WHAT IS CHAGA?
Inonotus obliquus, commonly known as chaga, is a fungus in the family Hymenochaetaceae. It is parasitic on birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal.
They can weigh over 30 pounds and grow in a variety of shapes up to 12 inches in diameter.
Chaga’s relationship with the birch tree is symbiotic. They help the tree remain healthy and grow. Chaga can even help a sick tree recover when inserted into the damaged tree!
CHAGA MUSHROOM BENEFITS
Slowing the aging process
Oxidative stress causes physical signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and gray hair. Exposure to sun, pollution, and other sources of damage create too many free radicals for the body to neutralize, which accelerates the aging process of the skin.
Chaga mushrooms contain many antioxidants that may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol.
Preventing and fighting cancer with chaga mushroom
A 2010 study found that chaga could slow the growth of lung, breast, and cervical cancer cells in a petri dish. The same study also found that chaga could slow the growth of tumors in mice.
A 2009 study found that triterpenes, the compounds found in chaga and some other mushrooms, cause tumor cells to self-destruct. Unlike other cancer treatments, however, chaga does not appear to harm healthy cells.
Supporting the immune system
Cytokines are the immune systems chemical messengers. They are proteins that play a vital role in stimulating white blood cells, which are the immune systems first line of defense against a range of illnesses.
Some research on mice suggests that chaga may help regulate the production of cytokines, supporting the immune system by helping cells communicate with one another. This could help fight infections, from minor colds to life-threatening illnesses.
Chaga’s role in regulating cytokine production may also help control inflammation. This points to a role for chaga in fighting autoimmune conditions and possibly some other diseases.