Tag Archives: Birch

Betula papyrifera

Botanical Name: Betula papyrifera
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betula
Species: B. papyrifera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms: Betula alba var. papyrifera, Betula lenta var. papyrifera

Common Names: Paper Birch, Mountain paper birch, Kenai birch, white birch and canoe birch

Habitat: Betula papyrifera is native to Northern N. America to Greenland. It grows in woods, usually on slopes, edges of ponds, streams and swamps etc. Found in a wide range of soil conditions, but the best specimens are found in well-drained sandy-loam soils.
Description:
Betula papyrifera is a medium-sized deciduous tree typically reaching 20 metres (66 ft) tall, and exceptionally to 130 feet (40 m) with a trunk up to 30 inches (0.76 m) diameter. Within forests it is often grows with a single trunk but when grown as a landscape tree it may develop multiple trunks or branch close to the ground.

Paper birch is a typically short lived species. It handles heat and humidity poorly and may only live 30 years in zones six and up, while trees in colder-climate regions can grow over 100 years. B. papyrifera will grow on many soil types, from steep rocky outcrops to flat muskegs of the boreal forest. Best growth occurs on deeper, well drained to dry soils depending on the location.

In older trees the bark is white, commonly brightly so, flaking in fine horizontal strips to reveal a pinkish or salmon colored inner bark. It is often with small black marks and scars. In individuals younger than five years, the bark appears a brown red color with white lenticels, making the tree much harder to distinguish from other birches. The bark is highly weather-resistant. The bark has a high oil content and this gives it its waterproof and weather resistant characteristics. Often, the wood of a downed paper birch will rot away leaving the hollow bark intact.

* The leaves are dark green and smooth on the upper surface, the lower surface is often pubescent on the veins. The leaves are alternately arranged on the stem, oval to triangular in shape, 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and about 2/3 as wide. The leaf is rounded at the base and tapering to an acutely pointed tip. The leaves have a doubly serrate margin with relatively sharp teeth. Each leaf has a petiole ~2.5 cm (1 in) long which connects it to the stems.

* The fall color is a bright yellow color which contributes to the bright colors within the northern deciduous forest.
* The leaf buds are conical and small and green-colored with brown edges.
* The stems are a reddish brown color and may be somewhat hairy when young.

* The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins, the female flowers are greenish and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long growing from the tips of twigs. The male (staminate) flowers are 2–4 inches (5.1–10.2 cm) long and a brownish color. It flowers from mid-April to June depending on location.Paper birch is monoicous meaning that one plant has both male and female flowers.

* The fruit matures in the fall. The mature fruit is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts. They drop between September and spring. At 15 years of age the tree will start producing seeds but will be in peak seed production between 40–70 years. The seed production is irregular with a heavy seed crops being produced typically every other year and with at least some seeds being produced every year. In average seed years, 1 million seeds/acre are produced but in bumper years 35 million/acre may be produced. The seeds are light and blow in the wind to new areas, they may also blow along the surface of the snow.

* The roots are generally shallow and occupy the upper 24 inches (61 cm) of the soil and do not form taproots. High winds are more likely to break the trunk than to uproot the tree.

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Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. Tolerates most soils including poor soils and heavy clays. Fairly wind tolerant. This species is very unhappy on our windy site in Cornwall. A fast-growing but short-lived species. It is often a pioneer species of areas ravaged by fire. The trunk and branches are easily killed by fire, though the tree usually regenerates from the roots. It hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. This species was an exceedingly important tree for the Indians – they utilized it for a very wide range of applications and it was a central item in their economy. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:
Inner bark – raw or cooked. Best in the spring. The inner bark can also be dried and ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups or be added to flour and used in making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on warm sunny days following a hard frost. The sap usually runs freely, but the sugar content is lower than in the sugar maples. A pleasant sweet drink, it can also be concentrated into a syrup or sugar by boiling off much of the water. The sap can also be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”[269]. Very young leaves, shoots and catkins – raw or cooked. A tea is made from the young leaves and also from the root bark.
Medicinal Uses:
Paper birch was often employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who used it especially to treat skin problems. It is little used in modern herbalism. The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative. The dried and powdered bark has been used to treat nappy rash in babies and various other skin rashes. A poultice of the thin outer bark has been used as a bandage on burns. A decoction of the inner bark has been used as a wash on rashes and other skin sores. Taken internally, the decoction has been used to treat dysentery and various diseases of the blood. The bark has been used to make casts for broken limbs. A soft material such as a cloth is placed next to the skin over the broken bone. Birch bark is then tied over the cloth and is gently heated until it shrinks to fit the limb. A decoction of the wood has been used to induce sweating and to ensure an adequate supply of milk in a nursing mother. A decoction of both the wood and the bark has been used to treat female ailments. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.

