Piptoporus Betulinus (Birch Bracket Mushroom, Kanbatake)
Piptoporus or the bracket fungus is a type of saprophytic fungi, which belongs to the family Fomitopsidaceae. You may also know this mushroom by other names such as Birch Bracket, Razor Strop or Birch Polypore.
Within its family, Piptoporus Betulinus is the most common. The mushroom is obviously a polypore and its reference as ‘Birch’ emanates from the fact that it usually hitches on this type of tree. Its life span is usually beyond twelve months. It is known to be an ancient fungus because a mummy that was discovered in the Alps in 1991 and thought to be more than 5000 years old showed evidence that the ‘Iceman’ had been buried together with this mushroom. In the ancient days, it was also used as tinder since its embers can hold a flame for quite a while.
The Piptoporus Betulinus grows well in cold climates just like its host, the Birch tree. The Birch is very common in the arctic and North European countries. Finland, for instance, has exalted the Birch as its national tree. In short wherever there is extreme cold and the Birch tree, you can expect to find the Piptoporus Betulinus fungus.
And it has not been ignored either; rather, the people have started growing it commercially due to its numerous medicinal benefits. Apart from Northern Europe, the Birch Bracket Mushroom is also found in Asia and America. In Canada, one will find it in the British Columbia. It can also be traced to Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba. It also grows well in Alberta and Ontario too. Down in the United States, it flourishes in the states of Massachusetts, Washington, New Hampshire, Virginia, Maine, New York, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and North West Carolina.
The caps of the Piptoporus Betulinus range in colour between white and brown. The surface of its pore area also ranges in colour between white and greyish brown. When growing, this mushroom begins as a tiny swelling on its host. The mushroom is not harmful to eat but its bitter taste does not attract many people. It’s just as well because then it is spared and made precious use of as a source of medicine. Still, it is not entirely safe from insects.
In the ancient days, people used it to clear parasitic worms from the stomach and the digestive system. It was mainly added to tea where it acted as a laxative. Tea brewed with this mushroom is still taken today to soothe the nerves or eliminate fatigue.
One of its most important health benefits is boosting the immune system. This is particularly important because a body with a strong immune system does not suffer ill health easily. The fungus also boasts antiseptic properties. It prevents infections when used as bandage. In fact, some testimonies by people who have used it are interesting and fascinating. Users have said that not only does the mushroom heal the wound, but that it also leaves no scar even when the wound was deep.
The Birch Bracket Mushroom is anti-inflammatory. This means that it is capable of reducing or entirely numbing pain without touching on the Central Nervous System. Such natural products are in great demand because many ailments cause inflammation at some stage, and often synthetic medications trigger unwanted side effects. In other instances, medications themselves cause inflammation and products from this mushroom can be taken alongside such medications to neutralise inflammation.
Research done referencing Roseckeet al, 2000, identified chemicals from the Birch Bracket Mushroom including ketones and terpenes. There are also aliphatic alcohols. There are Aldehydes and some nice smelling compounds present too. Further analysis in (Kamo et al, 2003) identified polyporenic acids i.e. acids A and C. All these contribute in making the mushroom the anti-inflammatory agent that it is.
Other reports (Keller et al, 2002) mentioned Piptamine as an antibiotic in Piptoporus Betulinus. In the studies, the extracts successfully wiped out the bacterium Escherichia coli. It also killed other harmful bacteria mainly Bacillussubtilis and Biomphalariaglabrata which was not spared either. This confirms that this mushroom is extremely important in the field of medicine.
Research done earlier on had confirmed the presence of nucleic acid in the mushroom that was able to attack and incapacitate the virus encephalitis (Kandefer-Szerszen et al, 1979). The mushroom therefore can claim to have anti-viral properties.
The mushroom, Piptoporus Betulinus, is hailed as being able to fight tumours. Research done based on white mice proved that the Polysaccharides in the mushroom are were to curb the advancement of Ehrlich solid cancers by 90%. They were also able to restrict the advancement of Sarcoma 180 by the same percentage. (Ohtsukaet al, 1973).
The Magical Birch Polypore