Referred to as “Gift from God” or even 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, N . C . 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 comes from the term for fungus. In Norway Chaga (kreftkjuke’) translates to “cancer polypore” in reference to its fungal appearance and alleged medicinal properties.
Use of reishi spore oil in Chinese medicine extends back many thousands of years where locals in the mountain region of Siberia drank Chaga tea daily, inhaled Chaga and tried it topically (on the skin). With time its popularity spread to the west from the Urai Mountains and Baltic parts of Eastern Europe.
Medicinal Mushrooms to advertise Health
The International Society for Mushroom Science (ISMS) suggest in their online article, “Products of medicinal mushrooms as a good source of health supplements,” that mushrooms may be useful as nutraceuticals — food or food items that provide health insurance and medical benefits. “These compounds called ‘mushroom nutriceuticals’ exhibit either medicinal and/or tonic qualities and have immense potential as health supplements… ” writes ISMS.
Research also suggests mushrooms, cultivated molds, Cordyceps Sinensis Extract and lichens may have antiviral, antimicrobial, anticancer, antihyperglycemic, cardioprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Medicinal mushrooms are classified into two species: edible or extracted. Chaga is surely an extracted species. The extraction process is essential to make at the very least a few of the active components bioavailable, the extent a nutrient (or medication) can be utilized through the body.
Like all natural materials, whole mushrooms have significant amounts of variability in quality and benefit. Single chemicals might have intense responses and with that, negative effects.
“Nutriceuticals, that are extracted products, occupy a middle ground between these extremes and also have shown to be very useful. However, to have a top quality and trustworthy item is of paramount importance.” (ISM).
Potential Health Advantages of Chaga
Researchers in Japan and China have studied anticancer properties of the polysaccharides seen in some mushrooms, including Chaga, and discovered the results comparable to chemotherapy and radiation, only without side effects. One of the meepqi beneficial properties in Ganoderma Lucidum Extract, the polysaccharides have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties which can stimulate our bodies to produce 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 as well as 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.