Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Expedition Philippines - TV show concept - please donate

 TV show Idea, please donate via the link below
The idea I'm presenting to you today is based on an expedition concept taking place in the Philippines. We chose the PI for the 1st venue because I have the proper connections with fixers, police, security, and medical personnel in Cebu.

Including myself, I have lined up 5 popular TV survival personalities willing to participate in the show, and 3 more who want to commit but need a time frame. I have also brought on board several Aeta and Batak Jungle guides, and have spoken with the Badjao ( sea gypsies) about participating in the sea survival episode.

See you on the trail,
Tom Moore Link:
 Facebook Expedition page link:

"Natural Instinct"(Working title)
- Expedition Philippines is a wilderness expedition based adventure TV show. This show follows Colonel "Tomahawk" with a Native guide and a different companion in each episode as They will travel throughout the Philippines. They will meet Several different indigenous tribes and will demonstrate how to cope with the dangers of wilderness travel.

Tomahawk and friends will also learn jungle and sea survival skills from the indigenous tribes they meet. The show will be skills oriented, but also expose the cast members to the many dangers and the stress involved with wilderness travel. This show is a high stakes Adventure series Not a survival show. However we will practice on a daily basis the various survival skills learned from the indigenous tribes we meet. Cast members will face many dangers in the form of animals, storms, natural obstacles, poisonous plants, and the daily stresses of a total wilderness immersion expedition.

The wilderness skills, mental toughness and self discipline  of Tomahawk and his friends will be severely tested. Cast members will have to face the dangers and deal with the stresses of each new challenge in this high stakes adventure TV show.

The 1st series will have 7 episodes (possibly an 8th Unconfirmed).

1.Jungle living skills with the Aeta (Culture/Adventure).

2.Escape from a desert Island (Sailing/Adventure).

3.Native fishing in Samar (Culture/Adventure).

4.Climb Mount Pulag the 2nd highest mountain in the Philippines (Adventure) - A two part show.

5.Exploring the jungle and learning medicinal plant lore with the Batak of Palawan (Cultural/Adventure).

6.Jungle Expedition with the Aeta (wilderness/Cultural /Adventure).

7.Sailing and travel in an open filipino Banca outrigger canoe.Badjao - sea gypsie, (Sailing/Adventure)

Colonel Tom Moore - Maine and Montana wilderness guide, Explorer, Author, professional adventurer and Global survival practitioner. Former Co-host of the Discovery channel show "Dude you're screwed".

Snake Blocker - Star of Episode 1 season 1 "Deadliest Warrior" Apache vs Gladiator. World champion knife fighter, Kick Boxer, U.S. Navy Veteran, All around survival expert and Member of the Lipan Apache tribe.

Manu Toigo - star of the popular discovery channel show "Naked and afraid".

Jing Lavilles de Egurrola -  Local Filipino Jungle survival instructor, Bushcraft practitioner, and skilled Mountain guide.

Will Rhys Davies - AKA "Jungle Wil", Skilled survival practitioner, mountain climber, Adventurer and UK Military veteran.

One Aeta guide and One Batak guide, and one Badjao (sea gypsie)

Possible cast members are:

Samuel Larson form the History channel show "Alone".

EJ Snyder from the Discovery channel show "Naked and Afraid"

Tim Smith from the Discovery channel show "Dude you're screwed" season 2

Alfred Sese , Filipino knife fighter and local jungle survival expert

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The didgeridoo (didjeridu)

I always loved the sound of a "didge", Up in Maine, at the Jack Mountain Bushcraft school, we make them from plastic PVC pipe. There is something primal in the sound, and combined with a fire at is awesome.

In Australia,The didgeridoo, traditionally played by men in ceremony, is a purely Aboriginal invention and is thought to be the world's oldest wind instrument. The didgeridoo is deceptively simple in design but is, in fact, a complicated instrument.

 A termite-hollowed didgeridoo tends to be wider in diameter at the bottom than the top, which creates unusual resonant frequencies. The vocalizations and circular breathing technique required to play it initiate sound wave interactions between the players' lips and vocal tract, and within the instrument itself. This creates the didgeridoo's distinctive sound.

