One of my favorite herbs along with Reishi, Chaga has magical benefits to health. See what the studies show and give it a try.
Chaga mushroom has traditionally been used in the treatment of cancer and other serious ailments. Preliminary research shows it has many beneficial properties.
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is somewhat different from most other medicinal mushrooms. This parasitic fungus grows on birch trees and eventually results in the death of its host. The outwards visible growth, also known as tinder conk for its use in igniting fire, is solid, black and crumbly, resembling a big lump of charcoal.
Chaga was completely unknown in the western world, until Russian author and later Nobel laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn introduced it to the world in his novel Cancer Ward, whose protagonist is cured of cancer with the help of Chaga. Cancer Ward is thought to be autobiographical, as Solzhenitsyn suffered from cancer himself.
Besides cancer, in folk medicine Chaga mushroom has been used in the treatment of various stomach problems, tuberculosis, hypertension, viral infections, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Recently it has attracted attention as a potential therapy for HIV infection.
Based on studies Chaga has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunostimulating, anti-nociceptive (pain-relieving) and antiulcer properties. In a Japanese study Chaga extract displayed higher antioxidant activity than other tested medicinal mushrooms. It also has activity against blood clots and hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar).
Chaga mushroom has been shown to have anticancer activity in e.g. hepatoma (liver cancer), gastric cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, melanoma, cervical cancer and lung cancer. It appears to downregulate the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthases iNOS and COX-2 by downregulation of the inflammatory mediator NF-kappa-B.
Downregulation of NF-kappa-B may explain some of the anti-inflammatory and anticancer action of Chaga mushroom. It also means Chaga could have use in the treatment of a wide variety of chronic conditions from Alzheimer’s disease to rheumatoid arthritis. Chaga mushroom also inhibits xanthine oxidase, which can be helpful for treatment of gout.
The problem is that pretty much all studies on Chaga mushroom have been performed in vitro – on cell lines. A few studies have been done on animals. No actual clinical studies on humans have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Things that work well in vitro do not always perform so well in vivo (in the body). For example, many dangerous chemicals kill bacteria – or cancer cells – in the test tube, but would be much too toxic for humans in effective doses. Others may have limited or no absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.
Chaga mushroom can be found in the wild in Northern climates in birches. While Chaga may also grow in other trees, these growths are not thought to be as useful, as many of Chaga’s benefits originate from the way it concentrates substances in the birch.
Traditionally Chaga has been consumed as a tea, which tastes quite similar to ordinary tea or coffee. After crumbling the mushroom it is brewed for several hours or even days to extract the active ingredients. Some sources recommend boiling this concoction for maximum efficacy, others advise against boiling.
For many people a more practical approach would be to purchase a Chaga supplement. Only a few companies currently manufacture Chaga mushroom supplements. Some websites also sell dried Chaga conks. The proper dosing of Chaga mushroom is unknown.
Based on the limited research, Chaga mushroom may well be worth a try for people with e.g. poorly treatable cancer, though expecting a cure would be unrealistic. Chaga mushroom is often claimed to be “free of side effects because it is natural”, but being “natural” does not automatically make anything free of adverse effects.
Whether Chaga could affect the metabolism of other drugs or supplements is not known, so those who are on any medication should be careful. One should always discuss the use of any such supplements with one’s doctor.
Read more at Suite101: Benefits and Properties of Chaga Mushroom: Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus Obliquus May Treat Cancer | Suite101.com http://suite101.com/article/benefits-and-properties-of-chaga-mushroom-a139845#ixzz1zhKzA0RH
Byron Richards, CCN
Pterostilbene, like its cousin resveratrol, is gaining world-wide attention for its rather dramatic ability to improve human health, protect against the diseases of aging, and extend lifespan1.
Pterostilbene is found in small amounts in blueberries and grapes, but the most cost effective source is from the bark and heartwood of a tree that grows in India and Sri Lanka (Pterocarpus marsupium or Indian Kino Tree).
