The world of dietary supplements is huge, there are a vast variety of brands making all sorts of supplements. But you really have to be into this stuff and have fair knowledge of nutrition to know what suits you best according to your purposes, especially if you’re aiming at taking rare food supplements like these organic Chaga mushroom capsules, provided to you by the Host Defense Organic Mushrooms company that is specialized in producing rare mushroom products.
Chaga (Latin name: Inonotus Obliquus) is a superfood mushroom that’s is considered by many experts to be the “king of medicinal mushrooms”. It grows on trees and resembles a dark black woody mass, rather than a mushroom, so unless people are fully familiar with it, it’s pretty possible they don’t recognize it as a mycelium species when walking in the woods. Just like other medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, coriolusand maitake, Inonotus obliquus is classified as a “white-rot fungus”. This means it feeds off of the lignins located in the tree host, but does not always damage the basic cellulose or integral structure of the tree itself.
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Chaga most commonly grows on yellow and white birch trees, though it tends to be seen on other hardwoods like elm, alder and beech trees. However, the mushroom used for medicinal purposes comes from the birch trees only. Premium quality mushroom harvests in most cases come from birch tree forests situated in Northern Russia and Eastern Europe. While the surface of the mushroom resembles a burnt black charcoal, when split open, it has a deep clay orange, cork-like heart.
The wondrous mushroom chaga has been highly praised for its beneficial immune-stimulating properties in many parts of the world like Canada, Northern Europe, China and Russia. For hundreds, if not for a thousand years, chaga mushroom tea has had a key role in Siberian folk medicine and Russian herbalism. In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used as a special means for balancing the life force which Japanese people refer to as “ki”, the Chinese – “Chi”, while in Inidia it’s called “Prana”, as well as for preserving youth and having a strong immune response. Today it’s considered also a kidney and Shen tonic in Asian culture.
In order to make tea from chaga, you can use the tea chunks from Maine Chaga.
Nutrition facts and health benefits of Chaga
This oddly looking type of mushroom is one of the most powerful adaptogens and superfoods on Earth, exhibiting immune supporting complex polysaccharides that are quite more potent than the majority of other medicinal mushrooms. In addition to polyphenols, sterols and polysaccharides, the nutritious mushroom also contains a number of other super-healthy antioxidant components like superoxide dismutase, melanin, as well as triterpenes, inotodiol, botulin and lupeol.
Moreover, it’s also gaining recognition across the world for its anti-tumor growing abilities, thanks to specific anti-mutagenic compounds such as betulinic acid, which is found in concentrated amounts in the birch bark. Other immune-fortifying constituents found in the mushroom are beta-glucans.
Chaga is thought by many expert healers and mycologists to be one of the strongest antitumor mushrooms there is (along with coriolus a.k.a Turkey tail mushroom). Betulinic acid provokes apoptosis (PCD) via its immediate effects on the mitochondria and once inside the cancer cells is believed to cause cell destruction within the tumor. Poland researches suggest that betulinic acid is also activated by and drawn to the lower pH of the cancerous tissues. According to Christopher Hobbs, in 1995, chaga extracts have been approved as an anti-cancer drug called Befungin in Russia and have been acknowledged as successful in treating cervical, stomach, breast and lung cancers. Famous mushroom mycologist Paul Stamets writes that the betulin concentrations in chaga have shown potential in curing malignant melanoma, fully inhibiting tumor in mice, inducing apoptosis of damaged cells.
Chaga extracts are also used as an antiviral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory natural remedy. Inonotus obliquus is widely used as an immune-enhancer and a liver tonic (Stamets 2005). In 2011, a study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, noted that “Chaga fraction elicited anticancer effects which were attributed to decreased tumor cell proliferation, motility and induced morphological changes”.
In addition to a full spectrum of phytonutrients, chaga mushroom also has 29 long-chain polysaccharides, protein-bound xylogalactoglucans and beta glucan derivatives. The beta glucans in chaga, most particularly 1-3 beta glucans, help activate the immune cells or microphage defense mechanisms, working on both the surface immune system as well as stimulating stem cells deep within the bone marrow reserve. This further “supercharges” and activates a variety of other immune cells like Natural killer cells (NK cells) and T cells.
The triterpenoid constituent found in the mushroom called inotodiol, which is derived from lanostane compounds, shows promising and beneficial effects as anti-cancer agents in a study carried out in 2010. A more recent study, conducted in 2013 and entitled “Anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities of extracts and compounds from the mushroom Inonotus obliquus”, says that “Compound ergosterol, ergosterol peroxide and trametenolic acid showed anti-inflammatory activities and obvious cytotoxicity on human prostatic carcinoma cell PC3 and breast carcinoma MDA-MB-231 cell. The results obtained in this work might contribute to understanding the biological activity of mushroom I. obliquus for food and drug application.”
The chaga mushroom is a useful addiotion to chemotherapy treatments. Some medicinal super-mushrooms like chaga and reishi, can be significantly supportive adjuncts to radiation and chemo therapies. Chaga’s sterol trametenolic acid and triterpene lupeol not only show antitumor and antiviral activity, but also chemo-protective properties that might be helpful during chemotherapy treatments. Furthermore, the betulin that is found in the mushroom tends to help detoxify the liver and protect against the potentially damaging aftermath of chemo chemicals or radiation. Plus, the considerable amount of antioxidants, including melanin, are very helpful for reviving healthy immune responses.
The melanin and beta glucans that are found present in chaga, are great for the skin. Melanin is a phenolic pigment and strong antioxidant found in the outer layer of chaga and is the main element responsible for its uncommon color. Chaga is one of the best melanin sources known in any herb or food. The mushroom’s melanin has a powerful DNA protective effect on the body. This constituent also makes up the main pigment in human skin, the pigment-bearing neurons within the brain stem and the eye retina. Natural melanin supplementation via this mushroom can shield the skin from sun damage and enhance beauty, plus it is beneficial for the hair and the eyes. The melanin in chaga may help individuals with spots that occasionally appear on the skin as age advances. Furthermore, consuming beta glucan-rich polysaccharides has proven helpful in nourishing, hydrating and healing the skin tissue.
Chaga also contains Superoxide dismutase (a.k.a SOD), which is a natural antioxidant enzyme, produced within the body. It plays a key role as a free radical killer by essentially protecting against DNA damage and eases the load placed on the immune system. Today, chaga is known as one of the best superoxide dismutase sources in the world.
Chaga is a rich natural source of zinc.
It acts as a reliable anti-inflammatory means. Many of the mushroom’s unique complexes, like lupeol, betulinic acid, ergosterol, inotodiol, trametenolic acid and others act straightly to lower inflammation in the body. Lowering chronic inflammation helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as degenerative disorders. Chaga extracts have proven to relieve gastrointestinal disorder symptoms and irritable bowel syndrome.