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Medicinal useSince the 16th century, there are records of chaga mushroom being used in folk medicine and the botanical medicine of the Eastern European countries as a remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers, and tuberculosis of the bones. A review from 2010, stated, "As early as in the sixteenth century, Chaga was used as an effective folk medicine in Russia and Northern Europe to treat several human malicious tumors and other diseases in the absence of any unacceptable toxic side effects. Chemical investigations show that I. obliquus produces a diverse range of secondary metabolites including phenolic compounds, melanins, and lanostane-type triterpenoids. Among these are the active components for antioxidant, antitumoral, and antiviral activities and for improving human immunity against infection of pathogenic microbes. Geographically, however, this fungus is restricted to very cold habitats and grows very slowly, suggesting that Chaga is not a reliable source of these bioactive compounds. Attempts for culturing this fungus axenically all resulted in a reduced production of bioactive metabolites." In 1958, scientific studies in Finland and Russia found Chaga provided an epochal effect in breast cancer, liver cancer, uterine cancer, and gastric cancer, as well as in hypertension and diabetes.
In China, Japan and South-Korea hot water extracts of the non-linear, complex (1<-3) and (1<-6) ß-glucan polysaccharides that are found in Chaga and other mushrooms from the family Basidiomycota are being produced, sold and exported as anti-cancer medicinal supplements. The biologic properties of crude preparations of these specific β-glucans have been studied since the 1960s. Although these molecules exhibit a wide range of biologic functions, including anti tumor activity, their ability to prevent a range of experimental infectious diseases has been studied in the greatest detail. Recent scientific research in Japan and China has been focused more on the anti-cancer potential and showed the effects of these specific polysaccharides to be comparable to chemo therapy and radiation, but without the side effects.  Further research indicated these polysaccharides have strong anti-inflammatory  and immune balancing properties,  stimulating the body to produce NK (natural killer) cells to battle infections and tumor growth, instead of showing a direct toxidity against pathogens. This property makes polysaccharide-based supplements stand out from standard pharmaceuticals, as there will be no side effects; the body is healing itself. Herbalist David Winston maintains that it is the strongest anti-cancer medicinal mushroom. Russian Literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his autobiographical novel, based on his experiences in a hospital in Tashkent, "Cancer Ward" (1968).
Betulin and betulinic acid, are compounds found naturally in chaga and birch trees. The compounds are now being studied for use as a chemotherapeutic agent. Whereas Betulin as it is found in birch bark is indigestible by humans, the Chaga mushroom converts it into a form that can be digested orally. In an animal study, researchers found betulin from birch bark lowered cholesterol, obesity and improved insulin resistance.