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Medicinal Mushrooms

Chaga Mushroom

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When Nobel Laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote about the amazing beneficial properties of the Chaga mushroom in his book Cancer Ward, he quite literally put this amazing herbal mushroom on the medicinal map where it has occupied a very special and exalted space since then. Of course, the benefits of the Chaga mushroom have been well known since time immemorial and it has been considered a very special herb especially in alternative medicine.

From treating cancer to tuberculosis, the Chaga has been credited with many more important cures and has been quite a discovery for the Western world. What is the Chaga mushroom and where can you find it. More importantly, what are its uses limited to and how much can it help you in treating different ailments? Read on to find out.

What is the Chaga mushroom?

The Chaga mushroom doesn’t resemble conventional mushrooms. It is a parasitic fungus that grows on birch trees and resembles a lump of burnt charcoal. The Chaga eventually causes the death of the host tree. The Chaga is solid, black and crumbly and is very well known in folk medicine. In the US, the Chaga is not considered as a medicine but rather as a food with a GRAS(Generally Rated As Safe) FDA rating. Nevertheless, there is greater understanding about the Chaga today than there was earlier and therefore, it’s being discovered as one of the best options for many diseases.

Origins and properties

The Chaga is typically found in the birch forests of Russia, Eastern and Northern Europe and Korea. It is also found in North Carolina in the US and in Canada. Chaga is an extremely important anti-oxidant, which is also known for its anti-cancer, anti- inflammatory, anti-ulcer and pain relieving properties. This is however, just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of ways in which Chaga is known to alleviate the symptoms of many diseases and help people live a better and healthier life.

Benefits

Chaga has numerous benefits and some of them have been in use since the 16th century. While it has become increasingly popular for its effects on cancer, Chaga has various other uses as well. Here’s a look at the different benefits that the Chaga mushroom offers:

  • Anti-cancer – For years, people in folk medicine have been using the Chaga to cure cancer and while its efficacy is still being debated, there is also research being done to corroborate the findings. The Chaga mushroom is known to be effective in the case of liver cancer, gastric cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer. It is also advised that the chaga be used along with conventional cancer treatments to make the immune system stronger and have reduced side effects. Chaga contains betulinic acid which is the core ingredient that stops cancer and prevents tumors from forming.
  • Antioxidant – We all know about the importance of antioxidants in our lives. It might amaze you to learn that Chaga has the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of any natural food! In fact it is said to be better than even Acai berries or Chinese wolfberries.
  • Stronger immune system - Consuming Chaga mushrooms regularly can make your immune system stronger and your body won’t be susceptible to various diseases. Typically, Chaga can be consumed as a tea and if this habit is continued over a period, you can find your general health to improve considerably.
  • Anti-diabetic – Studies have shown that the Chaga mushroom is also useful to lower the levels of blood sugar in diabetic mice. The Chaga extract has anti-hyperglycemic properties although it has not yet been verified in human subjects.

Research

The benefits of Chaga that we have read so far are still just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more research needs to be conducted on Chaga to understand just how much this mushroom can help us medicinally. Unfortunately, most of the research that has been done is still in the in-vitro stage and that is not enough basis for conclusions. Nevertheless, the need for Chaga has indeed become stronger and it’s one of nature’s most wonderful bounties that has indeed prompted researchers to look into its various properties more deeply.

Harvesting the Chaga

The Chaga mushrooms do not resemble conventional mushrooms and appear like a lump of charcoal adhering on the bark of birch trees. The fact is that Chaga is a parasitic fungus and can stay on a tree for sometimes even more than 15 years, taking off all the nutrients from the tree, and causing its death eventually. When the Chaga is ready to be harvested, the outer surface bulges out and looks like coal. As you continue digging into the Chaga, the appearance, color and texture begin to resemble that of cork. Furthermore, these mushrooms are very dry.

Consumption

The Chaga mushroom can be consumed as tea, which is quite like regular tea or coffee. The mushroom can be crumbled and brewed for many hours or days to ensure that all the active ingredients are extracted. The brewed concoction could either be boiled or left as is. If all this sounds rather tedious, a simpler and more convenient way to enjoy the benefits of Chaga would be to purchase its supplements.

Chaga Mushroom

References -

http://www.suite101.com/content/benefits-and-properties-of-chaga-mushroom-a139845

http://www.chagamushroom.com/

http://www.naturalnews.com/024869_Daniel_Vitalis_mushrooms_medicinal.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaga_mushroom

http://www.naturalnews.com/028344_folk_remedies_cancer.html

http://www.thebrightesthub.com/health-benefits-and-medicinal-uses-of-chaga-mushroom/

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  • Bob Cornell

    Chaga has a good ORAC (SOD) rating, but not the amount the supplement sellers want you to believe.

    You guys never wondered where those figures stem from ? Nobody ever laid eyes on a lab report I guess. The supplement sellers are all quoting Wikipedia and each other, and quite a few have no idea what they are talking about, in fact. They just want to sell their product at as high a margin as possible.

    Well, I did see lab reports. And now you can, too.

    If you follow this link (http://chagabetula.com/files/COA%2009.07.28.PDF) , you’ll download a Certificate of Analysis of a Japanese Chaga extract (capsules). It lists among other things the lab specs of SOD, the base of ORAC-ratings. The outcome is 24.000 micro-g/100 grams, nice, but below e.g. wild thyme and not remarkable at all.

    Chaga is still worthwhile though; it is an adaptogen with exceptional power to balance the immune system and to fight cancer. Check Wikipedia for background.

    In case you want to buy one of the many extracts, pay attention to this: the percentage of polysaccharides should be listed on the label, and this percentage should be at least 40% if you want value for money.