Extracts of Pterocarpus marsupium have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several thousand years for the treatment of diabetes. Modern day animal research on Pterocarpus marsupium helps support its traditional folk medicine use, showing it can:
In today’s marketplace extracts of Pterocarpus marsupium can be standardized for its most important biologically active compound, pterostilbene6 (pronounced “tero-STILL-bean”). This nutrient is a type of polyphenol known as a stilbenoid, as is resveratrol. Stilbenoids are very small molecules that are readily absorbed, wherein they participate in antioxidant systems, anti-inflammatory systems (lowering NF-kappaB and unfriendly nitric oxide8), and can have profound regulatory impact on multiple gene signals. Pterostilbene has two methoxy and one hydroxyl group, whereas resveratrol has three hydroxyl groups. These small differences in an otherwise identical structure enable quite different function. For one thing this enables pterostilbene to be absorbed into cells easier and makes it slower to be cleared out of the body, compared to resveratrol. Pterostilbene excels as an antioxidant between cells (such as inflammatory tissue damage9) whereas reseveratrol excels at protecting cells in the blood. Resveratrol specializes in activating the longevity gene SIRT1, whereas pterostilbene has a profound effect on the fat/lipid metabolizing gene PPAR (both nutrients activate many genes). Stilbenoids are synthesized by plants in response to infectious attack, making them excellent immune support nutrients. The unique structure of pterostilbene makes it 5-10 times as potent an anti-fungal as resveratrol.
When pterostilbene enters a cell, it easily binds to the receptors for PPAR activation10, enabling improved metabolism of triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Hamster studies show that PPAR activation with pterostilbene11 lowered LDL cholesterol by 29%, lowered blood sugar by 14%, and boosted protective HDL cholesterol by 7%.
The major problem of high blood sugar is that it caramelizes healthy body structure by forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs), thereby speeding the decline of the kidneys, heart, eyes, and all things flexible. A new study shows that pterostilbene can directly block the formation of AGEs12. Another study showed that pterostilbene lowered hemoglobin A1C13 in diabetic rats (a marker that predicts AGEs formation). And yet another study showed that this versatile nutrient prevented damage to the liver and kidneys14 of diabetic rats.
The abnormal proliferation of cells within the walls of arteries takes place during the plaque formation process. An animal study shows that pterostilbene15 inhibited this undesirable process. The researchers concluded that “pterostilbene may be a potential anti-proliferative agent for the treatment of atherosclerosis.”
The metabolic science on pterostilbene along with its traditional folk use, warrant its inclusion along with other synergistic nutrients to support healthy metabolism of lipids and blood sugar.
One of the great problems of being overweight is that it significantly boosts the risk for cancer including aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Not only does pterostilbene help support the return of normal metabolism, it is one of the most heavily researched anti-cancer compounds.
As a small molecule, pterostilbene has no problem gaining access into cancer cells. It appears to be a cancer cell’s worst nightmare. It damages a cancer cell’s membrane and DNA and induces death signals causing self-destruction. This was recently shown with studies of both breast and prostate cancer cells16. In another recent breast cancer cell study, pterostilbene caused the energy-producing system within the cancer cell to malfunction and generate massive amounts of free radicals instead of energy, resulting in breast cancer cell death17. Similar findings have now been demonstrated with pancreatic cancer cells18. Pterostilbene has also been shown to inhibit colon cancer19, lung cancer20, liver cancer21, and skin cancer22.
In a recent study with bladder cancer cells23 pterostilbene was shown for the first time to activate the autophagy process wherein a cell is commanded to eat itself, thereby inducing cell death. In normal health, autophagy is used to help keep a cell clean, which prevents cancer. It is amazing, that the intelligence to help healthy cells and help kill cancer cells exists, by important mechanisms like autophagy.
Pterostilbene is a nutrient you are sure to hear more about. It works by multiple mechanisms at the gene level to promote metabolic health and the risk of cancer.