Do you often feel weak and battered? It is particularly bad in winter. When the days are shorter and the sun rarely comes out. You feel your immune system is under strain and you're just broken. But what can you do on days like these? Just go back to bed or is there a better solution?
Have you ever heard of medicinal mushrooms, more precisely the Chaga mushroom? It is said to strengthen your immune system and also have a very healing effect. If you want to learn more about this medicinal mushroom and what it is good for, then you should definitely read on. We try to give you all the important information about this medicinal mushroom.
the essentials in brief
- First of all, you should know that not enough research has been done on the chaga mushroom. There are some studies on its healing properties. However, these have not been performed specifically for humans.
- The chaga mushroom is a wood parasite. It uses trees, more specifically birch, as a host. The medicinal mushroom gets its supposedly healing substances from the bark of the trees that it affects.
- A healing effect is attributed to the Chaga mushroom. It is said to support the immune system, help with diabetes, strengthen the gastrointestinal tract and alleviate the symptoms and progression of cancer. That is why it is also referred to as a vital or medicinal mushroom.
Chaga Mushroom: What Is It and What Is It Good For?
The Chaga mushroom is a type of mushroom. Also known as "Schiefer Schillerporling" or in Latin "Inonotus Obliquus". The mushroom is said to have healing properties. It is said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It is also said to have an immune-boosting property (1).
Saprophytic or parasitic means feeding on dead matter.
The Chaga mushroom grows as a tree fungus in or on healthy trees. The infested tree, also known as the host tree, is then slowly killed off by the infestation of the Leaning Schillerporling. Thus, the chaga mushroom is a parasite. It's boney and hard (1).
In the course of the article we will go into detail about the individual properties, the occurrence of the fungus and everything else you should know about it. If you are interested in this fascinating mushroom, then you should definitely read on.
Where does the Chaga mushroom grow and where is it found?
As we already know, the chaga mushroom is a parasitic tree fungus. It grows mainly on birch trees, more precisely silver and yellow birch. The Crooked Schillerporling prefers a cold, damp climate and moor areas with birch forests (2).
Did you know that a humid climate is also referred to as "humid". It means there is high humidity.
It is therefore found, for example, in North and South America, Japan, Siberia, northern Russia, Iran and Europe. Here especially in Scandinavia, mainly in Finland, in Germany on the Baltic Sea or in the Bavarian Forest. The further south you go, the fewer chaga mushrooms you will find (1,2).
What properties does the Chaga mushroom have?
You could say that the chaga mushroom consists of two parts. The first part is the fruit body, it can be up to a meter long and about 5-10 mm thick. This part of the mushroom cannot be seen from the outside. It grows towards the center of the earth (3).
The second part is the bulb of the Leaning Schillerporlings. It has a dark, tarry, brown crust. This is often referred to as dark birch bark. It grows on the outside of the birch tree and bulges outwards on the bark. The bulb of the Chaga mushroom is also rusty brown but has creamy white veins (3).
In this picture you can clearly see the rusty brown to tarry color of the Chaga mushroom. The dry texture is also clearly visible. (Image source: Unsplash / Bluebird Provisions)
The tuber of the Chaga mushroom can reach a diameter of 10 to 40 cm. When fully grown, a weight of up to 5 kilograms can be reached (3).
How does the chaga mushroom taste?
Today, the Chaga mushroom would probably be called a superfood . Especially because it is said to have healing properties. But more on that later. But which taste should you expect if you want to try this mushroom (4)?
Anyone who likes to drink coffee or black tea should definitely try the powder, which is obtained from the Chaga mushroom. The taste is strongly reminiscent of these drinks. A tea made from the Chaga mushroom is slightly sweet and aromatic (1.4).
The taste of tea made from the Chaga mushroom is strongly reminiscent of the taste of black tea or coffee. Slightly bitter but still aromatically sweet. (Image Source: Unsplash / Joanna Kosinska)
However, the smell of the Chaga mushroom is more reminiscent of bark mulch. But you shouldn't let that deter you. If you want to spice up the taste a bit, you can also easily spice it up with cinnamon, cardamom or sugar or make a chai or latte out of it (4).
What is the effect of the Chaga mushroom and how do you use it?
If you suffer from an illness, you should always consult your doctor before taking the Chaga mushroom. Especially if your actual treatment isn't working properly and you want to replace your medication with the fungus. Even if you want to take the mushroom for certain symptoms, you should always clarify this beforehand.
Betulin is used to treat various diseases.
The fungus has not only been known for a few years. Centuries ago it was used to cure diseases. Due to its parasitic properties, the Chaga mushroom can absorb substances from the wood of the bark of the trees. One of these substances, for example, is betulin (4).
But now something more specific. Which diseases should the Chaga mushroom possibly help with? Anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties are attributed to the Leaning Schillerporling. It is also said to support the liver and help with bacterial and viral infections. It can also be used in diabetes (8).
In addition, it is said to have gut-supporting properties. If the microbiome of the intestine is imbalanced , the Chaga mushroom should help to achieve the balance again. It is said to help with indigestion and reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines (7).
It is also said that the Chaga mushroom can be used in the treatment of cancer. However, it must be said that there are currently no significant and meaningful studies, especially no studies on and for humans. However, it has happened that the chaga mushroom has been shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, to help with cancer, and to have anti-cancer effects (7,8).
