Latin: Inonotus obliquus
WHAT IT DOES: Chaga mushroom has a bitter, coffee-like flavor. It stimulates the immune system and draws the life force out of tumors.
RATING: Silver, due to high concentration of nutrients
SAFETY ISSUES: None known
• 1:5 tincture: 40-60 drops two to three times per day
• Tea: dissolve one teaspoon dried mushroom in one cup of water several times per day
Chaga mushroom grows on birch trees in the colder northern climates. There have been150 species of medicinal mushrooms found to inhibit the growth of different kinds of tumors, especially cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and lungs (Wasser et al., 1999), but Chaga seems to stand out from the rest. I learned about this mushroom from herbalist David Winston, who told me it has been used traditionally to treat different forms of cancer in Siberia, Canada, Scandinavia, the United States and Russia.
Chaga is a fungal parasite which draws its nutrients out of living trees, rather than from the ground. Fungi digest food outside their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment, breaking down organic matter into a form the fungus can then absorb. A look at the research on Chaga shows a similar pattern with respect to its effect on tumors.
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. Currently, chaga is only available from Herbalist & Alchemist.
• Studies done in Poland have demonstrated Chaga’s inhibiting effects on tumor growth (Rzymowska, 1998).
• 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 (Noda et al. 1997).
• Once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors (Fulda et al., 1997).