I have played ones made in Oz , but prefer the PVC pipe "didge" because it is lighter and easier for me to play. Not to mention the fact that you can throw a plastic one in a canoe and there is no need to worry about messing it up or breaking it.

See you on the trail!


Australian Indigenous tools and technology

Great info provided by the Australian government.

See you on the trail!


Australian Indigenous tools and technology

Warning. Australian Stories may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. Australian Stories also contain links to sites that may use images of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased.
The key to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander technologies is both their intimate understanding of the natural environment as well as their skills in designing artefacts that were flexible and adaptable.

Tools and technology implements

Louis Jupurrula making a Ludo Kuipers, Louis Jupurrula making a 'karli' or boomerang in Lajamanu, a Warlpiri Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, 1981. Courtesy of OzOutback Internet Services - external site.
Tools and implements reflect the geographical location of different groups. For example, coastal tribes used fishbone to tip their weapons, whereas desert tribes used stone tips. While tools varied by group and location, Aboriginal people all had implements such as knives, scrapers, axe-heads, spears, various vessels for eating and drinking, and digging sticks.
Aboriginal people achieved two world firsts with stone technology - external site. They were the first to introduce ground edges on cutting tools and to grind seed. They used stone tools for many things including: to make other tools, to get and prepare food, to chop wood, and to prepare animal skins.
Stone fish traps are used in rivers where water levels rise and fall. Stone fish traps - external site on the Darling River at Brewarrina are used to catch fish after rain. The Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape - external site in south-west Victoria contains the remains of one of Australia's largest aquaculture systems and the only remaining permanent houses built by an Indigenous community in Australia.
After European discovery and English colonisation, Aboriginal people quickly realised the advantages of incorporating metal, glass and ceramics. They were easier to work with, gave a very sharp edge, and needed less resharpening.
While stone tools have survived well, the great majority of technological items were made of perishable material such as wood and fibre. Boomerangs, clubs and spears were the most common weapons.



Tasmanian aboriginal implementsClaude-Marie-Francois Dien, 1787-1865, Terre de Diemen, armes et ornemens, 1824, engraving, hand col. Courtesy of National Library of Australia - external site.
Spears are used for hunting, fishing and fighting. Some are made from single pieces of wood. Tasmanian Aborigines had very long spears, about six metres in length.
Many spears have to be made from light wood. Oyster Bay pine saplings grow tall and straight. With the lightness, tallness and straightness of them, you rarely had to work them over a fire. We used to bind the spear shafts with yacca [grass tree, Xanthorrhoea] gum sap and kangaroo sinews. Apart from fighting spears, we had six-metre-long canoe spears, and short stumpy spears for spearing seals.
Brendan Brown, Rocky Point, Cape Barren Island, 2000
Other spears are made from one or more parts attached to a wooden shaft. Composite spears with stone heads are found mostly in the centre, north and Kimberley regions of Australia. Detachable barbed spears are common across the continent, from the south-west through the centre to Cape York Peninsula.
Multi-pronged spears are generally used for fishing and are mostly found in the north and south-east of Australia.


Credited with inventing the boomerang - external site, many Aboriginal groups used this tool mainly for hunting but also in ceremonies. The weapon can easily kill a small animal or knock down a larger one. The way that boomerangs work is very complex. Part of the explanation is that boomerangs are flatter on the lower side and more curved on top in a shape called an aerofoil.
Aborigines had boomerangs to suit different purposes. For instance, in desert areas, heavy wood from the mulga tree was used to make boomerangs for hunting kangaroos, whereas lighter boomerangs were made on the New South Wales coast from mangrove trees, where they were used for duck hunting.
In 1914, inventor David Unaipon - external site (1872–1967) used the principles of boomerang flight to anticipate the helicopter. A Ngarrindjeri man, from South Australia, Unaipon was fascinated by the idea of perpetual motion and invented such things as an improved handpiece for sheepshearing, a centrifugal motor and a multi-radial wheel. David Unaipon is commemorated on Australia's $50 note.


