Tinder conk is one of the polypores with proven medicinal benefits, attested by modern science. These mushrooms have been used to treat various conditions for thousands of years. A polypore fungus was used in treatment by the Agaria of Samaria, according to the ancient Greek Philosopher Dioscorides. In the year 200 AD, the species is recorded under the name Agaricum. Fomes fomentarius or the closely related Fomitopsis oficina was used to combat very serious diseases such as tuberculosis during the Middle Ages. In the traditional medicine of Europe, the species is used as a treatment for hemorrhoids, as well as a counter for issues of the bladder. It was also useful for stopping bleeding during surgery and considered to be an effective counter for dysmenorrhea. The old medical system of India employed tender conks for their diuretic effects. In addition, it was prescribed to calm nerves and to stimulate bowel movements, as a laxative. In China, tinder conk was used as a cure for throat cancer, a potentially lethal disease. It is thought to be effective against other forms of cancer as well, such as tumours of the uterus and stomach. This mushroom is rich in betulinic acid, a compound with very powerful antiviral effects. It is such a promising substance that it's currently investigated as a possible weapon against the deadly HIV virus. It is also a source of piptamine, a compound with very powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is known to kill the very dangerous E. coli, as well as a number of other bacterial strains. Because of its antiseptic benefits, the mushroom was used as a treatment for tuberculosis in the time of the Roman Empire. In antiquity, tinder conk was known for its ability to stop bleeding and widely used by the doctors of the time. It was very easy to apply and able to absorb a large quantity of blood. This was especially useful for surgeons, during medical interventions. It might have also been used to cauterize wounds, according to the writings of Hippocrates in the 5th century BC. For these reasons, it was also known as the surgeon's agaric. A very interesting use of the species is attested in ancient Chinese medicine, where it was considered a cure for several forms of cancer. This has attracted considerable interest from modern scientists, who are always looking for a cure for this disease. Doctors have established that the ability of the body to resist cancer is directly connected to the strength of the immune system. Cancer cells and their expansion are inhibited by the mechanisms of a healthy immune system. Angiogenesis inhibition is another very useful effect of Fomes Fomentarius. Some chemicals in its composition prevent the development of the blood vessel network that supports and feeds cancerous cells. In order to expand, tumours need a massive and constant supply of blood. Without it, their development is severely limited. Tinder conk mushrooms provide a number of other compounds that are able to reduce the risk of cancer or slow down its proliferation, by decreasing the motility of cells that make up tumours. They are also able to reduce the growth rate of tumours by altering the morphology of cells. While being harmless to healthy body cells, these compounds have a very toxic effect on mutated ones.
Tinder conk is a common mushroom with a very large area of distribution. It is frequently found in Europe, as well as all of Africa, eastern North America and many parts of Asia where forests are found. Tinder conk is typically encountered solitary but a single tree can sometimes host several fruiting bodies. Hardwoods are the most common host but it can be found on other tree species. Birch is the host of choice in northern forests, while beech is the most common in southern regions. The mushroom prefers oaks in the Mediterranean area. Other possible hosts are the willow, alder, hornbeam, sycamore, maple, cherry, hickory, lime tree or poplar. In exceptional cases, tinder conk can grow on conifers and other softwoods. Temperatures between 27 and 30 degrees Celsius allow the fastest rate of growth. As already mentioned, many species of trees can serve as hosts for tinder conk mushrooms. If you plan to harvest them in your area, you will quickly identify what is the preferred choice, so it will be easy to look for the fruiting bodies.