Other Uses :
Dye; Fuel; Hair; Miscellany; Paper; Pioneer; Waterproofing; Wood.

The thin outer bark is used to make drinking vessels, canoe skins, roofing tiles, buckets etc. This material was very widely used by various native North American Indian tribes, it is waterproof, durable, tough and resinous. Only the thin outer bark is removed, this does not kill the tree. It is most easily removed in late spring to early summer. The outer bark has also been used as emergency sun-glasses in order to prevent snow-blindness. A strip of bark 4 – 5cm wide is placed over the eyes, the natural openings (lenticels) in the bark serving as apertures for the eyes. A brown to red dye can be made from the inner bark. A pioneer species, it rapidly invades deforested areas (such as after a forest fire or logging) and creates suitable conditions for other woodland trees to follow. Because it cannot grow or reproduce very successfully in the shade it is eventually out-competed by the other woodland trees. The tree has an extensive root system and can be planted to control banks from erosion. The bark is a good tinder. An infusion of the leaves is used as a hair shampoo, it is effective against dandruff. The thin outer bark can be used as a paper substitute. It is carefully peeled off the tree and used as it is. A fibre is obtained from the inner bark and another from the heartwood, these are used in making paper[189]. The heartwood fibre is 0.8 – 2.7mm long, that from the bark is probably longer. The branches of the tree can be harvested in spring or summer, the leaves and outer bark are removed, the branches are steamed and the fibres stripped off. Wood – strong, hard, light, very close grained, elastic, not durable. It weighs 37lb per cubic foot and is used for turnery, veneer, pulp etc. It is also used as a fuel. It splits easily and gives off considerable heat even when green, but tends to quickly coat chimneys with a layer of tar.
Known Hazards : The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_papyrifera
http://www.pfaf.org/USER/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+papyrifera

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Betula alleghaniensis

Botanical Name: Betula alleghaniensis
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betulenta
Species: B. alleghaniensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiosperms
Class: Eudicots, Magnoliophyta, >Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales

Synonyms : Betula lutea.

Common Names: Yellow Birch,Swamp Birch, Golden Birch.(Betula alleghaniensis is the provincial tree of Quebec, where it is commonly called Merisier, a name which in France is used for the wild cherry.)

Habitat :Betula alleghaniensis is native to North-eastern N. America – Newfoundland to Virginia and Tennessee. It is usually found in moist well-drained soils in rich woodlands on lower slopes, it is also found in cool marshlands in the south of its range.
Description:
Betula alleghaniensis is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 meters (66 ft) tall (exceptionally to 30 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm (2.6 ft) diameter. The bark is smooth, yellow-bronze, flaking in fine horizontal strips, and often with small black marks and scars. The twigs, when scraped, have a slight scent of wintergreen oil, though not as strongly so as the related Sweet Birch. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 6–12 cm long (2.4–4.7 in) and 4–9 cm broad (1.6–3.5 in), with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3–6 cm long (1.2–2.4 in); the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, mature in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

