Chaga, (Inonotus obliquus), also known as cinder conk, is a fungus in Hymenochaetaceae family. It is a fungus parasitic on Birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal. The fertile fruitbody can be found very rarely as a resupinate (crustose) fungus on or near the clinker, usually appearing after the host tree is completely dead. I. obliquus grows in birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern Europe, Northern areas of the United States, in the North Carolina mountains and in Canada. The Chaga mushroom is sold as a medicinal mushroom in the health supplement industry.
Classification of Chaga Mushroom
Since the 16th century, there are records of chaga mushroom being used in folk medicine and the botanical medicine of the Eastern European countries as a remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers, and tuberculosis of the bones. In 1958, scientific studies in Finland and Russia found Chaga provided an epochal effect in breast cancer, liver cancer, uterine cancer, and gastric cancer, as well as in hypertension and diabetes. Herbalist David Winston maintains that it is the strongest anti-cancer medicinal mushroom. Russian Literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his famous book on his life in the Gulag "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich".
The antimutagenic action of the molecules found in the white part of birch bark where chaga feeds inhibits free-radical oxidation and also induces the production of interferons, which helps induce DNA repair. The substances, contained in white part of birch bark contribute to the decrease of hypoxia and to increase of the stability of organism to the oxygen deficiency, being antihypoxant correcting the metabolism of cells. The anti-cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid, a chemical isolated from birch trees, is now being studied for use as a chemotherapeutic agent. Chaga contains large amounts of betulinic acid in a form that can be ingested orally, and it also contains the full spectrum of immune-stimulating phytochemicals found in other medicinal mushrooms such as maitake mushroom and shiitake mushroom.
In 1998 there was a study in Poland that demonstrated Chaga's inhibiting effects on tumor growth. Noda and colleagues found that betulin seems to work highly selectively on tumor cells because the interior pH of tumor tissues is generally lower than that of normal tissues, and betulinic acid is only active at those lower levels. Fulda et al. found in 1997 that once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors. In 2005, I. obliquus was evaluated for its potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in human lymphocytes. The study found that the polyphenolic extract protected these cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Another study that year found the endo-polysaccharide of Chaga produced indirect anti-cancer effects via immuno-stimulation. The mycelial endo-polysaccharide of I. obliquus was identified as a candidate for use as an immune response modifier and indicate that the anti-cancer effect of endo-polysaccharide is not directly tumorcidal but rather is immuno-stimulating. It has also have anti-inflammatory properties. Saitoh Akiko published on the antimutagenic effects of Chaga in 1996, and Mizuno et al. published on the anti tumor and hypoglycemic activities of the polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of Chaga. Due to the hypoglycemic activity of polysaccarides caution may be taken by those with hypoglycemia.
Chaga showed G0 and G1 arrest and apoptosis in human hepatoma cells reported by Korean groups in January 2008.
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Herbal medicine
- ^  Tillotsen, Alan. Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus)
- ^ Rzymowska J (January 1998). "The effect of aqueous extracts from Inonotus obliquus on the mitotic index and enzyme activities". Boll Chim Farm 137 (1): 13–5. PMID 9595828.
- ^ Cui Y, Kim DS, Park KC (January 2005). "Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus". J Ethnopharmacol 96 (1-2): 79–85. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.08.037. PMID 15588653.
- ^ Kim YO, Han SB, Lee HW, Ahn HJ, Yoon YD, Jung JK, Kim HM, Shin CS (September 2005). "Immuno-stimulating effect of the endo-polysaccharide produced by submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus". Life Sci. 77 (19): 2438–56. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2005.02.023. PMID 15970296.
- ^ Kim YO, Park HW, Kim JH, Lee JY, Moon SH, Shin CS (May 2006). "Anti-cancer effect and structural characterization of endo-polysaccharide from cultivated mycelia of Inonotus obliquus". Life Sci. 79 (1): 72–80. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2005.12.047. PMID 16458328.
- ^ Park YM, Won JH, Kim YH, Choi JW, Park HJ, Lee KT (October 2005). "In vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of the methanol extract of Inonotus obliquus". J Ethnopharmacol 101 (1-3): 120–8. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.04.003. PMID 15905055.
- ^ Mizuno T. (1999). "Antitumor and hypoglycemic activities of polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of Inonotus obliquus". International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 1 (1): 301–316.
What is ORAC?
ORAC stands for "Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity". This is a scale that measures the amount of free oxygen radicals in your body that a food or supplement can absorb. Free oxygen radicals are formed in our body from normal daily living, electricity, pollution, sun exposure and various other unavoidables. These free radicals bounce around our body beating up on our cell structure and organs, making us more susceptible to diseases. Cigarette smoke is full of free radicals. Ever notice how much older smokers look?
Researchers have also discovered that consumption of foods with a high ORAC score help protect against age related memory loss.
Chaga has the highest reported ORAC score in natural foods or oils. Chaga also has Polysaccharides, that other medicinal mushrooms contain, and Triterpenes only found elsewhere in Ganoderma.
Top ORAC fruits and vegetables per 1gm
Wolf Berries 258.1
Garlic Clove 16.9
Steamed Spinach 9.3
Broccoli Flowers 9.1