    JHS Chaga and ORIVEDA are as far as I know the only ones that offer this.

    Another thing that is worthwhile to check: the Betulin percentage. Most of the time it is not listed – the COA mentioned above shows a percentage of 0.018, so the retailers do not even include it on their label. The only extracts I know of that do list this percentage, are Mushroom Science and ORIVEDA.

    90% of extracts on the market in the US are not extracts at all – it is just mushroom powder.

    So, what is wrong with that, you wonder ?
    Well, everything.

    The active medicinal ingredients of mushrooms are locked in the cell walls. Those cell walls are made of chitin. Indigestible by the human body. An extraction process is needed (hot water, ethanol) to set those polysaccharides free. If no extraction has been used, it is not possible to determine the percentage of polysaccharides or Betulin.

    Raw mushrooms will leave the body almost undigested, too. (Sorry, raw-food aficionados!) Cooking, boiling (the longer the better – Chaga tea e.g., from raw Chaga or Chaga powder needs 4 hours at least) – it is 100% necessary.

    So, what are good extracts you wonder ?

    The capsules with powder in my opinion are the best. But check that polysaccharide and the Betulin percentage ! I already gave you a recommendation, but I think it’s good to Google yourself. You can even buy Chaga and Chaga tea and the extract-capsules on Ebay, at very affordable prices.
    Just keep what I said earlier in mind and you will get value for money and become a more healthy person with a stable immune system!

    Yep, I’m a Chaga nut…

    • Buzz Team

      Great info! Bob, Thanks so much for the insights.

    • HMT

      What do you think of North American Herb and Spice’s ChagoPower and Chagocharge tea? They use wild whole food chaga mushrooms, not commercial vat grown sources.

  • Bob Cornell

    Chaga cannot be cultivated so that is not an argument. All Chaga is ‘wild Chaga’.

    In general Siberian Chaga is considered to be far superior to N-American Chaga, simply because there is hardly any human life (complete with all its side effects like pollution, waste, industry etc) around and because of the exceptional harsh climate – according to research Chaga needs to grow very slow and uninterrupted in a very cold climate to gain maximum potential. After about 7 years it can be harvested and will have optimal healing properties.

    But again, if no extraction process is used it is pretty useless to use as a supplement. See my previous post.

    North American Herb and Spice does not use extraction, they do not list the percentage of active ingredients on the label so I would avoid it – it is expensive marketing you are paying for. The active components will not be digested by the consumer.

    For more details and background about the mushroom extraction process and why it is needed check this link:
    http://oriveda.com/promedics.html.
    For more information about medicinal mushrooms, including Chaga and their health benefits, check this resource page with lots of free downloadable pdf publications:
    http://oriveda.us.ddrecords.com/resources.php

  • Darren

    Bob, I have to correct you here – Chaga really does have a remarkable high ORACrating. You just didn’t find the right Chaga I guess.

    Check this link, http://www.oriveda.com/BrunswickChaga.pdf it will show you a lab report from the renowned Brunswick Laboratories, they tested a Chaga supplement and it turned out to have an ORACvalue of 1,467 TEunits/gram or 146,700 units/100 grams, if you want to compare it to the values mentioned at ORACVALUES.COM.

    Pretty high – top 5 material.

  • Elaine

    Chaga mushroom or ganoderma mushroom that is the question. Companies are trying to sell coffee with ganoderma making the same claim as I see on Chaga. Thoughts?

  • Kim

    @bob

    2.4 x 10^4 would = 24,000 u/g

    Right? Not 2.4 ?

  • Christopher

    If anyone is interested in a reliable seller of whole chaga mushrooms and chaga infused cosmetic products please check out my company: Michigan Mushrooms LLC http://www.michiganmushrooms.net

    We have been in the mushrooms business since 2008 and have positive lab test results for the chaga we harvest available for anyone who is interest in seeing them.

  • Bob Cornell

    @ kim

    Yep, 24,000 u – that’s what I wrote, didn’t I ?

    Another great link explaining why choosing mushroom extracts is important, do not waste your money on dried powder or bio-mass: http://supplement-facts.org/2012-6.php#.UHGVoZYsFYg

  • Alternative Krebstherapie

    Hello my family member! I want to say that this post is awesome, great written and include almost all important infos. I would like to peer extra posts like this .

  • cancerhasacure

    A great addition to this post is this article: http://oriveda.wordpress.com/chaga-the-facts/

    It really includes all known history and other data and none of the hype and assumptions. I was glad to stumble upon it and thought I’d share! Stay healthy!

  • Kristen

    Thank you for this informative article on chaga. I want to say, however, that taking any antioxidants if you already have cancer and are receiving treatment is not beneficial. This is because the antioxidant properties will help protect all the cells in your body, including the cancerous ones. Taking antioxidants while on chemotherapy can actually go against the process and help protect the cells that chemo is trying to kill.

    Chaga is great for preventing cancer, but many people do not realize that once they have cancer, they should stop taking antioxidants.

  • Harry Manly

    i have been consuming chaga tea about 8-10 oz daily for 2 years now my joint don’t hurt anymore my hearing has improved(do to the fact that the chaga got rid of the wax build up in my inner ear) my reflexes are double what they used to be my eyesight has also improved so it has great benefits but if you drink to much it makes your mind race at night when your trying to go to sleep so I would recommend drinking it in the morning unless your really trying to clean your self out so to speak I drank a half gallon in one sitting when I first started taking it and I had this black nasty slime come out of me and my ears drained it was all rather alarming but I felt much better it was amazing I had a friend who drank a gallon of the stuff in 1 day she had a dead parasite 12in long come out of her so this stuff is the real deal

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