effective aphrodisiac and acts as a mild stimulant also. 2 drops of Ginger oil blended with 1 drop of Sandalwood oil and 1 drop of Rose oil added to your diffuser can drive in the positive energy required both physically and mentally for a complete “we time” together, by toning up the sexual organs and pacifying your mood.

Massaging your lower abdomen with 2 drops of Ginger oil blended with 1 ml of olive oil can be of great help in treating the problems of the female reproductive system by regularizing blocked or irregular menstruation, relieving menstrual pain and treating other problems associated with menstruation like nausea, dizziness, fatigue and mood fluctuations. Inhaling the reviving aroma of Ginger oil can aid in treating nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy.

4. Benefits to the respiratory system:

Ginger essential oil has the power to reduce kapha dosha. According to Ayurveda, excess of kapha energy is the main reason for respiratory problems like bronchitis, cold, sinusitis, asthma and congestion.

Ginger oil also has expectorant properties that aids in loosening the mucous and phlegm deposits and with its antiseptic properties, it assists in curbing the growth of microbes that spread respiratory infections.

Researchers of the Columbia University have proved that the components in Ginger root have properties that help asthma patients to breathe easily. The post-doctoral research fellow in the Columbia University Department of Anesthesiology, Elizabeth Townsend says, “In our study, we demonstrated that purified components of ginger can work synergistically with β-agonists to relax ASM.”

Adding 2 drops of Ginger essential oil in steam inhalation can assist in reducing cough, clear chest and nasal congestion, relieving sinusitis and helping in treating cold and flu symptoms. You can also rub your chest, back and throat with your regular Vapor rub mixed with 1 drop of Ginger oil for quick relief. Even today Ginger tea is a delicious and healthy way to keep away from cold, cough and flu in the Indian kitchens.

5. Benefits to the muscular system:

Muscular pain is a common illness that most of us experience in our day to day lives. Headache, back pain, knee pain and pain all over the body after a strenuous work are not a surprise to many of us.

What we all do is, rush to the pharmacy and grab pain relieving creams and sprays that grant relief. Most of us fail to realize that these over-the-counter remedies give temporary relief only and force us to use them again when the pain peeps out even worse the next time.

Ginger essential oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and analgesic properties that make it an exuberant natural aid for treating muscular pain, migraine pain, rheumatic pain, back pain, headache, joint pain, arthritis and weakness.

Excess of vata and kapha energy in the body lead to swelling, water stagnation, accumulation of toxic substances, inflammation, sore muscles, weakened nerves and muscular tension.

With its potent to reduce vata and kapha dosha and increase pitta or the fire energy, 3 drops of Ginger essential oil blended with 1 teaspoon of almond oil massaged gently on the painful area, spreads warmth in the body, reduces swelling and inflammation by eliminating toxic substances and water deposits from the body through urine and sweat and relieves pain by causing numbness in the painful parts.

6. Benefits to the entire system:

Ginger and its essential oil also act as a heart tonic and helps in improved circulation. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, few studies have proved that ginger has the potential to prevent blood clotting, lower cholesterol, prevent blood vessels from getting blocked, which may otherwise lead to stroke or heart attack.

Ginger essential oil has antioxidant properties that have been proved efficacious in the prevention and treatment of cancerous cells.  A 2011 study on ‘Antioxidant activity of the volatile oils of Zingiber officinale (ginger)’ published in Spatula-DD, A peer reviewed journal on complementary medicine and drug discovery says “Ginger extracts have reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids levels, as well as cellular cholesterol accumulation, reduce DPPH absorption, scavenge free radicals and it has potential to improve the histopathological lesion occurring in different layers of the arterial tissue. In other word it is effective in attenuating of atherosclerosis development.”

This dominant herb has also been witnessed effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer. A 2006 study by the University Of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center presented in the annual meeting of the American association for Cancer Research stated that using Ginger solution (made with Ginger powder and water) on ovarian cancer cells ended up in their death. These cancerous cells died either due to autophagy (attacked/digested themselves) or due to apoptosis (committed suicide).

The book “A Complete Guide To Understanding and Using Aromatherapy For Vibrant Health and Beauty,” says that Ginger essential oil is effective in treating varicose veins and cellulites.

With rich vitamin C, Ginger oil can also help in treating scurvy. Mix 1 drop of Ginger oil with 10 drops of jojoba oil and apply it on the affected area for enhancing the skin health and reducing the symptoms of aging with its antioxidant properties.

Other health benefits:

Ginger essential oil can also assist in treating rheumatism, arthritis, muscular pain, loss of libido, problems of the lymphatic system, sore throat, chills, disconnectiveness, improper blood circulation, increased blood sugar levels, back pain and mood swings.

Disclaimer:

This article is only for the purpose of information and is not meant for treating or replacing any prescription drugs or professional medical advice. Always consult your Ayurvedic practitioner before choosing the right essential oil for your unique health condition and individual constitution.

