Birch Polypore Spagyric (Fomitopsis betulina) in 50mL miron glass anti-drip infinity bottle
15 drops, 2-3x per day
Named for its tree associate, the Birch Polypore is a common mushroom containing potent natural products, with a long history of human use. This cold-weather fungus is a brown rot that breaks down cellulose exclusively in birch trees, Betula sp. The birch polypore is a kidney shaped conk at maturity, with a texture reminiscent of neoprene and a constitution similar to squishy industrial foam. While its top appears to have been coated with cinnamon, its creamy white underside houses thousands of spore-containing pores. When the fruiting bodies of F. betulina are young and tender, they are considered edible. During the edible phase the mushrooms have an enjoyable odor, accompanied by a bitter taste . Mushroomlife employees wait until the fruit bodies are fully mature to harvest for extraction. Birch polypore conks age well and they tend to persist in the environment, each one can cling to the outside of a tree for more than a year.
F. betulina was often used as an ingredient in European ethnomedicine, especially in mycocentric regions such as Russia, Poland, and other Baltic countries [1, 2]. The earliest evidence of its use by humans dates back over five millennia. During the time of the Copper Age, approximately 5300 years ago in what is now the Italian Alps, a nomad was mysteriously murdered while crossing a mountain pass at 10,000 feet in elevation . HIs dead body was perfectly preserved in the ice and snow of the Val Senales glacier in the Ötztal Alps region. Fast forward to the fall of 1991, two hikers stumbled across a pristine Neolithic mummy while out for a stroll, which a journalist consequently named ‘Ötzi- the Iceman.’ Amongst his belongings, the Iceman carried two fragments of birch polypore fruiting body [1, 2]. Scientists postulate the birch polypore may have been used practically, for medicinal purposes or alternatively he may have kept it for artistic or spiritual reasons . It is incredible to imagine that a Neolithic man, who lived even before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids were constructed, may have been utilizing a mushroom as medicine.
Although Ötzi’s intended purpose for the birch polypore remains unclear, medicinal utility would be a strong guess. Analysis of the Iceman’s body revealed he suffered from both intestinal parasites (whipworms) and Lyme’s disease . In traditional preparations, such as the method Ötzi may have used, F. betulina was ingested orally after decoction as a hot tea . In ancient times the tea method was employed as either an anti-parasitic, anti-microbial, anti-cancer agent, or an analgesic [1, 2, 4]. Modern pharmacological studies have confirmed significant antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective activities of this mushroom .
In addition to internal applications, the spongy texture of the birch polypore also lends itself to applications for external use. Historically it was sliced into strips and applied directly to a wound, to combat bacterial infection and speed healing . Modern studies of F. betulina have confirmed its wound healing capabilities . Wound healing capacity was assessed by de Jesus et al. using an in vitro scratch assay that showed β-D-glucan increased cellular response to injury by promoting cellular migration .
There are a few studies that address the anti-cancer actions F. betulina at present. For instance the anti-cancer activities of novel glucooligosaccharides isolated from F. betulina were evaluated for the first time in 2019 in a model of colon cancer by Czerwonka et al. . They concluded that F. betulina has therapeutic potential to inhibit cancer cell growth via apoptosis . Also in 2019, novel Piptolinic acids were isolated from F. betulina and found to exhibit moderate cytotoxic activity against human melanoma and human renal carcinoma cell lines . Research into the anti-cancer potential of F. betulina extracts is still in its relative infancy, when compared to other mushrooms.
There is a ton of data however, from many research teams, using all different models and methods which support the antiviral and antimicrobial activity of F. betulina extracts in vitro, for more information see the beautifully cataloged Table 1 in Pleszczynska et al. . Among the large array of bioactivities of F. betulina extracts, some of the more noteworthy effects have occurred in animal studies. One pioneering study in the 1950s showed that water and ethanol extracts were able to cure canine venereal tumors . Another study in the 1970s showed water extracts of F. betulina administered intravenously in mice were amazingly able to protect them from lethal infection of tick borne encephalitis, by producing a substance with interferon-like properties .
Birch Polypore is the seventh and final Mushroom Spagyric, to complete our weekly series. This mushroom is associated with Saturday which correlates with Saturn, the coldest and slowest of the seven classical planets. Birch polypore is much like the planet Saturn since it can grow in the harshest winter, and thrives regardless of the wind and the cold. Its ability to stick to dead wood even after a tree has fallen means it lasts a long time, similar to the longer amount of time it takes Saturn to transit the sun in comparison to other classical planets. Saturn is tight and fixed, and very dense. In fact, Saturn has more mass than Jupiter does, just packed within a smaller volume. Birch polypore is the mushroom we have chosen to represent Saturday in our Mushroom Spagyric series, and therefore imbibes the qualities of Saturn.
We truly believe our process of Mushroom Spagyric creation is special, including the painstaking attention to detail and high level of discipline that is required. It takes a lot of time, financial resource, and physical work to produce even one single batch of spagyric extract. The level of dedication within those selflessly practicing these arts is a beautiful thing to behold. The process of spagyric creation is rooted in some of the oldest forms of transmutation practiced by mankind. The people who see the purpose behind this type of slow medicine are as special as the spagyrics themselves. With a keen eye on the mind, the stars, and the flask, we forge on in faith of obtaining a greater wellness through these operations. For a brief description what a spagyric is, how we make ours, and why, please click on our 'Spagyrics' tab at the top of the page.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- Grundemann, C., J.K. Reinhardt, and U. Lindequist, European medicinal mushrooms: Do they have potential for modern medicine? - An update. Phytomedicine, 2020. 66: p. 153131.
- Pleszczynska, M., et al., Fomitopsis betulina (formerly Piptoporus betulinus): the Iceman's polypore fungus with modern biotechnological potential. World J Microbiol Biotechnol, 2017. 33(5): p. 83.
- Archaeology, S.T.M.o. Ötzi the Mummy. 2016 8/25/2020]; Available from: https://www.iceman.it/en/the-mummy/.
- Grienke, U., et al., European medicinal polypores--a modern view on traditional uses. J Ethnopharmacol, 2014. 154(3): p. 564-83.
- de Jesus, L.I., et al., Chemical characterization and wound healing property of a beta-D-glucan from edible mushroom Piptoporus betulinus. Int J Biol Macromol, 2018. 117: p. 1361-1366.
- Czerwonka, A., et al., Antitumour effect of glucooligosaccharides obtained via hydrolysis of alpha-(1 --> 3)-glucan from Fomitopsis betulina. Mol Biol Rep, 2019. 46(6): p. 5977-5982.
- Khalilov, Q., et al., Piptolinic acids F-J, five new lanostane-type triterpenoids from Piptoporus betulinus. Nat Prod Res, 2019. 33(21): p. 3044-3051.
- Kandefer-Szerszen, M. and Z. Kawecki, Water extracts of fungi as interference inducers. Acta Microbiol Pol A, 1973. 5(3): p. 163-8.