Inonotus obliquus, commonly known as Chaga mushroom, is a kind of fungus in the family Hymenochaetaceae. It is mainly parasitic on birch, rarely other trees, causing a white rot in the affected wood. Chaga is not only an edible mushroom but also rich in medicinal properties. Inonotus obliquus grows on birch forests in Russia, Korea, Eastern Europe, Canada, and in North and Auvergne regions of the Northern United States (in the mountains in North Carolina for instance).
The hymenophore (the covering part) has an irregular shape and the appearance of burnt charcoal. This is not the fruit body of the fungus, but a large mass of mycelium, most colored because of the presence of a massive amount of melanin. It is basically sterile and low in medicinal value. The valuable part can be found in the form of a brown fruiting body. It is this fruit body that is edible and richly medicinal.
Chaga is considered as the top medicinal mushroom worthy to have its place in folk medicine in Russia and Eastern Europe. It has high levels of betulin and betulinic acid. It is the top medical mushroom in term of anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. Chaga mushroom strengthens the immune system to fight almost all pathogenic attacks in addition to preventing development of tumor, asthma and allergies. It would also be a regenerator of the liver and the digestive system, which makes it a powerful antiaging and anti-diabetic. But let’s focus on its anti-cancer properties.
Chaga and Cancer Treatment
Several studies have shown that Chaga helps fight cancer and to detoxify the body of radioactive materials emitted during chemotherapy and radiation therapy. That is, it is ideal for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
This miraculous fungus has been used since the 16th century in Russia and Eastern Europe to treat many cancers, gastritis, ulcers and tuberculosis. In 1958, the first studies in Russia and Finland have shown that Chaga could have positive effects on cancers of the liver, prostate, stomach, colon, lung, bladder, and breast.
Many studies have been made ever since and all researches come to the same conclusion: chaga is a natural cancer treatment. The Chaga can be used as a natural anti-cancer ingredient in food or as medicine. It contains polysaccharides which contribute to the prevention of degenerative types of diseases and in the regulation of immune function. As one researcher states, It is a gift of the gods.
Modern research continues to shed more light on the mushroom. In 2005, Chaga has even been evaluated for its potential to protect against oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes. The same study has found that Chaga contains the following virtues:
- Antihypertensive, which lower blood pressure
- Restorative, it prevents and restores cellular damage
- Antioxidant, due to the melanin found in his black crust
- Antidiabetic, it helps stabilize and control blood glucose levels
- Anti-allergic, boosting the immune system, chaga prevent allergic reaction
- antiseptic, the mushroom reduces the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction.
- Park YM et all., In vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of the methanol extract of Inonotus obliquus, in J Ethnopharmacol 101 (1-3): 120–8. (2005)
- WOLFE, David (2012). Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms. Berkeley, California : North Atlantic Books.
- Mizuno T. Antitumor and hypoglycemic activities of polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of Inonotus obliquus. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 1 (1): 301–316.