Never use essential oils internally and always use essential oils in a diluted manner as pure and organic essential oils are highly concentrated liquids and may cause allergic reactions if used directly on the skin. Care should be taken, if you are a pregnant or nursing woman.

Thought for the day:

Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
-Theodore Roethke

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ginger: Common Spice and Wonder Drug by Paul Schulick
  2. A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens by Nina Simonds
  3. The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook: Forty Natural Prescriptions for Perfect Health by David Simon M.D., Deepak Chopra M.D.
  4. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing by Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
  5. Ginger Recipes: 33 Mouth-Watering Recipes Using Natures Super Spice for Weight Loss, Health, and Beauty. (The Simple Recipe Series) by Ready Recipe Books

Reference Links:

  1. Ginger by The University of Maryland Medical Center
  2. Ginger Beats Drugs in Defeating Cancer, Motion Sickness and Inflammation by Health Impact News Daily
  3. Ginger is a powerful aphrodisiac and increases sexual prowess by Namini Wijedasa published in infolanka.com
  4. What are the benefits of Ginger? By Medical News Today
  5. Ginger – Ayurveda’s Root To Good Health by Ayurveda Acharya

Birch Oil

Well identified as the ‘Shining Tree’, Birch tree sets a remarkable note in the field of ancient and modern medicine for its preventive and defensive actions against rheumatism, skin disorders, circulatory problems and dental mayhems.

Birch-new-2

Scientifically called as Betula Alba, Birch tree bears its origin to the Indian subcontinent, especially in the cold and temperate climates, in particular the northern part of India, which has been the safe haven for numerous saints, sages and Rishis since the pre-historic period for attaining divinity through meditation.

Birch tree is well known for its silvery white bark, from which the Birch essential oil is extracted by dry distillation method. It is called as ‘bhurja’ in Sanskrit, which means ‘a tree whose bark is used for writing upon’, and few sources also state that this name is extracted from the Sanskrit word ‘bhura’, which means ‘shining tree’.

Birch tree is highly rich in flavonoids and saponins. For its enormous medicinal and curative attributes, this tree and its essential oil are being used in Ayurveda for treating obesity, fluid retention, kidney stones, arthritis, colitis, indigestion, cholesterol and respiratory disorders.

Historical uses and importance of Birch and its essential oil:

Being a priceless tree of the ancestral origin, Birch and its essential oil were widely utilized since the primitive times, dating back to the Paleolithic and the Mesolithic era as an adhesive and for various other uses. Adhering to the meaning of its name (tree which is used for writing purposes), Birch has been extensively used for preparing manifold documents in olden days, which are now termed as Birch Bark Manuscripts.

Fulsome with spiritual and cultural importance, Birch tree is crowned as the National tree of Russia and Finland. The most special fact about Birch tree is that it resists all kinds of adverse soil and climatic conditions. The bark of this tree has been used for numerous purposes such as construction, writing and medicinal applications. This tree was also called as ‘Lady of the Woods’, for its elegance, charm, lightness and the mesmerizing aroma after rain.

The Native Americans used Birch in their folklore remedies, where it was taken along with beverages to deal with various health conditions associated with the stomach including dysentery, diarrhea and indigestion.

The essential oil obtained from the bark of this tree has been used in hair care and skin care products to drive away dandruff, hair fall, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. The sap of the inner bark is a rich source of nutrients and was used in making cakes and is predominantly known to the world as a famine food for its ability to satiate hunger as a last choice if not anything is accessible.

Birch essential oil has been used as a disinfectant, powerful insect repellent, and also in the treatment of skin infections, fever, kidney stones, eczema and rheumatism. It is also a key ingredient in various perfumes including the most popular Russian Leather fragrance and Iceland Wintergreen.

In various folk medicines, Birch was used in transfer magic remedies for alleviating rheumatic pain and other associated symptoms. The aromatic leaves of this tree were also used in making Birch tea, which was used as an effective remedy for dissolving kidney stones, alleviating pain, gout, dropsy and rheumatism.

Chemical constituents and therapeutic properties of Birch Oil:

The remedial properties of Birch essential oil are anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritic, febrifuge, diuretic, astringent, detoxifying, analgesic, depurative, antiseptic, stimulant, germicide, tonic, insecticide, and anti-depressant. The major chemical constituents contributing to its therapeutic properties are betulene, methyl salicylate, betulenol, creosol, salicylic acid, and guaiacol.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Birch essential oil:

The word ‘Ayurveda’ has become the most common terminology in this contemporary living as many are becoming conscious about their health. When absolute health is the need of the hour, then natural remedies and chemical-free medications come along without any say and this where Ayurveda comes into picture.