In this picture you can see how the chaga mushroom attacks the trunk and bark of a birch tree. You can see the mushroom starting to grow. (Image source: Reijo Telaranta / Pixabay)
Despite the many beneficial properties and effects that the Chaga mushroom is said to have, it cannot be overemphasized that it should still be consumed with caution. Research in this area is not yet sufficient. Diseases should always be discussed with a doctor.
Does the Chaga mushroom have a healing effect?
Many healing properties are attributed to the Chaga mushroom. It is also said to have a preventive effect on various diseases. However, this cannot be confirmed 100 percent. In order to make a clear statement, there are no meaningful studies.
Although there has been some research into the healing effects of the chaga mushroom, nothing has been tested on humans. It is therefore not possible to say whether all the effects really apply here (5).
Can side effects occur when taking the Chaga mushroom?
Some health-promoting properties are attributed to the Chaga mushroom. However, one should not rely on everything one reads. Even though taking the crooked polypore can help you, you should use this product with a certain amount of caution. As already mentioned, not enough research has been done in this area.
Oxalic acid lowers the bioavailability of minerals found in food. Increased intake can be harmful to health.
For example, the chaga mushroom contains a substance that can be dangerous to your body. The Chaga mushroom has a very high concentration of oxalate. Excessive amounts of this substance in your body can lead to kidney stones and long-term damage to your kidneys (6).
How should you dose the Chaga mushroom or how much should you take?
The Chaga mushroom is offered in various dosage forms. It doesn't keep fresh when it's fresh. That is why it is often offered in tablet, powder or capsule form. However, it is best to simply boil a piece of the dried mushroom as a tea. This is how it works best (7.9).
When taking it, it depends very much on which dosage form you choose. Depending on which form you take, you should always check the dosage on the packaging first. Since the ingredients can vary, the amount or frequency of intake can also vary (7).
How do you properly prepare the Chaga mushroom?
The best way to prepare the Chaga mushroom is as a tea. Many important substances contained in the Chaga mushroom only dissolve in hot water. Temperature is indeed very important, some substances do not dissolve in cold water (7,10).
Is it easy to confuse the chaga mushroom with other mushrooms?
First of all, you should generally only take any mushroom from the forest with you if you are absolutely sure what kind of mushroom it is. It does not matter whether it is a vital, medicinal or edible mushroom. If you're not 100 percent sure what the mushroom is, don't harvest it. Poisoning has happened very often due to mixing up different types of mushrooms. The Chaga Mushroom or Crooked Shimmering Porling could be confused with the following things.
|birch polypore||Also grows on the birch, but looks nothing like the Chaga mushroom (1).|
|tree cancer||This is a disease that affects the tree. They can be recognized by an infection of the bark (2).|
|witch broom||These are bushy branches in the crown of birch trees (2).|
There is another fungus that grows on the trunks of birch trees. His name is Birkenporling. However, the birch polypore does not look similar to the chaga mushroom. They differ in colour. The birch polypore has a whitish bulb, while the chaga mushroom has a more buff-colored to black one (11).
Tree canker is a fungal infection on the trunk of a tree. It occurs when the trunk is damaged by cracks caused, for example, by weather conditions. Spore deposits then settled on the trunk of the tree. This growth looks very similar to the appearance of the chaga mushroom. However, they cannot be harvested and are also not palatable or edible (12).
Witch brooms are branches in the treetop. This is a sac fungus infestation of the birch. He lets the tree sprout again and again. As a result, more and more branches appear in the same place in the tree crown and an accumulation occurs. This construct can look very similar to the chaga mushroom. However, you quickly notice whether it is a witch's broom or a real medicinal mushroom (13).
In conclusion, the Chaga mushroom has some good properties. It has been used for centuries and has long been regarded as a medicinal and vital mushroom. Its healing properties have also been researched in some studies, although never in studies involving humans.
As a dietary supplement or as an addition to a balanced diet, it can support the immune system . He has also been able to help some people with other illnesses. However, it should still be enjoyed with caution. Research in the field, especially in relation to serious diseases, is not yet extensive enough. It is therefore not possible to say with certainty whether the healing powers really help with the diseases mentioned.
You can try it as an alternative method. In any case, you should always discuss the intake in connection with illnesses with your doctor. In the case of serious illnesses, you should also not forgo medical treatment with appropriate medication.
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- Heinz-Wilhelm Bertram, slate Schillerporling: His Description, its peculiarities, its localities Source
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- Nomura M, Takahashi T, Uesugi A, Tanaka R, Kobayashi S. Inotodiol, a lanostane triterpenoid, from Inonotus obliquus inhibits cell proliferation through caspase-3-dependent apoptosis. Anticancer Res. 2008 Sep-Oct;28(5A):2691-6. PMID: 19035296 Source
- Antje Wohlers, Thomas Kowol, Dirk Dujesiefken: Mushrooms in tree control. Recognize important species on street and park trees. Thalacker Medien, Braunschweig 2001. ISBN 3-87815-167-5 Source
- Hans-Peter Willig, The Biology Page, Tree Cancer Source
- Fritz Schwerdtfeger, The Forest Diseases. Textbook of forest pathology and forest protection. Paul Parey, Hamburg and Berlin 1981, ISBN 3-490-09116-7 Source