Chaga Mushroom – Inonotus obliquus

3 Main Benefits 

wild harvested Siberian chaga.Innonotus obliquus

History and traditional usage of Chaga mushrooms

Inonotus obliquus or Chaga mushrooms are parasitic white rot species which grow on the birch trees and are well known in Russian traditional medicine [1; 2; 6].

It is considered that Chaga possesses great benefit in treatment of cancer and improvement of overall health [Zheng et al. 2010; Lee et al. 2015]. The Russian writer and Nobel laureate of literature Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in semi-autobiographic novel „Cancer Ward“ (1967) describes the benefit of Chaga in treatment of cancer.

Besides anticancer activity, Chaga has high potential as antioxidant due to its valuable secondary metabolites (bioactive compounds) [1].

Bioactive compounds of Chaga fruiting body

Consequently, need to scientifically prove the traditional usage of Chaga mushroom has led to a series of scientific research papers that investigate chemical composition and bioactive compounds of Chaga mushroom extracts [1; Lee et al. 2015; Rhee et al. 2008; Kim et al. 2007; Zheng et al. 2008; Lee et al. 2007; Nakajima et al. 2007; Babitskaia et al. 2000; Nikitina et al. 2016; Ali-Seyed et al. 2016]. Per numerous scientific papers, Chaga mushroom produces following bioactive components:

  • polysaccharides (beta-glucans) [2;  3; 4],

  • phenolic compounds [1; 6; 7],

  • melanin [1; 8],

  • triterpenes and steroids compounds [9],

  • betulinic acid [10].

According to above listed bioactive compounds, it can be concluded that properties of Chaga extracts have influence on improvement of general health condition, one of the most important are the following:

Anticancer property of Chaga mushroom

In scientific studies, anticancer activities of Chaga mushroom extracts were investigated in vitro or in vivo . The precise mechanism for the inhibition of cancer cells, has not been established yet, but as per various research several possible mechanisms are proposed. First among them suggests that polysaccharides from I. obliquus have significant role in enhancing immune system in fight against cancer, and influence on normalising of metabolic processes which leads to healing [Zheng et al. 2010; Zheng et al. 2008; Ali-Seyed et al. 2016]. Additionally, other studies point out betulinic acid as the main substance in treatment of cancer [Ali-Seyed et al. 2016; Mullauer et al. 2010].

Antioxidant property of Chaga mushroom

In some scientific papers, antioxidant property is considered as key property for usage of Chaga mushroom extracts [2; 7; 13; 14]. Results of these studies indicate that Chaga extract has the capacity to protect cell and its components from oxidative damage [12; 13]. Since oxidative damage is closely related with development of wide range of diseases, antioxidant property is important for maintenance of good health [12; 13,14].

Immune enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties of Chaga mushroom

Recent studies explain that water extract of Chaga taken through oral administration by immunosuppressed mice could regulate the level of Interleukin-6 (cell signalling protein – cytokine) and suppress tumour necrosis factor-α (cytokine), which are inflammatory mediators [Kim et al. 2005]. Similarly, another study proved by suppressing expression of inflammatory mediators, that water extract of Caga possesses anti-inflammatory properties [Mishra et al. 2012]. Therefore, immunomodulatory activity of Chaga is closely linked with anti-inflammatory property.

Based on aforementioned studies, it needs to be emphasized that Chaga extracts contain high potency of anticancer, antioxidant, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory property for health improvement.

Key words: Inonotus obliquus, Chaga mushroom, extract of Chaga, polysaccharides, anticancer, antioxidant, immune enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties

Note: These statements have educational purposes and have been based on investigation of scientific research. The products of this mushroom are not generally approved as an official drug. It is important to be aware that every organism reacts differently on conventional drugs or alternative therapies such as extract of fungi. Because of that, every type of treatment, conventional or alternative may exhibit a stronger or weaker effect on the human organism, which certainly depends on the unique organism and general state of health.

  1. Zheng W, Miao K, Liu Y, Zhao Y, Zhang M, Pan S, Dai Y (2010) Chemical diversity of biologically active metabolites in the sclerotia of Inonotus obliquus and submerged culture strategies for up-regulating their production. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 87:1237-1254. doi:10.1007/s00253-010-2682-4

  2. Lee HS, Kim EJ, Kim SH (2015) Ethanol extract of Innotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) induces G1 cell cycle arrest in HT-29 human colon cancer cells. Nutr Res Pract 9:111-116. doi:10.4162/nrp.2015.9.2.111

  3. Rhee SY, Cho SY, Kim KM, Cha DS, Park HJ (2008) A comparative study of analytical methods for alkali-soluble β-glucan in medicinal mushroom, Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). LWT – Food Science and Technology

  4. Kim YO, Park HW, Kim JH, Lee JY, Moon SH, Shin CS (2007) Anti-cancer effect and structural characterization of endo-polysaccharide from cultivated mycelia of Inonotus obliquus.

  5. Zheng WF, Zhao YX, Zhang MM, Yin ZJ, Chen CF, Wei ZWK (2008) Phenolic compounds from Inonotus obliquus and their immune-stimulating effects. Mycosystema 27:574-581.

  6. Lee IK, Kim YS, Jang YW, Jung JY, Yun BS (2007) New antioxidant polyphenols from the medicinal mushroom Inonotus obliquus. Bioorg Med Chem Lett

  7. Nakajima Y, Sato Y, Konishi T (2007) Antioxidant small phenolic ingredients in Inonotus obliquus (persoon) Pilat (Chaga). Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo)

  8. Babitskaia VG, Shcherba VV, Ikonnikova NV (2000) Melanin complex of the fungus Inonotus obliquus. Prikl Biokhim Mikrobiol

  9. Nikitina SA, Khabibrakhmanova VR, Sysoeva MA (2016) Chemical composition and biological activity of triterpenes and steroids from Inonotus obliquus (Chaga) mushroom. Biomed Khim

  10. Ali-Seyed M, Jantan I, Vijayaraghavan K, Bukhari SN (2016) Betulinic acid: recent advances in chemical modifications, effective delivery, and molecular mechanisms of a promising anticancer therapy. Chem Biol Drug Des.

  11. Mullauer FB, Kessler JH, Medema JP (2010) Betulinic acid, a natural compound with potent anticancer effects. Anticancer Drugs 

  12. Cui Y, Kim DS, Park KC (2005) Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus. J Ethnopharmacol

  13. Park YK, Lee HB, Jeon EJ, Jung HS, Kang MH (2004) Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay.

  14. Kim YR (2005) Immunomodulatory activity of the water extract from medicinal mushroom Inonotus obliquus.

  15. Chaga has the highest ORAC score ever recorded in any natural food