Besides being a natural healing methodology, Ayurveda is a holistic system that helps in leading a disciplined life, including guidelines for a balanced diet to a modest lifestyle.

Ayurveda is the oldest of all medicinal systems on earth and it completely trusts that Mother Nature has the cure for all ailments including physical disorders and mental mayhems.

It is also said that living in harmony with Nature gifts a disease-free, harmonious and healthy life. According to this philosophy everything on earth is a combination of the 5 fundamental elements of nature. They are fire, earth, water, space and air.

For a better understanding, it is clearly depicted that earth is the representation of the bones and muscles, fire is the heat energy generated in the body for many vital functions of the system like metabolism, water stands for blood and other fluids, we breathe air and space is the representation of our soul that harmonizes all the other functions of the human body and keeps us alive.

Ayurvedic healing relies upon nature and it strongly states that all the other things on this planet are being created just for the happiness of mankind. You can identify this with the following example; Mother earth has 92 elements, including magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium etc, and the human system also has all these 92 constituents.

When a person is ill due to the deficiency of any of these elements, say iron, he/she is advised to take dates, which is rich in iron and to our astonishment dates grow by engrossing iron content from the earth. Simply brilliant, isn’t it?

Every human being is regarded as a unique part of nature in Ayurveda and it is also recommended that the remedial measures should also be unique based upon their unique individual constitution, which comprises of three biological energies called as doshas (also known as Tridosha) namely vata, pitta and kapha.

Pitta represents fire and water, vata is a combination of air and ether, and kapha signifies earth and water. Pitta energy is responsible for body temperature and metabolism, kapha controls the physical appearance, movement of fluids in the system and sustenance and vata dosha regulates the functions of the nervous, circulatory and respiratory systems.

Your first Ayurvedic consultation will help you in identifying your unique individual constitution and your predominant dosha type, which has an upper hand in determining your physical and mental makeup. Perfect balance between these doshas signifies well-being and disparities due to unwholesome food habits, change in climatic conditions, lifestyle and immoral behaviors leads to sickness.

The most significant Ayurvedic remedies that focus on treating doshic imbalances are herbs, plant essential oils, meditation, simple physical exercises, yoga, Pranayama or balanced breathing practices, Ayurvedic routine, prayers and a balanced diet.

Birch essential oil is known to pacify vata and kapha dosha and intensifies pitta dosha. The Ayurvedic health benefits of Birch essential oil are:

Birch-broucher1. Nature’s gift for treating rheumatic conditions:

Rheumatism is generally regarded as a medical condition caused due to excess deposits of fluids in the system along with the built up of toxic substances and improper blood circulation that lead to inflammation, pain, redness, stiffness and irritation.

According to Ayurveda, rheumatism is majorly a kapha imbalance disorder and can be treated with Ayurvedic remedies that reduce kapha vitiation. Birch oil has anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties that aids in alleviating these agonizing conditions and reduces excess kapha dosha.

Birch essential oil is known as an effective pain reliever with the presence of the salicylate component that is present in aspirin based medications. This compound helps in lessening pain, swelling and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other pain in the joints and muscles. It works by arresting the body’s production of prostaglandins hormones, which are responsible for pain, inflammation and other similar conditions.

Along with these attributes, the essential oil of Birch also has detoxifying, diuretic and depurative properties that assist in eliminating toxins from the body, discarding salt, uric acid and excess fluid deposits in the body by promoting sweat and frequent urination and by purifying the entire system. Being a circulatory agent, this oil also helps in promoting proper circulation of blood and lessens the severity of circulatory disorders like rheumatism and edema.

Massaging the affected parts with 2 drops of Birch oil, 2 drops of Ginger oil and 2 drops of Tea tree oil along with 3 ml of coconut oil can help in reducing pain, inflammation, redness and promote proper blood circulation that helps in treating rheumatic and arthritic conditions. You can also add 2 to 3 drops of Birch oil in warm compress and in warm bathing water that can help in improving your medical conditions related to rheumatism and other muscular and circulatory problems.

2. Alleviates congestion and other respiratory infections:

Birch essential oil is always one among those best natural remedies that assist in relieving severe congestion, long-term allergies and other respiratory infections. With its expectorant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, Birch essential oil supports the system in fighting against chest congestion, bronchitis, nasal congestion, pneumonia and bronchial congestion.

Kapha dosha is a combination of water and earth elements and imbalance of kapha dosha leads to excess level of water deposits, amassing of mucus and phlegm deposits and building up of toxic substances worsening respiratory problems.

Birch essential oil is used in Ayurvedic healing for correcting kapha imbalance by generating heat in system and discarding mucus and phlegm deposits in the lungs and the respiratory passages.

Adding 2 to 3 drops of Birch oil in steam inhalation can aid in loosening mucus accumulation, treating stuffed nose, nasal, chest and bronchial congestion and combats the effects of toxins and microbes in the body.

