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. Because 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 is derived from the term for fungus. In Norway Chaga (kreftkjuke’) means “cancer polypore” in reference to the fungal appearance and alleged medicinal properties.
Use of Ganoderma Lucidum Extract in Chinese medicine extends back thousands of years where locals within the mountain region of Siberia drank Chaga tea daily, inhaled Chaga and used it topically (on the skin). With time its popularity spread to the west from the Urai Mountains and Baltic regions 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 nutritional supplements,” that mushrooms could be useful as nutraceuticals — food or food products that provide health insurance and medical benefits. “These compounds called ‘mushroom nutriceuticals’ exhibit either medicinal and/or tonic qualities and possess immense potential as health supplements… ” writes ISMS.
Research also suggests mushrooms, cultivated molds, Ganoderma Lucidum 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 help make a minimum of some of the active components bioavailable, the extent a nutrient (or medication) may be used from the body.
Just like all natural materials, whole mushrooms have a great deal 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 also have proven to be very beneficial. However, to have a high 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 of the polysaccharides present in some mushrooms, including Chaga, and discovered the consequences similar to chemotherapy and radiation, only without side effects. Amongst the meepqi beneficial properties in Ganoderma Lucidum Extract, the polysaccharides have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties which may stimulate the body 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 along with 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.