Photograph of George Manyita about to throw a 3-pronged fish spearLudo Kuipers, George Manyita about to throw a 3-pronged fish spear, Mukarrmuli billabong near Wuymol/Bulman, an Aboriginal community in the south of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, 1983. Courtesy of OzOutback Internet Services - external site.
Hunters all over the world have used spears. The 'woomera - external site', a type of spearthrower, is an Aboriginal invention. A woomera is a simple lever that acts to increase the speed at which a spear is thrown, and thus increase the distance it travels. Made of wood, a woomera acts as an extension of the thrower's arm. A woomera and spear were the fastest weapons in the world before the invention of the self-loading rifle (Eric Willmot).
Woomeras were multipurpose tools that could be fitted with a stone cutting tool or an axe-like attachment. If you had a good woomera, you could hunt, chop firewood, cut down branches to make a shelter or chop up meat. It was lightweight and easy to carry around, which was really important in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Message sticks

Throughout Australia, Aboriginals had over 200 different languages and 600 dialects, yet no written language. Communication of information to all these different groups was often through a message stick. Each stick was carved in a way that would help the carrier remember the message and prove to the recipient that the information was genuine. Message sticks meant that a complex or very long message could be communicated between people. This was supported by people who acted as 'diplomats' and others who were multilingual and used as translators.

Nets, baskets and bags

Batjparra, traditional sieveElizabeth Djuttarra, Batjparra, traditional sieve. Elizabeth Djuttarra. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia, 2007.
Fibrework nets, traps, baskets and bags are used extensively for fishing and hunting. In earlier time, fibre objects were crucial for the sustenance of family groups. Some baskets and bags are so tightly woven that they can carry honey or liquids. Bags are generally collapsible and sometimes, expandable. They are mainly used for carrying food and sometimes babies. Bags are made from bush string, cordyline and knotted grass stalks. String bags are also used to sift seeds.
Looped or twined fibre nets are used to catch kangaroos and emus, as well as ducks, fish and eels. In central Arnhem Land, men use hinged nets to scoop up the fish. In Tasmania, mollusc carry baskets made from twined bark fibres are used for collecting oysters, mussels and other shellfish. Aboriginal women use swamp reeds, native flax, sedge grasses, water vine and sea grasses to make baskets.
Most fibrework is made from coiling, twining and looping. In South Australia, the Ngarrindjeri people of the Murray River and Coorong regions never lost their basic fibre techniques despite their experiences of colonisation. The coiling of rushes into baskets was then passed onto women of Goulbourn and Croker Islands through missionary activities. This technique soon spread across Arnhem Land.
In Arnhem Land, fibrework and containers is associated very closely with major Dreaming stories. Weaving baskets and bags helps define the knowledge and status of women in communities as women have to earn the right to that knowledge.
In south-eastern coastal communities, Aboriginal women's basket work has benefited from a significant amount of knowledge being sourced, collected and passed back to them. Highly regarded basket makers, women from Lake Tyers, Victoria, and the Coorang, South Australia, have demonstrated methods of collecting materials and different weaving techniques which they shared with the women of the south-eastern coast of New South Wales. Basket making for the south coastal women revives and continues a tradition of women's work.

