What makes a Medicinal Mushroom
Called Chaga so Special?
By Christine Dreher, CCN
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a medicinal mushroom that you may not be
familiar with, as it may not as well known as other medicinal mushrooms like
Reishi, Maitake, or Cordyceps. So what makes the Chaga mushroom so special?
Chaga’s Clinically Studied Beneficial Health Properties
Embraced by Eurasians for centuries and found throughout boreal forests,
Chaga grows primarily on birch trees. Studied and treasured worldwide for
its health-enhancing and antioxidant properties, Chaga is a unique species,
and the focus of recent and ongoing scientific research.
Author Paul Stamets is a dedicated Mycologist and Mushroom Cultivator. He
describes Chaga’s beneficial health properties, in his book
informational Treatise on Mushrooms.” On pages 32 through 34 of his
book, he includes the following about Chaga’s clinically studied,
therapeutic findings: anti-tumor, anti-cancer, anti-viral (HIV and
Influenza), analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties, hypoglycemic,
strong immunomodulatory activities, and as mentioned below in his article
reference, antioxidant and DNA support.
Author Christopher Hobbs is an herbalist, botanist, mycologist and
research scientist. He notes in his medicinal mushroom handbook called
“Medicinal Mushrooms: “An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture”
that Chaga mushroom’s beneficial health properties include: supporting
normal cell growth, blood purifier, inflammation modulator and tonic. 1
As summarized in a research study published in the International Journal
of Medicinal Mushrooms, Chaga indicates its clear antioxidant and
gene-protective—i.e., anti-cancer, anti-microbial, and
Antioxidant & DNA Support (Anti-Aging, Inflammation, &
According to Mycologist Paul Stamets in a Huffington Post article, “Chaga
does contain compounds with enticing medicinal properties. Of particular
interest are the ethanol-soluble lanostanic triterpenoid antioxidants, which
have been detected in laboratory tests and corroborated in many
peer-reviewed articles. Antioxidants mitigate the damaging effects of free
radicals that harm tissue and interfere with DNA replication. A breakdown in
the antioxidant capacity of cells is suspected to underlie various health
challenges, such as inflammation, premature aging, and some cancers.” 3
One study demonstrated that Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA
damage in human lymphocytes. The antioxidant effects of the Chaga mushroom
may be partly explained by protection of cell components against free
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (I.B.D)
Medical scientists at the University of Bradford, U.K., state that
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is partly caused by oxidative stress from
free radicals and reduced antioxidant levels. They studied anti-oxidative
effects of a commercially available room temperature water-ethanol extract
of cultured Chaga mycelium on the DNA of 20 healthy vs. 20 irritable bowel
disease (IBD) patients and concluded that Chaga mushroom extract inhibits
oxidative DNA damage in lymphocytes of patients with I.B.D. 5
An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms
By Paul Stamets
MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms By Paul Stamets
Paul Stamets is a Mycologist, mushroom cultivator, and formulator of Host
Defense Organic medicinal mushrooms, with over 35 years of experience, is a
world leader in functional food mushroom research. His books are recognized
as the standards of the mushroom cultivation industry.
The MycoMedicinals book is a 96 page, full-color resource guide that describes
and documents the health benefits of 17 of the more important mushroom
species (including Chaga). These mushrooms are described in detail noting
Latin species name, common names, distribution and natural habitats, known
active constituents, form used, medicinal properties and the author’s
comments on each species.
This book also contains key reference articles specific to each species
in their treatment of disease (with a special listing of activity against
specific cancers). The book includes a section of commonly asked questions
and an impressive listing of medical professionals who recommend medicinal
Host Defense Organic Chaga Mushrooms
Host Defense’s mushrooms, including Chaga, are sustainably grown without
adversely affecting the native mycoflora. When sourcing mushrooms from the
pristine Olympic rainforest, the Host Defense team leaves the habitat and
original mushroom intact and undisturbed. Only a small sample is required
and taken for growing in their laboratories at the farm. Host Defense
methods protect the native habitat. Their vast culture library of rare and
endangered mushroom species has been called a national treasure.
Defense Organic Chaga Mushrooms provide maximum antioxidant support
against daily free radical attacks. Host Defense Chaga contains activated,
freeze-dried, certified organic mycelium, with a full spectrum of
constituents: polysaccharides (beta glucans, arabinoxylane, glucose, xylose,
galactose and mannose), glycoproteins, ergosterols, triterpenoids and other
myconutrients, which are essential for supporting natural immunity.
Host Defense’s use of
Chaga mycelium, as opposed to the indigestible sclerotia allows for
nutrients to be provided in a fully bio-available form. Host Defense’s
advanced culturing techniques of the mycelium preserve a wide array of
Also, see the
Host Defense Stamets 7 that contains a blend of seven medicinal mushroom
species, including Chaga, for daily immune support and supporting the body in
adapting to physical, mental, and environmental stress factors.
Further Reading on Chaga:
Paul Stamets: MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms
Paul Stamets, with over 35 years of experience, is the world leader in
functional food mushroom research - whose books are recognized as the
standards of the mushroom cultivation industry.
Smith JE, Rowan NJ, Sullivan R [ Medicinal Mushrooms: Their Therapeutic
Properties and Current Medical Usage with Special Emphasis on Cancer
Cristina Lull, Harry J. Wichers, and Huub F. J. Savelkoul [
"Anti-inflammatory and Immuno-modulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites"],
Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands 2005
Hobbs, Christopher (1986) Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of
Tradition, Healing, & Culture, Summertown, TN, Book Publishing Company, pp.
Ulrike Lindequist, Timo H. J. Niedermeyer, and Wolf-Dieter Jülich [" The
Pharmacological Potential of Mushrooms"], Oxford University Press 2005
Andrea T. Borchers, Anita Krishnamurthy, Carl L. Keen, Frederick J.
Meyersà, and M. Eric Gershwin ["Immunobiology of Mushrooms"], Society for
Experimental Biology and Medicine 2008
Balandaykin M.E., Zmitrovich I.V. (2015). Review on Chaga medicinal
mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (higher basidiomycetes): realm of medicinal
applications and approaches on estimating its resource potential. -
International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 17(2): 95–104.
1 Hobbs, Christopher L. Ac. (1986) Medicinal Mushrooms: An
Exploration of Tradition, Healing, & Culture, Summertown, TN, Book
Publishing Company, pp. 121–124
Review on Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Higher
Basidiomycetes): Realm of Medicinal Applications and Approaches on
Estimating its Resource Potential Mikhail E. Balandaykin, & Ivan V.
Zmitrovich. Ulyanovsk State University, Laboratory of Systematics and
Geography of the Fungi, Komarov Botanical Institute
4 Park, Y. K., Lee, H. B., Jeon, E.-J., Jung, H. S. and Kang, M.-H. (2004),
Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as
assessed by comet assay. BioFactors, 21: 109–112. doi:
5: Najafzadeh M, Reynolds PD, Baumgartner A, Jerwood D, Anderson D.
Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in lymphocytes of
patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Biofactors.
2007;31(3-4):191-200. PubMed PMID:18997282.
Note: The content provided in this article is intended for
informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the
place of professional medical advice. You are encouraged to consult with
your medical health care provider regarding any health concern or
health-related condition you may have.