Many Uses of Siberian Chaga Mushroom

February 12th, 2010 by Dr. Markho Rafael

Chaga grows as a black cankerous mass on birch, dead or living. It may rarely be found on beech, elm, ash or hornbeam as well.

Europeans have used chaga for centuries as a cure for digestive ailments, tuberculosis, and cancers of the liver and heart. [121]

Traditionally, the black “skin” of the mushroom was removed and the light inside boiled into tea. As a naturally compact remedy, it was conveniently portable to ancient healers.

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. [122]

A modern study conducted in 1998 showed that chaga extract does indeed inhibit the growth of cervical cancer cells under laboratory conditions. [123] Another study from the mid-90’s found the active compound betulin to cause growth inhibition and death of melanoma cells, also in lab. [124, 25]

Other research papers also confirm that some of the active compounds of chaga help retard the growth of cancer cells. [125, 126]

Although traditional healers used to peel off the black outside (probably because it looked unappetizing), the skin actually contains 30% betulin, a highly prized medicinal compound, [127] while the inside is rich in fungal lanostanes. So both parts would be valuable in preparing the tea.

The best chaga extracts are made not only from the whole mushroom fruit body but also the mycelia (”roots”), which contain more medically active protein compounds than the fruit bodies.

Other researchers have found chaga extract to be potently anti-viral. Two studies in 1996 found it to have an inhibitory effect on both influenza [127] and HIV. [128] Perhaps it does so by helping to stimulate the body’s natural immune functions, something that was first confirmed in 2002 and then again in 2005, [25, 129] and which may also help explain the historical use of chaga mushroom as an anti-inflammatory. [130]

An alcohol extraction of chaga was reported to lower elevated blood sugar levels. [131] Chaga also contains powerful antioxidants. [132, 133]

As an interesting anecdote that does not relate to human health but demonstrates the curative power of the Chaga mushroom, Paul Stamets mentions a Quebec arborist who uses a chaga poultice to cure chestnut blight. It not only cures the infection but the tree even becomes blight resistant after treatment. [134]

Note: The statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never use any herb (or mushroom) except as advised by a licensed medical practitioner.

Credit to Paul Stamets for research and source material.

Dr. Rafael has worked in the natural health field since finishing Chiropractic College in the mid-90’s. He currently specializes in medicinal fungi in partnership with Cordyceps Reishi Extracts, LLC, an NC business offering Siberian Chaga Mushroom Extract and much more. For the scientific references to this article, go to the Chaga Extract page and click on any number indicating a reference.

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