Watercraft and canoes

Photograph of Ten Canoes by Rolf deHeerRolf de Heer, Still from 'Ten Canoes', 2006. Courtesy of Vertigo Productions - external site and the National Film and Sound Archive - external site.
Early watercraft were relatively fragile, often made from bark and usually left to rot when their use was finished. Canoes provided an easy means of travelling through the lagoons and into reed beds, providing a plentiful supply of fish, eels and birds' eggs. A river was a means of navigation and Aborigines used canoes and rafts to travel extensively through their lands.
The film Ten Canoes - external site, the first feature-length movie in an Australian Indigenous language, tells the story of ten men going onto the swamp in canoes to hunt the eggs of Gumang, the magpie goose. The bark canoes - external site and artefacts used in the film were based on historical Donald Thomson photographs, loaned from Bula'bula Arts - external site.
Tied bark canoes were used along the south-east coast of Australia. 'Canoe trees - external site' are relatively common within the Murray-Darling Basin. The clearly visible canoe scars seen on the trees result from the removal of a large slab of bark, destined for shaping as a crude canoe. A Wurundjeri canoe from the Melbourne region survives and is held by the Museum of Victoria - external site.
Three types of rope have been used to tie the canoe into shape; two of these are handmade, but the third is machine-made European twine. Most striking are the three metal straps (taken from a wooden barrel) that maintain the canoe's shape.
Museum Victoria, Bark canoe - external site
Galiliwa Nunggarrgalug getting turtle eggs on the beach at Almalamig Point, Malagayangu, near Numbulwar at the west coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.Ludo Kuipers, Galiliwa Nunggarrgalug getting turtle eggs on the beach at Almalamig Point, Malagayangu, near Numbulwar at the west coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, 1995. Courtesy of OzOutback Internet Services. - external site

Bush food implements

Carrying dishes and digging sticks were important tools used in food gathering.
Most Aboriginal communities harvested seeds of native millet, which only grows in the summer months. Some groups overcame the problem by gathering grass seeds while they were green and stacking them in heaps until they ripened. Seed-grinding stones were larger and flatter than stones used to grind other plants.
Along the Murray, from the river red gums along the river banks, Aboriginal people could use the bark for making buckets or coolamons of paperbark stitched together and which carried food and water. From the plentiful sheoaks of Maribyrnong - external site came the useful hard wood which Aboriginal people used for making implements such as digging sticks.


The design and technology of shelters differed according to differing seasons and climates. Ceremonial function and family grouping size also effect the diversity of Australian shelters.
Photograph of Meriam house in the Torres Strait IslandsMeriam house of the Torres Strait Islands. Courtesy of Queensland Museum - external site and Aboriginal Environments Research Centre - external site.
On the Atherton Tablelands, shelters, or wiltjas, were made from pliable cane or branches lashed together. The covering was of grass, leaves or bark. In the Torres Strait Islands, houses were a distinctive 'beehive shape' constructed of thatched grass over a framework of bamboo poles lashed together.
In Arnhem Land, shelters ranged from simple peg-supported paperbark windbreaks used in the dry season, to poles that supported sheets of stringybark. Shelters also included raised platforms to protect from heavy rains and flooding.
In southern Australia, materials and shapes of shelters recorded by Europeans varied from a whalebone hut on the shores of Encounter Bay, South Australia in 1847 through stone shelters in western Victoria to 'complex house structure with several interconnecting spaces constructed of sheets of rigid bark and poles' at Corranderrk in 1878.

Trade in material culture and technology

Many of these items of material culture were traded from one location to another across the continent and down to Tasmania. Trade was vital to Aboriginal existence in some areas as it improved the quality of life for family groups. Stones, ochres, tools, ceremonial items and other resources not normally available in one area could be obtained through trade in another.
Trading routes followed permanent waterholes, and goods were traded over long distances. From the north came sea shells, from the south came grinding stones and ochre, and from the east and north-east came shields, axeheads, boomerangs and spears.

Australian Woomera

Recently, I have been rewriting some articles on primitive weapons to include the tools etc. of the Australian Aboriginals. The Woomera or spear thrower in Oz comes in many shapes and styles. In my research, I found that the woomera is named after the wing of the fruit bat or flying fox due, to the prominent hook on the end. My favorite ones are the woomeras from western Australia, basically the Swiss army knife of spear throwers.

Records show that the implement began to be used about 5000 years ago. It is still used today in some remote areas of Australia. Like spears and boomerangs, woomeras were traditionally used only by men. Some woomeras, especially those used in the central and western Australian deserts, were multi-purpose tools.

Often shaped like long narrow bowls, they could be used for carrying water-soaked vegetable matter (which would not spill and could later be sucked for its moisture) as well as small food items such as little lizards or seeds. Many woomeras had a sharp stone cutting edge attached to the end of the handle with black gum from the triodia plant. This sharp tool had many uses, such as cutting up game or other food and wood. It is supposed that the woomera could be used as a shield for protection against spears and boomerangs.

