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The Red Belted Polypore

In this article I will talk about this wonderful little bracket fungus (Fomitopsis Pinicola ) and its medicinal properties! Common in the northern hemisphere, Red Belt can be found all year around. These beautiful conks can be found sprawled throughout the forests, growing on dead and decaying hardwoods like hemlocks, spruce and other confifer trees. They are turning rotting dead wood back into life again! These mushrooms use the dead hardwood trees as their substrate and their filaments of mycelium spread throughout these hemlocks and create the substrate for a number of conks to sprout from the old trees. Year after year these conks will continue to grow, growing bigger and bigger, they can sometimes persist for decades.

When the conk is young, it will start of dark redish brown. A new tube will form along the edge, as it matures the tubes will become red. As the polypore ages, it turns black. You can tell when a new growth has emerged becasue you will see a bright white band on the edge of the polypore. The underside of the red belt is a white, cream, sometimes a bit of yellow. They have tubes rather the gills that you see on your typical ground mushrooms, and these tubes are what hold the spore for reproduction.

perfect examples, dark to red to white depending on the age

There have been people who have found red belts the size of car tires! Tey vary in size, and the majority that I have come across have been about the size of my hand, the largest one I found was the size of a small soccer ball.

As mentioned before, red belt are perennial, The grow all season long, but in the spring is when the magic happens! They release their spores into the wind, were they travel the forest to find a new spot to lay and turn death back into life again! Mushrooms in the forest are an important part of the eco system, they provide food to others animals, and honey bees actually feed off their mycelium, which provides medicinal properties to the bees like antimicrobial properties! Wow ! They also help to break down old rotten wood and turn it back into soil for new plants and trees to take root. This helps to replenish the soil and put nutrients and minerals back into the forest. Another thing that mushrooms are very important for, is they are the network in which trees communicate through in a forest!! The mushroom that appears on the ground or tree is actually only the fruiting body of the entire mushroom, the rest of the mushroom is located inside the soil or the tree, this is called the mycelium. Mycelium are incredibly tiny “threads” of the greater fungal organism that wrap around or bore into tree roots. Taken together, myecelium composes what’s called a “mycorrhizal network,” which connects individual plants together to transfer water, nitrogen, carbon and other minerals. German forester Peter Wohlleben dubbed this network the “woodwide web,” as it is through the mycelium that trees “communicate.”

While harvesting red belt, keep in mind the rest of the eco sytem when doing so. An abundance of fungi is essential to the health of the entire forest!

If you find a colony of brackets, harvest 5 to 10% and leave the rest. Red belts are so common that you will certainly find more close by, you just have to keep looking ! When you do find them , you can easily just push down on the top f the fungi, and it will easily pop off of the tree without causing any damage to the tree. Keeping in mind, this is the fruit of the whole fungi, so removing it will promote more fungi growth. So fascinating isnt it!

Here is a beautiful specimen that I found, excreting what is called " guttation droplets". This phenomenon is excreted by many types of fungi, it is their way of letting go of excess water or moisture that is built up. When you are lucky enough to find a fungi that is performing this amazing feature, it almost looks as though the fungus is weeping! It is spectacular to look at especially if you catch it in the perfect light.

red belt releasing excess moisture

Guttation droplets

Now that we know were to find red belt, you know wat they look like and how to harvest them, let talk..... Medicinal properties! Tis is the good stuff. When you think of medicinal mushrooms, many people first think of reishi ( sometimes confused with red belt) or lions mane or turkey tail, however, te red belt has many documented and scientifically researched medicinal properties that are highly beneficial for your entire body. Lets take a deeper look.

Chemical composition: Triterpenes ergosterol, polyporenic acid C, egrosterol, ergosta-7, fungisterol, eburicoic acid, lamosterol, inotodiol, 21-hydroxy-lanosta-7, pinicolic acid.

