Chaga [Inonotus obliquus]

Growing almost exclusively on birch trees and rarely found on elm, beech, and hornbeam. Chaga grows when a fruiting body of a higher fungi species enters a wound of a mature tree and forms a large hardened mycelial mass (the conk) that grows into the dark mound that we recognize as Chaga.

Unlike many other functional mushrooms where the fruiting body is the medicinal powerhouse, Chaga's fruiting body is not normally seen in Nature, and their mycelial mass offers many beneficial compounds.

The indigenous Siberians, namely the Khanty people, have used Chaga for thousands of years, and there is a long history of Chaga being used in folk medicine for treating cancer, gastritis, ulcers, and tuberculosis in Russia and northern Europe.

Chaga is a rich source of beta-glucans, a sub-group of polysaccharides known for their ability to modulate the immune system and offer highly effective adaptogenic effects.

Chaga also produces an impressive array of metabolites, high levels of melanin, and several types of triterpenes which make these fungi a potent antioxidant, anti-ulcer, anti-gastritis, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a tool for managing oxidative DNA stress.

File:Inonotus obliquus2.jpg
Inonotus obliquus, the medicinal chaga mushroom,
Connecticut River Watershed (Vermont, USA).