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The Siberians of old called chaga mushrooms, “the gift from god.” As far back as the 16th century, chaga mushrooms were being used to treat such ailments as cancer, gastritis and ulcers as well as bone disorders. Modern scientific studies suggest that this belief in the healthful properties of chaga mushrooms was not misplaced.
The chaga mushroom (inonotus obliquus) is a fungal parasite found most commonly on the trunks of birch trees. It is native to Canada, the North Carolina mountains of the United States, Russia, eastern and northern Europe and Korea. Unlike most mushrooms, chaga mushrooms have a tough and woody exterior that looks very much like a blackened growth of the tree bark in which they live.
Chaga mushrooms are very high in B-vitamins as well as being a rich source of enzymes, flavonoids and phenols. In addition, they are among the densest natural sources of pantothenic acid. Chaga mushrooms also contain high levels of calcium, copper, iron, manganese, potassium and zinc. Most notably, they are a rich source of superoxide dismutase, which is a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants are important because they fight the production of free radicals that occur as a by-product of your natural metabolic processes as well as the effects of pollutants like cigarette smoke and other environmental toxins. Free radicals cause oxidation which works on your body in much the same way as rust works on iron. It damages your tissues, causing and supporting many of the more problematic aspects of aging and contributing to certain cancers.
According to an overview of studies published by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, chaga mushrooms have proven benefits above and beyond their antioxidant properties.
Chaga mushrooms have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels in those at risk for, or dealing with, type 2 diabetes. A 2008 study done at Jiangnan University in Wuxi, China showed that diabetic mice given chaga mushroom extracts showed less fluctuation in their blood glucose levels than those that had not been treated with the extracts.
A 2009 study done at Daegu University in Korea showed that chaga mushroom extracts inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells. These results are supported by a study isolating a substance in chaga mushroom extracts called beta glucans, which help to regulate and support your immune system. Beta glucans help your immune system to recognize cancer cells as threats rather than as natural and beneficial cells, meaning that your immune system can fight them earlier.
Other studies have proven the beneficial effects that chaga mushroom extracts have on inflammation and on pain, as well as on helping you to lose and maintain weight.
Chaga mushrooms have a very bitter taste, so they are not usually eaten in any form, either raw or cooked. However, they are commonly mixed with herbs and served as a tea, or dried, ground and formed into tablets or liquid extracts.
The natural and herbal health experts at Fungi Health remind you that it is crucial to deal with reliable professionals when purchasing any health products, from teas to supplements.