-Strengthens your immune system and stimulated brain activity

-Fights off viral infections, and inflammatory issues within the body

-known to help fight TB, bronchitis and lung disease

-Helps with gi tract, intestinal problems and helps to flush out the intestines

-removes toxins from the body

-lowers blood sugar

-stops with the development of cancers and tumors, antitumor

-helps with cardiovascular systems, and urinary diseases

-support and improve overall health, regulate blood sugar, and also have antibacterial and antiseptic effect.

-It has a high antioxidant activity due to what is shown in the treatment of various diseases to enhance separation processes of toxic products of metabolism.

It has a high antifungal activity.

It has a pronounced antibacterial properties on pathogenic intestinal microflora, so is used to treat inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract of an infectious nature.

The first nations have also used this fungus as a traditional medicine. As you can clearly see, this mostly unknown mushroom carry a POWERHOUSE of medicinal properties! In my home, I use it as a daily tonic, just something for vitality and immune boosting properties. If you are planning to use red belt on your own, please make sure to do extensive research into how it can help your particular situation, and the proper dosing. For a daily preventative and overall health boost, use a tablespoon a few times a day.

If you are using for a chronic illness, it is best to use as a tincture, double extract, for a long period of time, 3 to 6 months. There are no known poisonous look a likes of the red belt, However, always make sure to 100% identify your fungus before harvesting and consuming.

Now I am going to share with you a very easy method for extracting all of the medicinal properties from a red belt mushroom.

This years harvest of red belts

You will need:

-80 to 95% alcohol , clear flavorless vodka is best

-glass jar for vodka infusion

-pot for decoction

First , chop up a fresh harvest of red belt, you can cut into slices or cube like I did. You will ave to chop when they are fresh otherwise they are tough and rubbery. Alternatively, if you happen to have mushrooms that are dried, you can soak them in water and then they will be pliable and easier to cut. You can dry them for later use, or use them fresh. Up to you !

Chopped and dried red belt!

So all you simple have to do is fill a glass jar, ( mason jars or even pickle jars work great) fill the jar up with half of your mushrooms and then fill it up with vodka. In the meantime, have a pot of water on the stove, try to make sure that the amount of water to the amount of vodka is the same, and that both together will fit in your final container. Once your water is at a low boil, reduce to simmer and dump in the other half of your red belt. Leave this to simmer, we call this a decoction, for atleast 4 hours.

Doing a double extraction is the best way to get all of the constituents from your mushrooms becasue they have water soluble compounds as well as alcohol soluble. If you only do one or the other then you are missing out on half of the medicinal benefits.

After your water bath is done brewing, find a larger jar ( pickle jar worked great for me) and pour in together both the water and alcohol extracts. let the jar cool down before tightening the lid, and then store in a cool dry dark place. Leave this combination to sit for a minimum of 4 weeks. After your double extract has been sitting long enough, simply use a cheese cloth to strain out all material from the liquid. Bottle up into dark glass bottles, label with the date, store in a dark cupboard.

That is literally all their is to it! There are many other methods out there, but this is the one that I was taught and It was worked out amazing for me. My tincture is very rich in color, and smells fantastic.

I have included on my youtube channel, the video in which I stumbled on a nice little colony of red belts, fastened to an old dead spruce tree. To watch that video, you can follow my link below! Like and subscribe to my channel to see more great adventures with the wildcraft family, and to see more upcoming videos of my adventures while out on a wildcrafting trip.

The information that i have provided is intended for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. I highly recommend that anybody who intends to hunt , harvest or forage for mushrooms and polypores seek a credible and reliable professional. None of the above information , or any information on our website is intended to treat, diagnose or cure in any way shape or form any disease or illness. We do not endorse the practice of self diagnosing or self treatment of any illness, therefore we highly recommend that you seek the professional advise of your trusted healthcare doctor before taking any herbs and supplements. All of our bodies are different, we all have different metabolisms and some people may react very differently then others when using any kind of natural remedy. Also be aware of any allergies that you may have before consuming plants and botanicals. As mentioned before, the information provided on this website is for education only. Please take control of your own lives and do your own thorough research!

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