Life on Distant Hill Blog ... Chaga Mushroom
"The Diamond of the Forest"
Chaga Mushrooms are nothing like the common soft Mushroom. They are almost as hard as wood. Known in Russia as the “Gift from God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality,” chaga have been used medicinally for thousands of years. The Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” while in China it is known as the “King of Plants.”
Chaga mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, is also known as clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass and birch canker polypore. It is a parasitic fugi on birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal. It is not the fruiting body of the fungus, but a mass of mycelium, mostly black due to the presence of massive amounts of melanin.
Documented as early as 4600 years ago, Chaga was used by Asian folk medicine practitioners to maintain a healthy life energy balance or “Chi”, preserve youth, promote longevity, and boost the body’s immune system. It was ingested by the local people of the Siberian mountains as a Chaga Tea, with a flavor that resembles coffee. It was also smoked, or applied to the skin.
Laboratory studies on extract of chaga mushroom have indicated possible future potential in cancer therapy, as an antioxidant, in immunotherapy, and as an anti-inflammatory. For medicinal use, an extract is needed to make the active components available to humans.