Birch (generic name)

treats Actinic keratosis
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Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to birch (Betula spp.), its pollen, its constituents, or any related member of the Betulaceae family. Birch pollen is one of the most common allergens, usually in areas where exposure to high levels of birch pollen is common. The allergen may cause atopic dermatitis, contact urticaria (hives), atopic eczema, asthma, wheezing, allergic conjunctivitis (pinkeye), eye redness, oral-pharyngeal itching, or rhinoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose and the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the eyelids). Atopic dermatitis symptoms may include whealing and itching. Research also shows that children with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) are likely to develop asthma.

There has been documented cross sensitivity to other allergens, including apple, apple pollen, Himalayan tree pollen, peanut, soy and soybean, latex, avocado, kiwi, banana, hazelnuts, grass pollen, nuts, fruit, and mugwort.

Side Effects and Warnings

Birch is one of the most common allergens, and usually causes mild to severe symptoms ranging from contact urticaria (hives) to asthma. Birch-pollen immunotherapy may cause mild oral-pharyngeal itching.

There is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of birch for any indication. Although not well studied in humans, birch may have diuretic (increase urine production) effects, and caution is advised in patients taking other diuretics.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Birch is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of scientific evidence. Maternal pollen allergy seems to have a stronger influence on the development of rhinoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose and the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the eyelids) in children with a family history of atopy than the degree of allergen exposure during pregnancy.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

Birch may interact with blood thinning agents. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking agents that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Birch may have diuretic (increase urine production) effects. Caution is advised in patients taking agents that increase the flow of urine.

Birch may be hepatotoxic (liver damaging). Caution is advised in patients with liver disorders or taking drugs that may affect the liver.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Birch may interact with blood thinning herbs and supplements. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking herbs or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Birch may have diuretic (increase urine production) effects. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that increase the flow of urine.

Birch may be hepatotoxic (liver damaging); caution is advised in patients with liver disorders or taking herbs or supplements that may affect the liver.

Attribution

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Emily Kyomitmaitee, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).

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