Called the “Gift from God” or perhaps the “King of Herbs,” the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) has been respected for hundreds of years throughout Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, Northern United States, North Carolina mountains and Canada. Since the 16th century Chaga has been utilized in folk and botanical medicine throughout Eastern Europe. A birch fungus, Chaga grows on living trunks of mature birch trees in cold climates.
The name Chaga (pronounced “cha-ga”) originates from the Russian word for mushroom (czaga) which is derived from the term for fungus. In Norway Chaga (kreftkjuke’) results in “cancer polypore” in reference to the fungal appearance and alleged medicinal properties.
Use of reishi spore powder in Chinese medicine extends back many thousands of years where locals within the mountain region of Siberia drank Chaga tea daily, inhaled Chaga and tried it topically (on the skin). With time its popularity spread towards the west from the Urai Mountains and Baltic regions of Eastern Europe.
Medicinal Mushrooms to market Health
The International Society for Mushroom Science (ISMS) suggest in their online article, “Products of medicinal mushrooms as a good source of nutritional supplements,” that mushrooms may be useful as nutraceuticals — food or food products that provide health and medical benefits. “These compounds called ‘mushroom nutriceuticals’ exhibit either medicinal and tonic qualities and possess immense potential as nutritional supplements… ” writes ISMS.
Research also suggests mushrooms, cultivated molds, Cordyceps Sinensis Extract and lichens might have antiviral, antimicrobial, anticancer, antihyperglycemic, cardioprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Medicinal mushrooms are classified into two species: edible or extracted. Chaga is an extracted species. The extraction process is necessary to create a minimum of some of the active components bioavailable, which is the extent a nutrient (or medication) may be used by the body.
Like several natural materials, whole mushrooms have a lot of variability in quality and benefit. Single chemicals can have intense responses along with that, negative effects.
“Nutriceuticals, which are extracted products, occupy a middle ground between these extremes and have proven to be very helpful. However, to acquire a high quality and trustworthy item is of paramount importance.” (ISM).
Potential Health Benefits of Chaga
Researchers in Japan and China have studied anticancer properties in the polysaccharides found in some mushrooms, including Chaga, and discovered the effects comparable to chemotherapy and radiation, only without unwanted effects. Amongst the meepqi beneficial properties in Cordyceps Sinensis Extract, the polysaccharides have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties which might stimulate your body to create natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells fight infections and battle tumor growth.
In 1958 researchers in Finland and Russia found Chaga may offer anticancer benefits for breast, liver uterine and gastric cancers in addition to offer utilization in hypertension and diabetes. The Russian journal Vestnik Dermatologii i Venerologii reported in 1973 about some great benefits of Chaga extract for psoriasis.