Called the “Gift from God” or even the “King of Herbs,” the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) has been respected for thousands 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 hails from the word for fungus. In Norway Chaga (kreftkjuke’) results in “cancer polypore” in reference to its fungal appearance and alleged medicinal properties.
Usage of Ganoderma Lucidum Extract in Chinese medicine goes back many thousands of years where locals inside the mountain region of Siberia drank Chaga tea daily, inhaled Chaga and tried it topically (on the skin). With time its popularity spread for the west from the Urai Mountains and Baltic areas of Eastern Europe.
Medicinal Mushrooms to Promote Health
The International Society for Mushroom Science (ISMS) suggest within their online article, “Products of medicinal mushrooms as an excellent source of health supplements,” that mushrooms might be useful as nutraceuticals — food or food products that provide health and medical benefits. “These compounds called ‘mushroom nutriceuticals’ exhibit either medicinal or tonic qualities and possess immense potential as health supplements… ” writes ISMS.
Research also suggests mushrooms, cultivated molds, Ganoderma Lucidum Extract and lichens could 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 make at the very least a few of the active components bioavailable, the extent a nutrient (or medication) can be used by the body.
Just like all natural materials, whole mushrooms have a great deal of variability in quality and benefit. Single chemicals may 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 beneficial. However, to obtain a top quality and trustworthy product 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 much like chemotherapy and radiation, only without unwanted effects. Among the meepqi beneficial properties in Cordyceps Sinensis Extract, the polysaccharides have shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties which might stimulate our bodies to generate 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 the advantages of Chaga extract for psoriasis.