Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Specification & Spread
Chaga – inonotus obliquus (fungus betulinus)
Slant inonotus — inonotus obliquus (pers.) Pil.
Basidium fungi — basidiomycota
Other names: chaga, black birch mushroom, tinder fungus.
Chaga is a sterile form of a phytopathogenic fungus that develops as growths of various shapes and sizes on birch trunks, less often on alder, elm, and mountain ash. The formation of chaga is associated with the penetration of fungal spores through the damaged bark of trees. Fungal hyphae penetrate into the wood, gradually destroy it, and outside it develops barren mycelium in the form of black nodules with a fissured surface with a diameter of 5-40 cm. Sometimes the weight of the build-up reaches 5 kg.
Spreading. Chaga is widespread throughout the temperate zone of the Northern hemisphere, in the birch forest zone.
Habitat. The best hosts of chaga are drooping birch (Betula pendula Roth) and white birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.). The presence of chaga on other trees is noted only in areas where the birch grows, in mixed forests.
The chemical composition of chaga
Active substances are water-soluble pigments that form a chromogenic polyphenol-carbon complex. Triterpenoids, sterols, resins, agaricic acid were also found, from macro- and microelements manganese and potassium accumulate in large quantities. Oxalic acid, formic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, vanillic acid, para-hydroxybenzoic acid, polysaccharides, pterins, lignin, cellulose were found.
The positive effect of the fungus in malignant tumors is due to the presence of sterols and agaricin acid. Also found polysaccharides beta-glucans.
Harvesting and storage of raw materials
Harvesting. Chaga can be harvested all year round, but it is easier to search from late autumn to spring, when the foliage of the trees does not mask its growths. At this time, the raw material has a greater biological activity. When harvesting chaga, the excrescence is trimmed with an ax to the very base, then an unnecessary loose light-colored part is cut off from it. Only the outer and solid middle parts cleared of loose mass, bark and wood residues, remain in the raw material are left. The growths from dry or drying trees are not suitable for harvesting, as well as large old crumbling growths found at the base of the trunks of old birch trees that are black in color throughout its thickness. To speed up the drying, the harvested chaga is cut into pieces about 10 cm in size. Security measures. It is advisable to harvest during the cutting of trees.
Drying. The raw materials are dried in dryers or on ovens at a temperature not higher than 60 ºС. In summer, in good weather, it is possible to dry chaga in attics, under sheds or in well-ventilated areas, scattering it in a thin layer.
Storage. In warehouses, chaga is stored in bags in a dry and well-ventilated area, protected from moisture. The damped chaga is easily moldy and becomes unusable.
External signs of raw materials
Whole raw materials
The pieces of various shapes are up to 10 cm in size. The outer layer of growth is black, strongly cracking, the inner layer is dark or brown-brown with small yellow veins, the number of which increases towards the inner side. The fabric of changa is dense, firm. The smell is absent. The taste is bitter.
Milled raw materials
The pieces of raw materials passing through a sieve with holes of 7 mm diameter.
The colour is dark brown. The smell is absent. The taste is bitter.
Sometimes harvesters mistakenly harvest other parasitic fungi on the birch.
Most often you can come across tinder fungus - common and false. Both fungi develop a fruiting body, which has a hoof-like shape, convex at the top, flat from the bottom with a velvety surface (hymenial layer).
Distinctive signs of shelf fungus from similar species
Chaga is oval or rounded dark brown, pitted or cracked, with a large number of small bumps and cracks
The false tinder fungus is hoof-shaped, flat-sided down (convex on top) or hat-shaped velvety, with concentric circles, solid, with a grayish-black or black-brown crust.
The real tinder fungus is a hoof-shaped, in the shape of a semi-circle, flat from the bottom, with a wide base. It is smooth, with concentric, grooves, solid, with a greyish or brownish peel. The wavy layers are visible.
Properties and application
The pharmacological properties of chaga
- increases the body's defense reactions in the experiment,
- activates the metabolism in the brain tissue, which is manifested by an increase in the bioelectrical activity of the cerebral cortex,
- internal and
- local application.
In experimental studies of chaga:
- inhibits the growth of some tumors.
- enhances the cytostatic effects of cyclophosphamide.
Birch mushroom decoction
It has a hypoglycemic effect: the maximum decrease in the level of glucose in the blood serum is observed 1.5-3 hours after ingestion of the decoction. The level of sugar decreases by 15.8-29.9%. It is noted that the hypoglycemic effect gives a decoction from the inside of the fungus; the decoction from the outside does not possess this property.
Application of chaga
Chaga is used as:
- fortifying and
- anti-inflammatory agent for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and
- as a symptomatic remedy for tumors of different localization.
The infusion of chaga is prescribed to patients:
- peptic ulcer and duodenal ulcer.
- quickly relieves pain and dyspeptic symptoms,
- normalizes bowel function
- improves overall tone.
It also used when:
- and other skin diseases, the treatment is especially effective in cases of a combination of skin disease with various inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, biliary system.
When treating chaga, the patient is recommended mainly dairy and vegetable food, limit the intake of meat and fats, exclude canned food, smoked meats, spicy seasonings.
It is also impossible to inject glucose intravenously and use penicillin.
It is contraindicated in: individual intolerance, pregnancy, breastfeeding, child age.
Intravenous glucose is unacceptable.
You can not take chaga at the same time with antibiotics, especially those related to the penicillin series.