See you on the trail!


Monday, February 22, 2016

Mitchell Werbell III

Back in 1975 when I was still a young pup of 17, I use to get a gear catalog from a new company called Brigade Quartermaster. In fact, I bought my 1st large capacity backpack from them. It was a madden mountaineering pack, in light blue...Later on I found out that this company Brigade QM was founded by Mitchell Livingston WerBell III, of SIONICS fame and is also the founder of the Mercenary school in Georgia. I credit Mitch for guiding me toward becoming an Airborne Infantryman and working as a PMC or "Private Military Contractor" in later years. His exploits are legendary, and Have always interested me.

See you on the trail!


Mitchell Livingston WerBell III, (1918–1983), was an OSS operative, mercenary, paramilitary trainer, firearms engineer, and arms dealer.
Early life and OSS service:
Werbell was born in Philadelphia, the son of a Czarist cavalry officer in the Imperial Army of Russia. In 1942 WerBell joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and served in China, Burma, and French Indochina. As a guerrilla operative during World War II, he carried out a secret mission for the OSS under the command of Paul Helliwell in China with E. Howard Hunt, Lucien Conein, John K. Singlaub and Ray Cline. They were paid with five-pound sacks of opium. Following World War II, WerBell briefly worked as the director of advertising and public relations for Rich's, a department store in Atlanta, Georgia; he left after a year to open his own PR firm.

After WerBell closed his PR Firm to design suppressors (commonly known as "silencers", a term which is a misnomer for firearms, he incorporated SIONICS to design suppressors for the M16 rifle. The name was an acronym for "Studies In the Operational Negation of Insurgents and Counter-Subversion". Through SIONICS he developed a low cost, efficient suppressor for machine guns.

In 1967 he partnered with Gordon B. Ingram inventor of the MAC-10 submachine gun. They added WerBell's suppressor to Ingram's machinegun and attempted to market it to the U.S. military as "Whispering Death" for use in the Vietnam War. WerBell is credited with over 25 different suppressor designs and the "WerBell Relief Valve, a mechanism designed for machinegun suppressors. WerBell's modular designs and use of exotic materials such as titanium in sound suppressors have an impact on their design to the present day.

SIONICS was absorbed by the company MAC (Military Armament Corporation) and later called Cobray where WerBell developed a training center for counterterrorism in the 1970s. The courses lasted 11 weeks and students included members of the military, high-risk executives, CIA agents, and private individuals. WerBell concurrently ran Defense Systems International, an arms brokerage firm.

Mercenary activities:
In the 1950s, WerBell served as a security advisor to Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and to the Batista regime in Cuba. In 1966 WerBell helped plan an invasion of Haiti by Cuban and Haitian exiles against "Papa Doc" François Duvalier called Project Nassau (but internally referred to as Operation Istanbul). The mission, which (according to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Special Subcommittee on Investigations of the House Commerce Committee) was financially subsidized, and to be filmed by CBS news, was aborted when the participants were arrested by the FBI. WerBell was released without being charged.

In 1972 WerBell was approached by the Abaco Independence Movement (AIM) from the Abaco Islands, a region of the Bahamas, who were worried about the direction the Bahamas were taking and were considering other options, such as independence or remaining a separate Commonwealth nation under the Crown in case of the Bahamas gaining independence (which they did in 1973). AIM was funded by the Phoenix Foundation, a group which aims to help build truly free micronations. The AIM collapsed into internal bickering before a coup by Werbell could be carried out.
In 1973 WerBell was asked to assist with a coup d'état against Omar Torrijos of Panama, according to CIA documents released in 1993. WerBell sought clearance from the CIA which denied getting involved in coups. The plan was not implemented, though Torrijos died in a plane crash five years later.

In a 1979 20/20 interview WerBell claimed that Coca-Cola had hired him for $1 million to take care of kidnapping threats against its Argentine executives during an urban terrorist wave in 1973. Coca-Cola later denied the claim.

