Officially known as Inonotus obliquus, Chaga is mostly found in colder climates – specifically Northern America, Siberia, Northern Europe and even remote parts of Asia. A type of growth on birch trees, Chaga is harvested and then used in a variety of styles to consume, such as chunks which are steeped in warm water or powder that is added to food or beverages.
While Chaga has a vast list of benefits, it’s the research on cancer cells that has garnered a good amount of attention. Most studies have focused on how Chaga boosts the immune system and helps reduce the potential of a number of diseases, including diabetes, due to its effects on glucose levels, digestive ailments and even cardiovascular systems. However, more and more studies are being done to learn about the effect Chaga is having on cancer cells. Some research has shown promising results that this medicinal mushroom has on reducing tumors and cancerous cells, while leaving the surrounding tissues and normal cells untouched. For those who undergo conventional cancer therapies, chemotherapy and radiation are two of the most common medical solutions to reducing and eradicating cancer cells in the body. One of the major downsides of these therapies is the damage chemotherapies and radiation do on surrounding tissues and the immune system.
One such study was done to examine the effect Chaga had on in vitro anticancer activity, such as watching the cell proliferation and motility between cancer cells and the surrounding normal cells. A variety of cancers were examined, including carcinomas of the human lung and colon, and provided with small fractions of dried Chaga in order to see how the cells were impacted. Results of the study highlighted that anticancer effects were present, and most notably, that the surrounding cells that were tested showed little to no levels of toxicity. While this test is by no means a final say on the matter, it appears as though Chaga does have powerful effects on cancer cells and elicits further studies. Some of the most notable signs Chaga had included decreased tumor cell proliferation and motility.
If you are undergoing cancer therapies, consider talking to your doctor about the addition of Chaga as part of the therapy. Do not stop taking prescribed medication or treatments without the supervision of your oncologist – Chaga should be used as a complement to treatment, not as a substitute. For those who are interested in incorporating Chaga to a daily routine for its antioxidant and anti-cancer effects, one cup of Chaga daily is recommended.
While a good deal is already known about Chaga, more studies need to be done in relation to Chaga and its effect on cancerous cells. Preliminary studies are showing great promise and could be a positive solution to future cancer therapies and treatments!
 Lemieszek, M K, et al. “Anticancer Effects of Fraction Isolated from Fruiting Bodies of Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus Obliquus (Pers.:Fr.) Pilát (Aphyllophoromycetideae): in Vitro Studies.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22135889.