Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a type of mushroom that grows mainly on birch trees in northern Europe, Asia, Canada, and the northeastern United States. Long used in folk medicine, Chaga contains massive amounts of the pigment melanin. When exposed to the sun, the exterior of the mushroom will turn a deep black, while the interior will remain a bright orange-ish color. Chaga also contains among the highest levels of oxalate (a compound linked to kidney stones) of any living organism.*
Alternative practitioners believe that Chaga offers numerous health benefits. Among them, Chaga is believed to fight inflammation, lower blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, alleviate arthritis, and even prevent or slow the progression of cancer. Chaga is rich in fiber and essential nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Chaga's high melanin content has led some to believe that it can bolster the melanin naturally found in the skin, thereby protecting it from sun damage, skin cancer, wrinkles, or aging.*
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