Later in life WerBell claimed he was a retired Lieutenant General in the Royal Free Afghan Army or sometimes an Afghan Defense Minister after supplying Afghanistan with large weapons contracts and training. WerBell claimed he was given the billet of Major General in the US Army to allow him to travel freely in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War to demonstrate and sell his silenced submachineguns and sound suppressors. This has been confirmed by Major General John Singlaub and Lt Col. William Mozey.

Other exploits:
Other exploits include an alleged, but unsubstantiated presence at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated; spearheading the 1965 Invasion of the Dominican Republic; being tried and acquitted on charges of conspiracy to marijuana smuggling reportedly in association with Gerry Patrick Hemming and with the acquiescence of Lucien Conein; and providing physical security services and training for Lyndon LaRouche security forces.
In 1988, Sheriff Sherman Block of Los Angeles announced that Hustler publisher Larry Flynt wrote WerBell a $1 million check in 1983 to kill Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Walter Annenberg, and Frank Sinatra. Los Angeles television station KNBC displayed a photocopy of the check. WerBell died in Los Angeles a month after receiving the check.

Death and courtroom poisoning claim:

In the 1989 Cotton Club murder case of Roy Radin, Arthur Michael Pascal, then owner of a Beverly Hills security firm, testified that prosecution witness William Rider, Flynt's former brother in law and private security agent, "told him of poisoning soldier of fortune Mitchell WerBell III in 1983 in order to take over WerBell's counterterrorist school based in Atlanta. Pascal said that Rider and... Flynt, poured four to six ounces of a digoxin, a powerful heart relaxant, into WerBell's drink during a cocktail party at Flynt's Los Angeles mansion. WerBell, 65, a security consultant for Flynt... died of a heart attack at UCLA Medical Center a few days later." Flynt and his attorney, Alan Isaacman, were in Bangkok and "unavailable for comment, according to a Hustler magazine spokeswoman". "Isaacman characterized an earlier Rider claim of a Flynt-paid murder contract as 'fantasy'." Rider passed a polygraph test regarding "possible involvement in homicides," according to courtroom testimony. Pascal was later arraigned on a murder charge due to tapes Rider provided investigators.

161 Squadron RAF WW2

No 161 Squadron is one of my favorite units in WW2, These pilots took to the air and dropped MI6 and OSS , or Jedburgs behind enemy lines, armed with nothing more than a Webley pistol. They were pretty brave dudes. The unit  was formed as a day bomber unit on 1 June 1918, but was disbanded on 4 July 1918 to provide personnel for other units.

On 15 February 1942, No.161 reformed at New market from pilots and ground crews from the No 138 Squadron and the King's Flight. It joined with No 138 in dropping supplies and agents over occupied Europe and took over the landing and pick-up operations for which it used Lysanders, Havocs and Hudsons. Only a few sorties were flown with the Havoc, and many of these were as convoy escorts under the control of Fighter or Coastal Command. Halifaxes were received in November 1942 and in September 1944, it began using Stirlings with which it continued it's covert tasks until on the 2 June 1945 the squadron disbanded.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chaga - Inonotus obliquus

 In Maine at the Jack Mouintain Bushcraft school, we enjoy collecting chaga and processing it for tea and Kombucha. Each wilderness we embark on with students includes training and education on the local edible & medicinal plants of the area. Many of our students in the past have tried chaga and enjoyed it. One student, I remember fasted and consumed only chaga and water for several days. He managed to maintain his strength and energy levels on this "diet". Although there is a lot of conflicting information about how to brew chaga Tea, I have found that simply steeping the chaga for 6 to 8 hours yields the best results. At home you can also use your crock pot and brew  12 cups of tea over night from 1/4 cup of chaga. And additionally, I have found that you can reuse the chaga a 2nd time.

If you live in birch country head out to the woods and look for some chaga, it is fun to search for and is great for your health.

CHAGA - Inonotus obliquus
Inonotus obliquus, commonly known as chaga mushroom (a Latinisation of the Russian term 'чага'), is a fungus in the family Hymenochaetaceae. 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 sclerotia or 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. I. 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; medical evidence is emerging.

