Chaga The Charred Mushroom


(Inonotus obliquus)

This mushroom has a weird history to it. The Khanty people, a reindeer following tribe of people in Siberia believed smoking the mushroom improved lung function. We do not recommend this. A mummified body in ice sheets that dates back to 3400 B.C. was found to have a chaga mushroom in his pouch. Also, In the 12th century, Tzar Monamakh attributed the disappearance of his lip tumor to chaga. So like I said, this mushroom has a weird history.

Chaga grows on birch trees that resembles a piece of bark. If you saw it you wouldn’t think of it to be a mushroom. It falls into the classification of an adaptogen. It was put in mud for its soothing properties and promotion of better health. The mushroom has large amounts of melanin making the mushroom when exposed to sun remain orange on the inside but become a charred black on the outside. Despite the mushroom looking weird, it also has a weirdly profound effect on cancer.

Chaga seems to finally be recognized in the modern science world for its anti-cancer properties. Studies showed that compounds in chaga have been able to kill cancer cells directly and even activate the immune system to kill tumor cells. Chaga has the ability to go and kill different kinds of cancer cells like brain cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

Chaga has immunomodulation effects and studies show this mushroom can stimulate an immune response while lowering inflammation. Most medicines have just one of those effects. So to have the ability to do both makes this mushroom, a little weird. Polysaccharides that were isolated from chaga were also shown to promote macrophage activation. Macrophages are large white blood cells that are essential to the immune system. Meaning chaga can potentially regulate immune responses without negative side effects like most medications.

With a mushroom that looks weird and has weirdly profound effects, only one saying comes to mind. Let’s get weird.