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Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Specimen, Woodland garden. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes wet soils. Shade tolerant. A slow-growing tree, it is relatively long-lived for a birch, with specimens 200 years old recorded. Plants often grow taller than the 12 metres mentioned above. The trees are highly susceptible to forest fires, even when wet the bark is highly inflammable. The bruised foliage has a strong smell of wintergreen. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:
Inner bark – cooked or dried and ground into a powder and used with cereals in making bread. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. The sap is harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. It flows abundantly, but the sugar content is much lower than maple sap. A pleasant drink, it can also be concentrated into a syrup or fermented into a beer. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”. A tea is made from the twigs and leaves. The dried leaves are used according to another report. An excellent flavour. The twigs and leaves have the flavour of wintergreen and can be used as condiments.
Medicinal Uses:
Yellow birch is little used medicinally, though a decoction of the bark has been used by the native North American Indians as a blood purifier, acting to cleanse the body by its emetic and cathartic properties. The bark is a source of ‘Oil of Wintergreen‘. This does have medicinal properties, though it is mainly used as a flavouring in medicines.

Other Uses
Containers; Fuel; Waterproofing; Wood.

The bark is waterproof and has been used by native peoples as the outer skin of canoes, as roofing material on dwellings and to make containers such as buckets, baskets and dishes. Wood – close-grained, very strong, hard, heavy. The wood is too dense to float. An important source of hardwood lumber, it is used for furniture, boxes, tubs of wheels, floors etc. It is also often used as a fuel

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_alleghaniensis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+alleghaniensis

Betula alleghaniensis

Botanical Name: Betula alleghaniensis
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betulenta
Species: B. alleghaniensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiosperms
Class: Eudicots, Magnoliophyta, >Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales

Synonyms : Betula lutea.

Common Names: Yellow Birch,Swamp Birch, Golden Birch.(Betula alleghaniensis is the provincial tree of Quebec, where it is commonly called Merisier, a name which in France is used for the wild cherry.)

Habitat :Betula alleghaniensis is native to North-eastern N. America – Newfoundland to Virginia and Tennessee. It is usually found in moist well-drained soils in rich woodlands on lower slopes, it is also found in cool marshlands in the south of its range.
Description:
Betula alleghaniensis is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 meters (66 ft) tall (exceptionally to 30 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm (2.6 ft) diameter. The bark is smooth, yellow-bronze, flaking in fine horizontal strips, and often with small black marks and scars. The twigs, when scraped, have a slight scent of wintergreen oil, though not as strongly so as the related Sweet Birch. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 6–12 cm long (2.4–4.7 in) and 4–9 cm broad (1.6–3.5 in), with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3–6 cm long (1.2–2.4 in); the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, mature in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Specimen, Woodland garden. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes wet soils. Shade tolerant. A slow-growing tree, it is relatively long-lived for a birch, with specimens 200 years old recorded. Plants often grow taller than the 12 metres mentioned above. The trees are highly susceptible to forest fires, even when wet the bark is highly inflammable. The bruised foliage has a strong smell of wintergreen. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:

Inner bark – cooked or dried and ground into a powder and used with cereals in making bread. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply[K]. Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour.  The sap is harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. It flows abundantly, but the sugar content is much lower than maple sap. A pleasant drink, it can also be concentrated into a syrup or fermented into a beer. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”. A tea is made from the twigs and leaves. The dried leaves are used according to another report.  An excellent flavour. The twigs and leaves have the flavour of wintergreen and can be used as condiments.
Medicinal Uses:
Yellow birch is little used medicinally, though a decoction of the bark has been used by the native North American Indians as a blood purifier, acting to cleanse the body by its emetic and cathartic properties. The bark is a source of ‘Oil of Wintergreen‘. This does have medicinal properties, though it is mainly used as a flavouring in medicines.

Other Uses
Containers; Fuel; Waterproofing; Wood.

The bark is waterproof and has been used by native peoples as the outer skin of canoes, as roofing material on dwellings and to make containers such as buckets, baskets and dishes. Wood – close-grained, very strong, hard, heavy. The wood is too dense to float. An important source of hardwood lumber, it is used for furniture, boxes, tubs of wheels, floors etc. It is also often used as a fuel

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_alleghaniensis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+alleghaniensis

Equisetum sylvaticum

Botanical Name : Equisetum sylvaticum
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. sylvaticum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Common Name : Wood horsetail, Woodland horsetail

Habitat : Equisetum sylvaticum is native to temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia. It grows on damp woods on acid soils, moors etc.

