Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a parasitic fungus on broad-leaved trees, mainly on birch (Betula). The mycelium of the fungus produces sterile irregularly formed conks which have the appearance of burnt charcoal. The fertile fruiting body producing spores appears only after the tree has died.
According to Wikipedia Chaga has been used in Asia during millenia to improve immunity. Since the 16th century it has been used as a folk remedy against cancer in Siberia and northern Europe, especially in Russia, Poland and Baltic countries.
Laboratory studies have been conducted to study the mushroom’s possible future potential in medicinal use, but extensive clinical trials and surveillance of long-period effects on humans have not been conducted. Especially beta-glucans in Chaga mushroom have been extensively studied.
Chaga is a strong adaptogen, a compound, generally from a herb, that balances the activity of organs without adverse reactions. It helps the organs to adapt to versatile conditions and long periods of stress. There are no observations of unbalanced effects during rather great doses of Chaga. Chaga can strengthen the immune system: it alleviates inflammations and improves resistance. Chaga has been used in Russia and China to nurse cancer, stomach diseases, autoimmune disease and also skin problems. Many of the ingredients of Chaga, such as betulin, germanium, melanin and polysaccharides, are used in modern medical science.
Chaga is a strong antioxidant. The ORAC value (52,452) of Chaga is higher than the ORAC value of any investigated Finnish berry (compare to bilberry ORAC value circa 2,400), herb or spice. ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) measures the effect of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body against free radicals, which damage cells and the skin.
Chaga contains over 215 effective compounds, many of which are biologically active:
- antioxidants: melanin, superoxide dismutase,
- esters: lactone,
- glycosides: saponin,
- nutrient minerals: antimony, barium, bismuth, caesium, calsium, germanium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, rubidium, sulfur,
- polysaccharides: beta-glucan 1.3-1.6, xylogalactoglucan,
- sterols: inotodioli,
- trace elements: boron, chromium, iron, manganese, selenium, silicon, zinc,
- triterpens: betulin, betulinic acid, lanostanoid,
- vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), D2 (ergocalciferol).