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Chaga Mushroom
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Chaga mushroom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chaga, (Inonotus obliquus), also known as cinder conk, is a fungus in Hymenochaetaceae family. It is a parasitic fungus on Birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal. The fertile fruitbody can be found very rarely as a resupinate (crustose) fungus on or near the clinker, usually appearing after the host tree is completely dead. I. obliquus grows in birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern Europe, Northern areas of the United States and in the North Carolina mountains. The Chaga mushroom is sold as a medicinal mushroom in the health supplement industry.

Medicinal use

Since the 16th century, there are records of chaga mushroom being used in folk medicine and the botanical medicine of the Eastern European countries as a remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers, and tuberculosis of the bones.[citation needed] In 1958, scientific studies in Finland and Russia found Chaga provided an epochal effect in breast cancer, liver cancer,uterine cancer, and gastric cancer, as well as in hypertension and diabetes.[citation needed] Herbalist David Winston maintains that it is the strongest anti-cancer medicinal mushroom.[1]. Russian Literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his famous book on his life in the Gulag "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich".

The antimutagenic action of the molecules found in the white part of birch bark where chaga feeds inhibits free-radical oxidation and also induces the production of interferons, which helps induce DNA repair.[citation needed] The substances, contained in white part of birch bark contribute to the decrease of hypoxia and to increase of the stability of organism to the oxygen deficiency, being antihypoxant correcting the metabolism of cells.[citation needed] The anti-cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid, a chemical isolated from birch trees, is now being studied for use as a chemotherapeutic agent. Chaga contains large amounts of betulinic acid in a form that can be ingested orally, and it also contains the full spectrum of immune-stimulating phytochemicals found in other medicinal mushrooms such as maitake mushroom and shiitake mushroom.[citation needed]


Chaga is usually grated into a fine powder and used to brew a beverage resembling coffee.


In 1998 there was a study in Poland that demonstrated Chaga's inhibiting effects on tumor growth.[2] Noda and colleagues found that betulin seems to work highly selectively on tumor cells because the interior pH of tumor tissues is generally lower than that of normal tissues, and betulinic acid is only active at those lower levels. Fulda et al. found in 1997 that once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors.[citation needed] In 2005, I. obliquus was evaluated for its potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in human lymphocytes. The study found that the polyphenolic extract protected these cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress.[3] Another study that year found the endo-polysaccharide of Chaga produced indirect anti-cancer effects via immuno-stimulation. The mycelial endo-polysaccharide of I. obliquus was identified as a candidate for use as an immune response modifier and indicate that the anti-cancer effect of endo-polysaccharide is not directly tumorcidal but rather is immuno-stimulating.[4][5] It has also have anti-inflammatory properties.[6] Saitoh Akiko published on the antimutagenic effects of Chaga in 1996, and Mizuno et al. published on the anti tumor and hypoglycemic activities of the polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of Chaga.[7]


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Chaga Mushroom

The Chaga Mushroom is also well known for its huge load of immune stimulating phytochemicals and betulin that can be consumed as a tea. Some of these compounds are derived from the birch tree and bark it consumes and concentrates in its flesh.

The chaga fungus has some of the highest amounts of anti-oxidants of any substance consumed by man. Siberian folk medicine and modern uses of a tea made from Chaga fungus include:

  • boosting the immune system

  • treating stomach diseases

  • Intestinal worms

  • Liver and heart ailments

  • Cancers including those of the breast, liver, uterine, and gastric

  • Hypertension

  • Diabetes

  • anti-tumor activity

  • The active compound inotodiol which works against influenza A and B viruses and cancer cells.

  • Activity against HIV-1

  • As an anti-inflammatory

Some experts claim the Chaga is the best anti-cancer mushroom of all.

Properties and Ingredients of Chaga include:

  • Polysaccharides that enhance the immune system; treat cancer, live, HIV virus and other bacterial and viral infections.

  • Betulinic acid to counter viral infections and tumors

  • Triterpenes to lower cholesterol, improve circulation, detoxify the liver, treat hepatitis, bronchitis, asthma, and coughs.

  • Germanium (a free-radical scavenger) to cleanse the blood, normalize blood pressure, and prevent tumors.

  • Other nucleosides, phytonutrients, minerals, and amino acids including saponin, magnesium, chromium, iron, kalium, beta-glucan, inotodiol, isoprenoid, and others.