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Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Basidiomycetes, chaga conk, chagi, chago mushrooms, cinder conk, clinker polypore, conk, flavonoids, fungus, Hymenochaetaceae (family), inonoblins, Inonotus obliquus, kabanoanatake, melanins and other pigments, phelligridins, polyphenols, Polyporaceae (family), polypores, polysaccharides, sterols, tiaga, triterpenoids, true mushrooms, tsi aga.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Inonotus obliquus is a mushroom commonly known as "chaga" that is widely used in folk medicine in Siberia, North America, and northern Europe (1). Chaga is widely distributed in Europe, Russia, and in the northern regions of Japan (2). According to various websites, chaga, a member of the Basidiomycetes (true mushrooms) family, is a parasitic, polypore fungus (Polyporaceae or Hymenochaetaceae family), which grows mainly on birch trees, and produces a black perennial woody growth called a "conk" that absorbs nutrients and phytochemicals from the wood. When the chaga conk flower ripens, it falls to the forest floor; however, it is estimated that only about 0.025% of trees will grow a chaga conk, making the chaga mushroom somewhat rare, even in its prime northern range.
  • According to reviews, chaga, along with other mushrooms, have a history of medicinal use relating to the following effects: antimicrobial, antiviral, cytotoxic, immunomodulatory, antineoplastic, cardiovascular, phytotoxic, analgesic, antidiabetic, antioxidant, insecticidal, and nematocidal activities (3;4). According to secondary sources, chaga has also been used in Siberian folk medicine as a cleansing and disinfecting substance, often used to treat stomach discomforts.
  • There is insufficient available clinical evidence in support of chaga for any indication. In Eastern Europe, chaga has been used as a folk medicine for cancer (2). More clinical study is required.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.