Razor strop fungus, birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)
Why might you have once found this fungus in an old barber’s shop?
It may not be obvious from its soft-looking exterior, but the birch polypore is also commonly referred to as the 'razor strop fungus’, because it was once used to help sharpen part of a barber’s shaving razor!
The Piptoporus betulinus also has an impressive repertoire of medicinal properties. Here are our top three:
- It is believed to have ‘styptic’ qualities, which means it can help staunch bleeding.
- Birch polypore is an antiviral. Research shows it could help prevent the reproduction of HIV cells and treat all kinds of infections, from flu to yellow fever to encephalitis.
- This mushroom may help fight tumours. It has the ability to aid in the destruction of cancer cells, without negatively affecting healthy cells.
The common puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Dan Rieck/ iStock
Football or fungus?
The common puffball is also referred to as ‘devils snuffbox’ and sometimes even as ‘wolf farts’! It is very common in the UK, and you may well have tried it before... but did you realise you could have been helping your health at the same time?
Studies have shown that Lycoperdon perlatum could have several medicinal benefits. Here are a few of our favourites:
- The common puffball used to be kept in blacksmiths' workshops because it was believed to help burns and staunch bleeding, thanks to its ‘styptic’ properties.
- The spores of this fungus are thought to be antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal.
- This means it could help fight all kinds of illnesses, like E. coli and salmonella.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Is this a mushroom? Or the burnt burl of a birch tree...?
You’d be forgiven for guessing it was charcoal, but it’s actually chaga!
Here are few of the potential medicinal properties of the Inonotus obliquus fungus:
- The polyphenols, polysaccharides and betulinic acid in chaga are thought to give it, like many other fungi species, immune-boosting and modulating benefits.
- Chaga is thought to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
- In traditional medicine, chaga is used to treat allergies, inflammatory digestive disorders and even cancer.