Chaga mushroom, scientific name Inonotus obliquus, is a type of mushroom that generally grows on the bark of trees such as birch but also beech, oak and alder in regions characterized by cold weather such as Siberia, Alaska and part of north Canada. The name chaga comes from the Russian word used to indicate the mushroom. This mushroom has been used for centuries and now it is becoming popular thanks to its antioxidant properties, useful to counteract aging processes, wrinkles and dull skin, but it has also an adaptogenic, antibiotic and antiviral action and, according to scientific studies (Choi SY et al, 2010, Journal of biomedicine and biotechnology) also an anti-inflammatory effect. It is able to boost the immune system, is rich in vitamins B and D, mineral salts such as copper, selenium, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium and, for this reason, it results useful in periods of stress and tiredness, is helpful to prevent cold, cystitis and digestive problems. In addition to this, chaga mushroom, thanks to its anti-inflammatory action, counteracts also joint pain. According to a scientific research published in 2016 on the journal Helyon and performed by a team of Showa University, Tokyo, Japan (Arata et al.) the chaga mushroom extract seems to have a suppressive effect on cancer by inhibiting vascularization, that should feed the cancerous cells. We can mention also the study carried out in 2008 and published in the World Journal of gastroenterology by a team of Wonkwang University, School of Medicine, Korea, that shows that chaga mushroom is able to induce apoptosis in cancer cells of liver cancer. You can find chaga mushroom in powder in specialized shops or herbalist’s shops, you just have to dissolve a tablespoon of this powder in a glass of lukewarm water and drink after meals from one to two times a day. Possible side effects are intestinal problems and diarrhea but also individual allergies. Since there aren’t studies about safety of chaga mushroom during pregnancy and breastfeeding, avoid the mushroom in these cases. Pay attention if you suffer from diabetes and are taking medicines because chaga may influence the levels of sugar in blood. If you are taking medicines in general it is always better to ask your doctor for advice.