Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

All authors of this article

Last updated on: 29.02.2024

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Birch Camphor

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Betulin, a pentycyclic triterpene alcohol (see terpenes below) with a lupane structure, is found in the white cork of birch bark(40 %). In 1788, the chemist Johann Tobias Lowitz was the first to describe betulin from birch wood; in 1995, the antitumor effect of C was proven. The effect is currently only documented preclinically: anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, differentiation-promoting, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumoral, antioxidant and antipruritic (Adepoju FO et al. 2023).

Spectrum of action
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Betulinic acid is produced by the oxidation of betulin. Betulinic acid has antitumor, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, differentiation-promoting, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and antipruritic mechanisms of action. A reduction in interleukin-17 production and an increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 levels in serum, a reduction in IL 17 A, IL 6 and TNF alpha in the skin have been proven. Furthermore, a statistically significant rehydration of the horny layer with improvement of the skin barrier and significant reduction of transepidermal water loss could be demonstrated (Laszczyk MN et al 2009).

Betulinic acid is found in many plant species, in particular the bark of trees from the birch family, but also from the plane and ebony family. In experiments, betulinic acid has an inhibitory effect on the growth of melanoma cells; it inhibits reverse transcriptase. Betulinic acid also has an antimycotic effect (dermatophytes) and against plasmodia.

Due to the intrinsic effect of birch bark, preservatives and emulsifiers in birch creams can be dispensed with, as can fragrances, colorants and lanolin.

Trade names
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Imlan® Creme (Birken GmbH), currently no longer available: Production has been discontinued since 01.09.2022, the company can no longer be reached despite several attempts.

Birch Cream St. Bernhard®

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  1. Adepoju FO et al. (2023) Pharmacological Potential of Betulin as a Multitarget Compound. Biomolecules 13:1105.

  2. Laszczyk MN et al. (2009) Regenerative and anti-inflammatory effects of betulin emulsions in impaired epidermal barrier function. Act. Dermatol 35: 1-5

  3. Scheffler A (2019) The Wound Healing Properties of Betulin from Birch Bark from Bench to Bedside. Planta Med 85:524-527.