These horsetails are commonly found in wet or swampy forest, open woodlands, and meadow areas. The plant is an indicator of boreal and cool-temperate climates, and very moist to wet, nitrogen-poor soils.
Description:
Equisetum sylvaticum is a perennial plant. It has erect, hollow stems that grow from 30 to 60 cm in length and from 1-4 mm thick. The branches themselves are compound and delicate, occurring in whorls and drooping downward. There are generally 12 or more branches per whorl. Fertile stems are at first tan-to-brown and unbranched, but later become like the sterile stems, which are more highly branched and green. All the stems have 10-18 spiny vertical ridges that contain silica spicules. The leaves are scales fused into sheaths that cover the stems and branches. These spiny leaves are larger and looser on the fertile stems.

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The fertile stems are shorter than the others; on these develop the cones that bear the spore casings. The leaves develop on the fertile stems and the stems lengthen; then the cones open to release their spores. The cones then drop off. This process takes a few weeks. All the stems may continue to grow until fall and generally die back over winter.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. The seeds ripen from Apr to May.

Reproduction:
This plant reproduces by spores, but its primary means of reproduction is done vegetatively by rhizomes. These rhizome systems are deep and extensive, as well as extremely long-lived. These creeping rhizomes occasionally produce tubers, and often outweigh the above-ground growth by 100 to 1.
Cultivation:
Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground.

Propagation :
Spores – best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.
Edible Uses:
Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – cooked. An asparagus substitute, though it is neither very palatable nor very nutritious. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Roots – cooked. A source of starch. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. The plant is astringent, diuretic and styptic. The barren stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are use. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, internal bleeding. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing.
Other Uses:
Dye; Fungicide; Hair; Sandpaper; Scourer.
The stems can be used for scouring and polishing metal and as a fine sandpaper. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses. It also makes a good liquid feed. Used as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites. A light pink dye is obtained from the stem
Known Hazards: Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase. The plant also contains equisetic acid – see the notes on medicinal uses for more information

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with   your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum_sylvaticum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Equisetum+sylvaticum

Inonotus obliquus

Botanical Name :Inonotus obliquus
Family: Hymenochaetaceae
Genus: Inonotus
Species: I. obliquus
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Hymenochaetales

Common Names  : Chaga Mushroom , Cinder conk, Birch mushroom

Habitat : Inonotus obliquus grows in birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, northern areas of the United States, in the North Carolina mountains and in Canada. The chaga mushroom is considered a medicinal mushroom in Russian and Eastern European folk medicine

Description:
It is parasitic on birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal. It is not the fruiting body of the fungus, but a mass of mycelium, mostly black due to the presence of massive amounts of melanin. The fertile fruiting body can be found very rarely as a resupinate (crustose) fungus on or near the clinker, usually appearing after the host tree is dead.

click to see the pictures….…(01).....(1)..….…(2)..……..(3).….…(4)….…...(5)..……

Cultivation:
Geographically this fungus is mostly found in very cold habitats. It grows very slowly, suggesting it is not a reliable source of bioactive compounds in the long run. Attempts at cultivating this fungus all resulted in a reduced and markedly different production of bioactive metabolites.[9][10]Secondary metabolites were either absent or present in very different ratios, and in general showed significantly less potency in cultivated Chaga.  Cultivated Chaga furthermore results in a reduced diversity of phytosterols, particularly lanosterol, an intermediate in the synthesis of ergosterol and lanostane-type triterpenes. This effect was partially reversed by the addition of silver ion, an inhibitor of ergosterol biosynthesis.

Additionally, the bioactive triterpene betulinic acid is completely absent in cultivated Chaga. In nature Chaga grows pre-dominantly on birches, and birch bark contains up to 22% of betulin. Betulin is poorly absorbed by humans, even when taken intravenously; its bioavailability is very limited. However, the Chaga mushroom converts betulin into betulinic acid, and many internet sources state Chaga’s betulinic acid is bioavailable, even when taken orally. Unfortunately there is no research that confirms this claims.

