The mysterious mushroom known as chaga has rapidly become one of the world’s most recognized and respected superfoods. Chaga tea has been used as a folk remedy for generations in Alaska and Siberia owing to its numerous benefits, which include boosting immune system health (and thus warding off disease), improving digestion, combating aging through eliminating free radicals, and more. But can chaga also fight off cancer, one of the worst diseases in the world today?
The answer is yes. Chaga tea has been shown in a number of clinical studies to have anti-cancer effects, though these effects are not the same for every form of cancer. Indeed, initial results have prompted a flurry of research into chaga’s anti-cancer qualities. Here’s how chaga can help you combat cancer.
Chaga Tea, Cancer, and History
While chaga has only recently become popular and well-known in the U.S., Russians have been using it as a cure-all for centuries. Indeed, it was through the famed Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that chaga’s anti-cancer qualities came to the West’s attention. Solzhenitsyn’s 1966 novel Cancer Ward, which was partially based on his experiences in a Soviet cancer ward, features a character named Dr. Maslennikov who writes to the protagonist, Kostoglotov, on how chaga can be used to cure cancer.
Solzhenitsyn had become famous in the West as a critic of the Soviet Union, and following Cancer Ward’s publication in English in 1968, numerous researchers journeyed to Siberia to test the validity of the novel’s chaga claims. These researchers discovered that there were no cancer patients being admitted to Soviet hospitals due to unusually low cancer rates in the region. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that Soviet peasants were drinking chaga tea instead of coffee in order to save money, which inadvertently protected them against cancer.
Following these discoveries, chaga became a point of interest for cancer researchers looking to uncover its secrets. While harvesting chaga from the Soviet Union was not possible during the Cold War, Alaska also featured large amounts of chaga that could be picked and studied. Ever since then, chaga has become a major tool in the fight against cancer.
How Does Chaga Tea Fight Cancer?
Chaga naturally grows on the trunks of birch trees, absorbing its nutritional content from those trees. Birch trees in Siberia and Alaska are so rich in anti-microbial content that they actually contained fewer pathogens then modern operating rooms in hospitals. Anti-microbial nutrients in birch trees are so strong that their bark retains its white color even if the tree is completely rotted through. It is these nutrients that are absorbed by chaga mushrooms over the course of their lives.
Chemical testing has identified a number of substances within chaga that are responsible for its anti-cancer qualities. The most important of these are polysaccharides and beta glucans, which are carbohydrates that improve brain and liver function as well as enhance energy levels. Chaga is also rich in betulinic acid, a substance that actively kills cancer cells without harming healthy human cells. Chaga also contains phytosterols, lanosterols, and inotodiols, which actively kill microbes in the body.
Chaga is also noted for its high antioxidant content, which makes it effective at killing off free radicals and other unwanted particles in the body, including cancer cells. Studies have shown that chaga is rich in super oxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant that naturally occurs in the body and helps keep cells healthy, but decreases as humans age. Chaga has the highest known SOD among medicinal mushrooms at a whopping 35,000, compared to 1,400 to 1,600 for other mushrooms.
Finally, chaga’s high oxygen radical absorbency capacity (ORAC) is another reason for its effectiveness as a cancer treatment. ORAC value measures the antioxidant content of various foods, and given that antioxidants have been proven to fight cancer, consuming foods with a high ORAC value is a good way to harden your body against carcinogenesis. Chaga possesses an ORAC value four times that of clove oil, which has the highest ORAC value of medicinally essential oils.
There have been a number of scientific studies in recent decades analyzing chaga’s anti-cancer properties. One notable study was conducted at the University of Mississippi in 2004. It showed that chaga’s anti-microbial qualities made it a good candidate for developing new antibiotics. The study also showed that chaga’s nutrients acted as biological response modifiers (BRMs) that directly prevented carcinogenesis, the process by which healthy cells become cancerous.
As detailed in Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward and by a number of studies since its publication, chaga is capable of fighting cancer even if no other methods are used. However, for those undergoing traditional cancer treatments, chaga can still aid the healing process. For example, consuming chaga tea has been shown to mitigate the negative effects of chemotherapy. Given how easy it is to obtain chaga and make chaga tea these days, there’s little reason not to consider it as part of cancer treatment.
Chaga’s anti-cancer properties are part of why it has become so appealing as a superfood. Not only can regular chaga consumption drastically reduce your chances of getting cancer, it can help fight cancer once your body has already developed it. Chaga tea’s widespread availability means that there’s no reason not to try it if you’re either concerned about developing cancer or already have it.
However, you should always consult a medical expert before you make any major changes to your routines. While chaga has been proven to be effective in fighting cancer, everyone’s body is different and will react to substances differently. This is doubly true for someone who is already combating cancer and undergoing chemotherapy or taking other drugs. However, if you are careful about making medical decisions, there’s no reason you won’t be able to take advantage of the anti-cancer properties of chaga.