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, N . C . mountains and Canada. Because the 16th century Chaga has been used 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”) comes from the Russian word for mushroom (czaga) which comes from the phrase for fungus. In Norway Chaga (kreftkjuke’) translates to “cancer polypore” in reference to the fungal appearance and alleged medicinal properties.
Utilization of Ganoderma Lucidum Extract in Chinese medicine goes back 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 for the west from the Urai Mountains and Baltic parts 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 dietary supplements,” that mushrooms may be useful as nutraceuticals — food or food products that provide health insurance and medical benefits. “These compounds called ‘mushroom nutriceuticals’ exhibit either medicinal or tonic qualities and possess immense potential as nutritional supplements… ” writes ISMS.
Research also suggests mushrooms, cultivated molds, chaga mushroom 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 make at the very least a number of the active components bioavailable, which is the extent a nutrient (or medication) may be used by the body.
Like all natural materials, whole mushrooms have a lot of variability in quality and benefit. Single chemicals can have intense responses and with that, uncomfortable side effects.
“Nutriceuticals, which are extracted products, occupy a middle ground between these extremes and possess shown to be very beneficial. However, to acquire a good quality and trustworthy item is of paramount importance.” (ISM).
Potential Health And Fitness Benefits of Chaga
Researchers in Japan and China have studied anticancer properties from the polysaccharides found in some mushrooms, including Chaga, and located the results similar to chemotherapy and radiation, only without negative effects. Among the meepqi beneficial properties in chaga mushroom extract, the polysaccharides have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties which can 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 as well as offer utilization in hypertension and diabetes. The Russian journal Vestnik Dermatologii i Venerologii reported in 1973 about the benefits of Chaga extract for psoriasis.