Medicinal Uses:
Properties: * Analgesic * Antioxidant * AntiViral * Immunostimulant

Chaga mushrooms, or cinder conks, have been a staple of traditional medicine for centuries among the peoples of the boreal forests in Siberia, Asia and North America. They are used as a tonic and blood purifier. They belong to the Polypores, a group of mushrooms that grow on wood and may be the ancestors of most gilled mushrooms. Chaga and the similar reishi mushroom both have a reputation as tonics for longevity and health which are born out by recent scientific studies. These mushrooms show great promise for their anti-viral activities, immune response stimulation and anti-tumor effects that inhibit the spread of cancer cells.

In China, Japan and South Korea, extracts of chaga and other mushrooms from the family Hymenochaetaceae are being produced, sold and exported as anticancer medicinal supplements. The main bioactive ingredient in these extracts are usually (1>3)(1>6) Beta-D-glucans, a type of water-soluble polysaccharide. The biologic properties of crude preparations of these specific Beta-D-glucans have been subject of research since the 1960s.

Although these macro-molecules exhibit a wide range of biologic functions, including antitumor activity, their ability to prevent a range of infectious diseases (by triggering and supporting the immune function) has been studied in the greatest detail. Recent scientific research in Japan and China has been focused more on the anticancer potential and showed the effects of these specific beta-glucans to be comparable to chemotherapy and radiation, but without the side effects. Further research indicated these polysaccharides have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties, stimulating the body to produce natural killer (NK) cells to battle infections and tumor growth, instead of showing a direct toxicity against pathogens. This property makes well-prepared medicinal mushroom extracts stand out from standard pharmaceuticals – no side effects will occur or develop; the body is healing itself, triggered into action by the BRM effect of the chaga extract. Herbalist David Winston maintains it is the strongest anticancer medicinal mushroom. Russian literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his autobiographical novel, based on his experiences in a hospital in Tashkent, Cancer Ward (1968).

Since the 16th century, chaga mushrooms were recorded as being used in folk medicine and the botanical medicine of the Eastern European countries as a remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers, and tuberculosis of the bones. A review from 2010 stated, “As early as in the 16th century, chaga was used as an effective folk medicine in Russia and Northern Europe to treat several human malicious tumors and other diseases in the absence of any unacceptable toxic side effects.”

Chemical analysis shows that I. obliquus produces during its development and growth a range of secondary metabolites, including phenolic compounds such as melanins, and lanostane-type triterpenes, which include a small percentage of betulinic acid. Among these metabolites are biologically active components which have been researched and tested for their potential antioxidant, antitumoral, and antiviral activities. Both betulin and betulinic acid are being studied for use as chemotherapeutic agents and are already used as anti-HIV agents ). In an animal study, researchers found betulin from birch bark lowered cholesterol, obesity and improved insulin resistance.

In 1958, scientific studies in Finland and Russia found chaga provided an epochal effect in breast cancer, liver cancer, uterine cancer, and gastric cancer, as well as in hypertension and diabetes.

Research:
A 1998 study in Poland demonstrated chaga’s inhibiting effects on tumor growth. Noda and colleagues found betulin seems to work highly selectively on tumor cells because the interior pH of tumor tissues is generally lower than that of normal tissues, and betulinic acid is only active at those lower levels. Fulda et al. found, in 1997, once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors.[citation needed] In 2005, I. obliquus was evaluated for its potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in a human keratinocyte cell line. The study found the polyphenolic extract protected these cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Another study that year found the endopolysaccharide of chaga produced indirect anticancer effects via immunostimulation. The mycelial endopolysaccharide of I. obliquus was identified as a candidate for use as an immune response modifier and indicated the anticancer effect of endopolysaccharide is not directly tumoricidal, but rather is immunostimulation. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Saitoh Akiko published on the antimutagenic effects of chaga in 1996. Mizuno et al. published on the antitumor and hypoglycemic activities of the polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of chaga. Due to the serum glucose-lowering activity of polysaccharides, caution should be taken by those with hypoglycemia

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail502.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus

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