Growing on dead or dying birch trees, the fungus Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) can be found around the globe in temperate climates wherever birch trees occur.
Birch Polypore’s main claim to fame is that it was found among the possessions of Oetzi, the mummified Stone Age man from 5,300 years ago whose remains were found in 1991 in a glacial ice cave on the border of Italy and Austria.
The general consensus is that Oetzi the Iceman used the Birch Polypore against an infection of the intestinal parasite Trichuris trichuria, of which eggs were found among his remains. 
Folk lore from Europe tells of Birch Polypore being used in this fashion, as a remedy against parasites. It has also been used as a general antibiotic, and to stop bleeding. 
Studies from 1997 also reported that compounds isolated from Birch Polypore helped reduce chronic skin inflammation  as well as inflammation in general. 
It was found effective against Bacillus megateterium,  and a study in 2000 found it to contain an antibiotic compound named Piptamine.  Paul Stamets suggests that it be studied for effectiveness against Bacillus anthracis, more commonly known as anthrax. 
Another potent compound isolated from Birch Polypore is Betulinic Acid, which is produced by birch trees and then extracted and concentrated by the Birch Polypores. A study on melanoma in 1995 found that Betulinic Acid exhibited toxicity against melanoma cells while having no adverse effect on healthy cells.  A later study, in 2002, may have discovered the mechanism behind Betulinic Acid’s cancer toxicity when it found that it inhibits certain enzymes involved in the growth and development of tumors. 
In a 2001 study on the effect of Betulinic Acid derivatives on HIV, it was reported that these compounds blocked HIV replication. 
In 2004, medicinal mushroom expert Paul Stamets filed a patent on an extraction method of Birch Polypore after researchers at USAMRIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease) and NIH (National Institute of Health) published findings that Stamets’ Birch Polypore extract effectively killed vaccinia and cowpox viruses while not harming human tissue. 
Note: The statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never use any herb (or mushroom) except as advised by a licensed medical practitioner.
Dr. Markho Rafael has been in the natural health field since Chiropractic College in the mid-90’s. He now specializes in research and writing about medicinal fungi, specifically working with the MycoMedicinals of Paul Stamets, whose Birch Polypore extract is part of the synergistic blend Paul Stamets Host Defense. For scientific references to this article, go to the Piptoporus betulinus research page.