A summary of modern medicinal research on the traditional European medicinal mushroom ‘Siberian Chaga’ (inonotus obliquus):
Chaga mushroom appears as a black mass on birch trees, dead or alive. Occasionally, it may also be seen growing on hornbeam, ash, elm, or beech.
In Europe and Asia, Chaga has been used for centuries to treat cancers of the heart and liver, digestive ailments, and tuberculosis.
The black “skin” was removed and the lighter inside boiled as tea. Being such a compact natural medicine made it a valuable, portable remedy for healers of old.
Modern scientific research has focused on Chaga’s anti-cancer properties. In Russia, it has been approved to treat cancers of the breasts, cervix, stomach, and lungs, since 1955.
One modern study from 1998 showed that Chaga mushroom extract did in fact inhibit growth of cervical cancer cell lines under lab conditions. Another study from1995 reported that an isolate of the active compound betulin first inhibited growth of melanoma cells in a lab, and then killed them.
Further research has confirmed that some of the active compounds of Chaga do decrease cancer cell growth.
The black color of Chaga is caused by betulin, a medicinally active compound that makes up 30% of the skin. The lighter inside of the mushroom is rich in fungal lanostanes. So Chaga tea may be more effective if made with the whole mushroom, including the skin.
Robin’s Chaga, makes Chaga tea from the whole mushroom.
Research on Chaga has also reported potent anti-viral properties. Two studies on influenza virus and HIV were published with positive results in 1996. Chaga probably works on viruses indirectly by enhancing the human immune system as indicated by two papers published in 2002 and 2005. Historical use of Chaga as an anti-inflammatory may be attributed to that same mechanism.
An alcohol extraction of Chaga was reported to lower elevated blood sugar levels. Chaga also contains powerful antioxidants.
Robin’s Chaga makes alcohol extract with the Chaga mushroom.