The post-antibiotic world of Western Medicine is now beginning to study, evaluate, and test Chaga for the active compounds underlying its historically understood homeopathic benefits. As with many other natural medicinal foods and herbs, the modern medical and scientific community is coming to understand that whole supplements like Chaga, offer a complex balance of active compounds, delivery mineral structures, and co-agents, more effective to sustaining a healthy immune balance than isolated compounds synthesized from these natural products.
The primary active compounds discovered in Siberian Chaga are a variety of triterpenes and sterols, including Lanosterol, Ergosterol Inotodials, Saponins, and Polysaccharides.Modern research is now beginning to demonstrate that these compounds are effective for human maladies treated by folk medicine practitioners with natural products, without toxic side-effect, for millennia.
After being ignored for hundreds of years by western pharmacologists, Chaga is currently enjoying a resurgence as a possible treatment for a wide variety of diseases and health problems, including chronic fatigue syndrome, the flu, stomach problems, and even HIV and certain types of cancer. Recent studies in the U.S., Russia, and other countries have shown Chaga to have anti-tumor benefits related to the mammary glands and female sex organs; studies in Finland have demonstrated that inotodial, one of the most active ingredients in Chaga, was effective against influenza virus and various cancer cells; and Japanese research not only found similar antiviral activity, but also discovered that Chaga shows activity against HIV (protease inhibition).
Chaga has even been classified as a medicinal mushroom under World Trade Organization (WTO) codes. Arguably, the most well known western research conducted on the use of Chaga has been performed by Dr. Kirsti Kahlos and her team at School of Pharmacology, at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Dr. Kahlos’ team conducted studies validating the immuno-modulating impact of Lanosterol-linked triterpenes effective as a flu-vaccination and for anti-tumor applications. Institutional studies at the University of Tokyo, Japan have determined effectiveness of Inotodials in the destruction of certain carcinosarcomas and mammary adenocarcinomas.
The Melanin complex produced by the Chaga mushroom demonstrates high antioxidant and genoprotective effects ( Melanin Complex from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus Obliquus, Journal of Medical Mushrooms, 2002, vol. 4) . The polysaccharide beta-glucan, also present in Chaga, is proven to be effective at inhibiting mutagenic and immuno-modulating effects of cancerous tumors by triggering immune system response (SP Wasser, 2002, Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel). In 1998 there was a study in Poland that demonstrated Chaga’s inhibiting effects on tumor growth. Noda et. al found that betulin seems to work highly selectively on tumor cells because the interior pH of tumor tissues is generally lower than that of normal tissues, and betulinic acid is only active at those lower levels.Fulda et al. found in 1997 that once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors. In 2005 there was a study done at Department of Medical Nutrition in South Korea.
The Chaga Mushroom was evaluated for their potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in human lymphocytes. The study found that the polyphenolic extract protected these cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Another study that year found the endo-polysaccharide of Chaga produced indirect anti-cancer effects via immuno-stimulation.The mycelial endo-polysaccharide of Inonotus Obliquus was identified as a candidate for use as an immune response modifier and indicates that the anti-cancer effect of endo-polysaccharide is not directly tumorcidal but rather is immuno-stimulating. It has also been demonstrated as anti-inflammatory. Saitoh Akiko published on the antimutagenic effects of Chaga in 1996, and Mizuno et al. published on the anti tumor and hypoglycemic activities of the polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of Chaga.
The following article was published by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) a joint venture by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
Established in 1988 as a national resource for molecular biology information, NCBI creates public databases, conducts research in computational biology, develops software tools for analyzing genome data, and disseminates biomedical information – all for the better understanding of molecular processes affecting human health and disease. Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay.The Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is claimed to have beneficial properties for human health, such as anti-bacterial, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. The antioxidant effects of the mushroom may be partly explained by protection of cell components against free radicals. We evaluated the effect of aqueous Chaga mushroom extracts for their potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in human lymphocytes. Cells were pretreated with various concentrations (10, 50, 100 and 500 microg/mL) of the extract for 1 h at 37 degrees C. Cells were then treated with 100 microM of H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) for 5 min as an oxidative stress. Evaluation of oxidative damage was performed using single-cell gel electrophoresis for DNA fragmentation (Comet assay). Using image analysis, the degree of DNA damage was evaluated as the DNA tail moment.Cells pretreated with Chaga extract showed over 40% reduction in DNA fragmentation compared with the positive control (100 micromol H2O2 treatment). Thus, Chaga mushroom treatment affords cellular protection against endogenous DNA damage.
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) induces G0/G1 arrest and apoptosis in human hepatoma HepG2 cells.
Vestibulocochlear Research Center, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, #344-2, Shinyoung-dong, Iksan, Jeonbuk 570-749, Korea.
AIM: To investigate the anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) water extract on human hepatoma cell lines, HepG2 and Hep3B cells. METHODS: The cytotoxicity of Chaga extract was screened by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Morphological observation, flow cytometry analysis, Western blot were employed to elucidate the cytotoxic mechanism of Chaga extract.
RESULTS: HepG2 cells were more sensitive to Chaga extract than Hep3B cells, as demonstrated by markedly reduced cell viability. Chaga extract inhibited the cell growth in a dose-dependent manner, which was accompanied with G0/G1-phase arrest and apoptotic cell death. In addition, G0/G1 arrest in the cell cycle was closely associated with down-regulation of p53, pRb, p27, cyclins D1, D2, E, cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) 2, Cdk4, and Cdk6 expression.