Betulin occurs naturally in the white birch tree bark, from which it is extracted. A chemist of German-Russian origin, named Johann Tobias Lowitz, is credited with discovering betulin. In fact, Lowitz was the first scientist who studied as well as described this natural compound. During the period of his study, Lowitz was also successful isolating an active plant element for the first time.
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Betulin is obtained purely from plant sources and is responsible for the characteristic white color of the birch tree. Betulin is useful for us in several ways. This natural compound extracted from the birch tree bark helps to shield the birch trees from the negative impacts of environment like solar radiation, extreme temperatures as well as infestation by pests.
Found in great quantity in the bark of white birch tree, apparently betulin offers a variety of benefits for our metabolic system. Studies undertaken on mice showed that betulin helped to reduce the cholesterol level, put off obesity induced by diet and also improved sensitivity to insulin. Mice that were treated with betulin were also found to be additionally resistant towards the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries.
It has been found that betulin targets the supposed sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (also called SREBPs). It is known that these transcription factors are vital to activate the articulation of genes that are engaged in biosynthesizing fatty acids, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Further studies have revealed that betulin is also effective in lowering the levels of lipids in the blood, fat tissues and liver. In addition, animals treated with betulin showed more insulin sensitivity. At the same time, mice having a mutation, which makes them vulnerable to developing atherosclerosis, demonstrated lesser number of plaques when they were administered betulin or lovastatin.
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According to researchers, findings of their studies imply that the effects of betulin may be similar or much better compared to lovastatin, which belongs to the group of most extensively prescribed drug for curing elevated cholesterol levels. For example, during their studies, researchers found that compared to the drug lovastatin, betulin was more effective in reducing lipids in fat and liver. Even the extent of lipid decrease was greater. Moreover, betulin also helped to improve insulin resistance by effectively synthesizing fatty acids and triglycerides.
The natural active compound betulin is easily available and it has been in use in the form of a precursor in the manufacture of several other drugs. Many studies have found that betulin possesses anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and regenerating attributes. The effectiveness of betulin in skin care is attributed to these properties.
Betulin is distinguished by the wide range of health benefits offered by this natural compound obtained from the white birch bark. Aside from possessing anti-pruritic and anti-inflammatory properties, it is also useful in promoting healing of wounds, supporting skin cell differentiation (also known as keratinocytes) and helps in building the skin's firm defensive barrier. Briefly speaking, betulin works to harmonize as well normalize the various functions of the skin, including prevention of psoriasis, dermatitis, contact dermatitis or preventing the skin from becoming very dry or dehydrated.
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Aside from what has been discussed above, betulin is very compatible for our skin. As of now there is no report of allergic reactions following the use of this natural compound. Betulin also has antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-tumour effects. It protects the tissues and is valuable for the medical world. No doubt, several studies have been undertaken with betulin and still many are in progress.
Basically, betulin is a powder-like substance formed on the white birch tree's outer bark. It has been found that topical application of this compound speeds up wound healing and also alleviates inflammation caused by cuts. Several cosmetic manufacturers promote betulin in the form of a skin restorer and toner. Hence, they include the extract from the bark of birch tree to a variety of skin care products. In addition, another compound obtained from the birch bark - betulinic acid - is currently being examined for its effectiveness in treating melanoma as well as a number of other serious diseases.
Betulin encloses betulinic acid, which has a variety of biological as well as pharmacological activities. In fact, it has been found that betulinic acid possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-malarial properties. Similar to many drugs used clinically, this acid as well as the derivatives from it has particularly exhibited cytotoxicity against a wide spectrum of tumour cell lines and anti-HIV activities . Scientists have discovered a new mechanism of betulinic acid and this has corroborated that its derivatives have a great potential of having anti-HIV properties. As a result, they have the potential of being effective additives to the existing treatment of HIV. It has been found that betulinic acid is especially cytotoxic for many tumour cell lines, as it induces apoptosis in the affected cells.
When betulin is administered orally, it induces interferon synthesis. This natural compound is very effective in combating viral infections like influenza virus A, avian influenza, hepatitis C, herpes simplex and HIV - 1.
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Betulin is also a natural hepato-protector and very effective in treating severe and chronic liver injuries having diverse aetiology. In addition, this natural compound is also useful in curing liver injuries that have been worsened due to cholestasis.
Betulin is among the most effectual remedies for people with cerebral ischemia. In addition, this natural compound is also very useful in preventing development of severe as well as inconvertible injury of neurons in the brain.
While the bark of the white birch tree contains betulinic acid, the natural compound betulin can also be converted into betulinic acid. Currently, researchers are studying the potential of using betulin as well as betulinic acid for treating a wide range of serious diseases including AIDS, herpes viruses and skin cancer. These two compounds are also being studied for their potential use in brain tumour therapy, particularly among children. It is already well known that herpes viruses are responsible for cold sores, chicken pox, and infection of the genitals, infectious mononucleosis as well as shingles. Now scientists believe that it can also play a vital role in treating multiple sclerosis as well as Karposi's sarcoma. Studies have shown that Karposi's sarcoma may often put people suffering from AIDS to additionally endure severe mental problems.
In one study, scientists found that betulin based therapy was much more effectual compared to the existing herpes treatment, which is not only most popular, but also most widely used. Betulinic acid obtained from betulin as well as found in birch bark has been described as a substance that inhibits melanoma growth in humans very selectively. In addition, scientists said that they found that betulinic acid worked to stimulate apoptosis in the cancer cells. Findings of a number of studies involving mice, which carried uncharacteristic human skin growth, were also given betulinic acid-based treatments, following which it was found that such growths in these rodents were inhibited completely and they also did not suffer from any toxic reaction.
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Betulin as well as betulinic acid, a derivative of the natural compound, have exhibited several impressive effects such as supporting the immune system, protecting the liver and also showing anti-cancer actions. It has been found that betulin is very active against toxic substances, alcohol and hepatitis.
It has also been found that this extract from the white birch bark works to alleviate severe stomach problems like histamine and reserpine ulcers, ulcers associated to ingestion of acetylsalicylic acid and acetone as well as sub-chronic ulcers associated to Butadion.
Betulin as well as derivatives may also prove to be effective in curing HIV, toxicity due to cadmium, and human melanoma. It also has a potential of being used in medicines and have use in the pharmaceutical industry. It has been said that betulin, its derivative betulinic acid and various triterpenoid compounds derived from plants possess potent anti-inflammatory actions.