You can mix 2 drops of Birch oil, 2 drops of Peppermint oil and 2 drops of Lavender oil along with your regular vaporizing ointment and massage in gentle movements on throat, chest and back for quick relief. A hot compress with 2 drops of Birch oil, following this massage on the back and chest can help improve respiratory conditions at ease.

3. Lessens pain and heal wounds rapidly:

Birch is such a magical oil that can relieve severe pain in a matter of minutes. With the presence of the salicylate component in aspirin and other pain-relieving pills, Birch oil aids in lessening pain by causing numbness on the painful area and uplifts the nerves and muscles.

Along with the Alternative and Complementary medicinal practices, the Allopathic doctors also recommend Birch oil for relieving severe pain, preventing the joints from swelling in cases of dislocation of joints or fractures.

Gently massaging the painful parts with 2 drops of Birch oil and 2 drops of Lemongrass oil along with 2 ml of olive oil can aid in easing muscular pain and stiffness. It also helps in alleviating muscular spasms and bout. 3 to 4 drops of Birch oil combined with 4 drops of Helichrysum oil and 4 ml of coconut oil massaged on the affected parts will work like a fascination especially on carpal tunnel syndrome.

Mix 2 drops of Birch oil with 2 drops of Lavender oil and 2 drops of Frankincense oil along with 3 ml of Sweet almond oil and apply it on wounds, cuts, skin rashes, cellulites, ringworm, eczema, itches and insect bites for quick relief. This formula works with the disinfectant, antiseptic, anti-bacterial and germicide properties of Birch oil that kills infectious micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi in skin infections and wounds and promotes quicker healing.

4. Cures oral problems:

There’s no wonder that an admirable essential oil like Birch has the therapeutic effects for treating oral problems with its anti-bacterial, antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent and germicide properties. These remedial values help in treating oral problems like weak gums, cavities, bacteria, painful gums, plaque and halitosis or bad breath.

1 drop of Birch oil along with 1 drop of Spearmint oil added to a cup of warm water can be used as a natural gargle formula for combating germs and bacterial growths in the mouth, strengthening the gums as an astringent, protecting the teeth and gums from infections as an antiseptic and also for keeping away from bad breath by refreshing the mouth throughout the day. This therapy can be followed twice a day in the morning and night.

5. Promotes hair growth and treats hair problems:

Birch is yet another nourishing oil for controlling loss of hair, maintaining those beautiful locks, preventing dandruff, enriching the scalp and promoting growth of hair naturally.  Just 1 drop of Birch oil in your regular shampooing can aid in healing your hair problems and deliver quick results in re-establishing your hair growth.

Massaging your scalp with 3 drops of Birch oil mixed with 3 drops of Ylang Ylang oil, 3 drops of Rosemary oil, 2 drops of Lemon oil and 2 drops of Lavender oil along with 7 ml of Virgin olive oil can help in moisturizing the scalp, controlling dandruff with its anti-fungal properties, strengthening the hair follicles with its astringent properties, promotes hair growth and grants the natural lustrous, shiny and glossy look of your hair. Follow this massage with 2 drops of Birch oil added to your mild shampoo for promising results.

Other health benefits:

A 1994 study at the University of North Carolina concluded that “the chemicals found in white birch bark slowed the growth of HIV”. Various other studies conducted on the betulinic acid present in Birch essential oil have been proved to possess anti-tumor properties and kill cancerous cells. Birch essential oil is also used in the treatment of colitis, bladder stone, gout, headache, candida, multiple sclerosis, depression and urinary disorders.

Disclaimer:

This editorial is meant only for the use of education and information. It is not in anyways intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any medical condition or replace any prescribed medication or medical advice of a healthcare expert. We are medical professionals and this information is shared only with the concern of bringing out the importance of Ayurveda, the mother of all healing systems on earth.

Make sure that you speak with an Ayurvedic expert before using the perfect essential oil for your prakriti or individual constitution and state of health. Do not ingest essential oils or use it for internal purposes and ensure that you always employ essential oils in a diluted form, as 100% pure and organic essential oils are extremely concentrated substances and may cause allergic or hazardous reactions, if used directly for topical application. Keep essential oils out of reach of children.

Thought for the day:

All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God. -Thomas Browne

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy & Herbalism by Julia Lawless
  2. Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffmann
  3. Medicinal Plants of the World by Ben-Erik van Wyk, Michael Wink
  4. The Healing Power of Essential Oils: The Original Liquid Copals by Bevonne Birch Crookston
  5. American Indian Medicine (The Civilization of the American Indian Series) by Virgil J. Vogel

Reference Links:

  1. Birch Tar by Wikipedia
  2. Health benefits of Birch essential oil by Organic Facts
  3. White Birch by the American Cancer Society
  4. Birch Tree: Natural Medicine in your Backyard by Mother Earth News