A University of Minnesota startup is finding new commercial uses for birch bark.
The venture is called The Actives Factory and it's based in Two Harbors. The university says it will extract and synthesize naturally occurring chemicals from birch bark to manufacture cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and eventually drugs and industrial products.
The university says three birch bark compounds, in particular, have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, treat fungal and bacterial infections, stimulate the immune system, and more.
The birch bark will be supplied by the region's paper mills, which have plenty of it. They consider it a waste product and typically burn it.
The company plans to begin manufacturing by this spring.
UMD Chemical Extractives Laboratory: http://www.nrri.umn.edu/cartd/lce/default.htm