Alternative names:
The name chaga (/ˈtʃɑːɡɑː/ ) comes from the Russian word of the mushroom (anglicized from чага), which in turn is purportedly derived from the word for the fungus in Komi-Permyak, the language of the indigenous peoples in the Kama River Basin, west of the Ural Mountains. It is also known as the clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass and birch canker polypore.
In Norwegian, the name is kreftkjuke' which literally translates as "cancer polypore", referring to the fungus' appearance or to its alleged medicinal properties. In Finnish, the name is pakurikääpä, combined from pahkura and kääpä translating as "wart polypore".

In England and Canada, it is known as the sterile conk trunk rot of birch, which refers to the fruiting bodies growing under the outer layers of wood surrounding the sterile conk once the tree is dead, to spread the spores. In France, it is called the carie blanche spongieuse de bouleau (spongy white birch tree rot), and in Germany it is known as Schiefer Schillerporling (oblique Inonotus). The Dutch name is berkenweerschijnzwam (birch glow mushroom).

Medicinal research:
Chaga has been used as a folk remedy in Russia and other North-European countries for centuries and it featured in Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's 1967 novel Cancer Ward.
Research on the health effects of I. obliquus has shown that extracts of it can hamper the growth and proliferation of tumors as well as have positive effects on the immune system.

Though, according to the Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, "no clinical trials have been conducted to assess chaga's safety and efficacy for disease prevention or for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes".Laboratory studies on extract of chaga mushroom has indicated possible future potential in cancer therapy, as an antioxidant, in immunotherapy, and as an anti-inflammatory.

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 on potato dextrose agar and other simulated mediums resulted in a reduced and markedly different production of bioactive metabolites. Secondary metabolites were either absent or present in very different ratios, and in general showed significantly less potency in submerged cultures of 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 claim.

Chaga is traditionally grated into a fine powder and used to brew a beverage resembling coffee or tea. For medicinal use, an extraction process is needed to make at least some of the bio-active components bioavailable.

These bio-actives are found in the mostly indigestible chitin cell walls of the chaga. Humans lack the enzyme chitinase, so cannot fully digest raw mushrooms or their derivatives, and the digestive process works too fast for the stomach acid to take effect. Scientific studies and research are in general also based on highly concentrated extracts, and traditional Russian usage is also based on a form of hot-water extraction (by preparing zavarka).Currently, three extraction processes are used, each with a different outcome.

Hot water extraction is the most common and the cheapest method. Ideally it should be performed under very high pressure (480 psi / 4.0 MPa); boiling will over time cause the bioactive beta-glucans to disintegrate, this is neutralized by performing this phase of the extraction process under high pressure.

All water-soluble components will be present in the resulting extract. Hot water extraction performed without high pressure can be compared to a traditional tea-making process; the therapeutic potential will be limited due to the damage caused by the high temperature, as described above. Water-insoluble components, such as phytosterols, betulinic acid and betulin, will be absent in a hot water extract. Several extraction rounds combined with modern pharmaceutical techniques such as alcohol precipitation as a final step can result in high levels of polysaccharides, up to almost 60%. The ß-D-glucans, the bio-active part of these polysaccharides, might add up to ±35% in a very pure extract. Polyphenolic components are water-solubles and will also be present.

Ethanol or methanol extraction isolates the water-insoluble components, betulinic acid, betulin and the phytosterols. This extraction process is in general used as a second step after hot-water extraction, since ethanol alone will not break down chitin effectively - heat is essential.

Fermentation is the most time-consuming, so is the most expensive; this method is not used very often. Because fermentation methods are not standardized (many types of bacteria and fungi can be used in the process), the outcome is also not standardized.

Combining the outcome of hot water and ethanol extraction yields a dual extract with all therapeutically interesting bioactives present in a bioavailable form. Cheap, mass-produced extracts are in general hot water, low percentage (4-20%) polysaccharide extracts with limited therapeutic value. The information on the supplements' label will usually reveal inclusion or exclusion of components. However, the majority of mushroom dietary supplements that are sold are non-extracted, being the cheapest option.To achieve at least some therapeutic effects the consumer has to make a tea from it.