There’s a life lesson we can learn from the wild cultivated birch forest in South Bohemia – that all good things should be left to grow wild and free.
I toured the natural Birch forests of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic with Leonard Taraba, the head of the family-run company that focuses on the wild collection of the young Birch leaves. These are used for the production of high quality extracts used worldwide in Weleda’s natural cosmetics and juices.
The reason why Leonard and his team are able to extract such high quality raw materials is by their ecologically- friendly processing methods, environmentally clean localities and to healthy respect for nature.
Their motto “in harmony with nature”.
Benefits of Birch
Birch is a silvery barked, leafy tree which is well-known for its restorative properties. Soviet countries have had a long appreciation for the medicinal power of this plant and folk healers used Birch for centuries for its diuretic effects, to assist the dissolving of kidney stones and also to treat gout and rheumatoid arthritis.
Birch leaves are bursting with rich ethereal oils and active substances that get the metabolism moving, purifying out bodies by removing harmful toxins from our system. The leaves flush out excess fluid from our body due to their high vitamin C content which also accelerates natural fat burning.
That’s the job of the flavonoids and antioxidant effects that combine to strengthen our blood vessels and support the immune system.
But there’s more! Birch leaves contain sapiens, cholesterol-reducing super heroes that work with tannins to lower our blood pressure, boost our immune system and create a natural antibacterial effect in our bodies.
Weleda and Birch
Birch extract is the essential substance for the preparation of products aimed at the reduction of cellulite and detoxification of our body.
Weleda uses 3 Birch products as a spring detox treatment to boost our bodies after a long winter.
- Weleda Cellulite Oil
Birch leaves combine with Butchers Broom roots to make the skin firmer and more resilient. Flavonoids boost and encourage the skin to rejuvenation when combined with circular massage movements from ankle to thigh that promotes blood circulation.
- Birch Body Scrub
The moisture rich scrub uses natural bees wax beads to gently exfoliate the dead skin cells on the outside whilst strengthening the elasticity of the skin.
- Organic Birch Juice
It’s refreshing taste supports the body from the inside. Its slightly bitter flavor is full of Vitamin C which also accelerates natural fat burning – this is my favourite of the Weleda Juices!
Taking a walk on the wild side with Leonard Taraba, Weleda Wild Birch Cultivator.
As we picked the leaves from these silver beauties I asked Leonard a few questions:
How is it for you to be a wild Birch cultivator?
It’s tradition in Slavic countries. Since the year 1920. I learnt it in primary school. We learnt about Birch trees and how to collect the leaves from them. Even still, I feel like a child when I am in nature. It’s a nice life.
Where does your connection with nature come from?
From my family. Our garden. We would go and collect from the wild since I was a small boy. It’s how it’s always been. For me, it’s natural to be in nature.
Why is Birch harvested with wild collection processes rather than traditional farming?
Birch leaves are wild harvested in natural and environmentally clean areas. We collect the leaves gently by hand, talking only 70% of leaves at most so that the young tree continues to grow on and not be damaged. When we harvest like this harvesting we don’t harm the tree and in a couple of weeks its branches are full of new leaves.
Birch is a very difficult plant to grow and it need lots of land – 30 tones dried leaves would need 100 hectares. It more ecologically friendly for us to cultivate this way. In the Czech Republic, it is legal to collect from nature, as long as you don’t remove the sap.
What makes Birch special for healing?
It encourages the function of your kidneys without being harsh on them. And it speeds up your metabolism. After three weeks, people will lose weight… approximately 2-5kgs. But this isn’t the main use, it is also helps treat autoimmune diseases and inflammation of the joints.
How do you wild harvest Birch?
Firstly, we find the good trees, not to small, not too tall. We need the young trees, under 10 years of age. We choose the trees by bending the tree down using both hands, if you can bend it and it comes back it’s a good tree, you can tell by its elasticity.
How do you ensure the quality of the Birch?
We need to collect and lock in the quality very quickly. In the leaves there is sugar which ferments if it’s left for too long. And if we leave them in the heat the leaves lose their colour. That’s why we only source trees within 20kms of our factory, to guarantee the quality.
How does your collaboration work with Weleda?
My mother was a doctor and she studied with Weleda in the year 1968. She introduced me to Weleda, anthroposophy and it’s a deep knowledge of the world. I then contacted Weleda and shared with them my herbs and in the year 2002 we started full production suppling them with the leaves for their Birch juices.
I love their approach to nature. And I appreciate many perfect raw-materials recipes which are based on synergies. Weleda knows how to train people, how to communicate openly, it all fair play. They always pay attention to traditional productions methods and I can always ask Weleda specialists at any step I am about to take.
How can we benefit from Birch?
Birch can be a holistic treatment for the body – from the outside and inside.
Inside – Birch juice mixed with water in the morning and drunk on an empty stomach can be used to stimulate the metabolism and a superfood to boost your immune system.
Outside – When using the body scrub and cellulite oil, the active substances can enter the body through our skin to help firm our skin and promote its elasticity.
How do you use Birch in your health and beauty routine?