Updated: Feb 26
Scientific name: Fomitopsis betulina
British name: Birch Polypore
Polish bame: Pniarek bzowy
Today I would like to share with you Birch Polypore, very common bracket fungus that grows on birch trees. Birch Polypore has many healing properties, has been used as medicine for over 5300 but for some reason it's still disregarded and forgotten.
People prefer to use more oriental plants or fungi, that usually are very expensive.
Not many of us put attention on medicinal benefits of Birch Polypore.
I am fascinated by its properties, not only medicinal but also it has many other practical uses.
I still remember my great-grandfather used it as a knife sharpener and as a heating pads for his sore back.
BIRCH POLYPORE (scientific name Fomitopsis Betulina, previously- Piptoporus Betulinus), other common names Birch Bracket or Razor Strop Fungus.
In Nature Birch Polypore grows exclusively on Birch trees as a parasite on living and damaged trees and slowly breaking trees down.
It can grow on other trees when it's artificially introduced to them, however in my opinion healing properties of Birch Polypore are coming from Birch tree itself.
I don't know of any research done about healing properties of this fungi if grown artificially on other trees.
However research has shown that the key to healing properties of Birch Polypore is in the relationship with its host tree- Birch.
Birch polypore contains high concentration of BETULINIC ACID from its host tree.
Read more about Betulinic Acid for Cancer Treatment and Prevention
Many studies proved that Betulinic Acid initiate apoptosis- DEATH OF CANCER CELLS.
Extended laboratory research has been done with this wonderful mushroom proving its medicinal properties.
HEALTH BENEFITS & MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF BIRCH POLYPORE:
1. Enhances IMMUNE SYSTEM in general as it contains POLYSACCHARIDES (primary metabolites, mostly glucans- most effective immune enhancing compound) . Strong immune system can fight with ease many diseases.
2. ANTI- TUMOUR. Has been used to support treatment of cancer, not only as immune tonic but also inhibits angiogenesis ( the formation of new blood cells which occurs in tumour growth) It can decrease amount of tumor cells not causing harm to normal cells. '' ... extracts studied had very low toxicity to normal cells, making it safe and effective treatment.''
3. ANTI- INFLAMMATORY properties due to TRITERPENE ACIDS (secondary metabolites), reduces swelling and numbing pain. Often synthetic medications cause inflammation and Birch Polypore is safe to take along with any medication, reducing inflammation.
4. ANTIBIOTIC. Birch Polypore contains antibiotic called PIPTAMINE. Effective in treatment various strains of bacteria including E.Coli. Harmful bacterias as Bacillus Subtilis and Biomphalaria Glabrata are also proven to be killed by Birch Polypore.
5. ANTIVIRAL PROPERTIES- Studies in 2001 show that extract of birch polypore containing betulinic acid have useful antiviral action against HIV by blocking its reproduction. Proven positive in healing encephalitis infections (inflammation of the brain), against flu, yellow fever and other dangerous to life viruses.
6. ANTISEPTIC & STYPTIC- Fantastic for cleaning wounds and an excellent aid in healing process. Its styptic properties help to stop bleeding. It can be used as antiseptic and styptic plaster on open wounds or blisters. It prevents infections when used as bandage. Also burnt into charcoal can be used as antiseptic. It not only heals the wound but also prevents from the scar.
7. ANTIFUNGAL PROPERTIES- Birch Polypore is not very keen to share its habitat with other mushrooms as it contains antifungal properties.
8. BALANCES HORMONES- Birch Polypore can regulate estrogen level in both men and women. High estrogen level is linked to hormonal imbalances and tumours. It prevents conversion of androgen hormones into estrogen.
9. NERVES SOOTHING & ANTI-FATIGUE
10. CLEANSING DIGESTIVE SYSTEM & ANTI- PARASITIC, it also has laxative properties, helps to detoxify organism. Parasitic intestinal worm, called Whipworm can be cured with Birch Polypore along with other internal parasites.
Birch Polypore is an Ancient Medicine and many laboratory reports confirm its extreme importance in today's medicine field.
OTHER PRACTICAL USES:
* Knife sharpener. It has been used in old barber shops to sharpen razor blades but also to give antifungal, antiseptic and styptic touch.
* used as a tinder to light the fire as it can hold flames for long time. Must have piece when out camping!
* as a base for mounting insects for collections
* used as a cloth to polish metals
* used as an ink blotters
* today is been used in biotechnology
FASCINATING FACT ABOUT BIRCH POLYPORE:
Birch Polypore is an Ancient Medicine used by folclore people for millennia.
Interesting fact is that pieces of this mushroom has been found beside the oldest European mummy, named Otzi.
Otzi has been discovered by two Australian hikers, Helmut and Erica Simon in 1991 in the Tyrol region of Italian Alps (Otztal Alps).
Otzi the Iceman lived in 3345-3300 BCE and it's the oldest well preserved natural European mummy, he is over 5300 years old.
Among Ötzi's possessions were berries, two birch bark baskets, and two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them on his neck.
One of these was birch polypore and was probably used for medicinal purposes.
The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex fire lighting kit.
The kit contained pieces of different plants, plus flint and pyrite for creating fire.
Examination of Otzi's body during autopsy shows that he has a parasitic intestinal worm, called Whipworm which can be cured with Birch Polypore.
It's fascinating how ancient people knew of medicinal uses of plants and fungi and how connected they were with the Nature.
Something that is vital for our health to re-learn as Nature has cure for any disease!
HOW TO USE BIRCH POLYPORE:
Many people drink it as a tea from fresh or dried mushroom or as a stock added to soups, sauces and other meals. Also it can be made as a tincture.
Extracted in water and simmered gently for about an hour will make an excellent immune tonic as it releases polysaccharides responsible to enhance immune system.
5-10g decoded dried mushrooms (1 cup of tea) a day is recommended to keep body healthy.
For medicinal purposes doses can be higher.
Extracted in alcohol as tincture will release triterpenes consisting anti- inflammatory properties.
Please consult your health practitioner regarding medicinal uses of this mushrooms.
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