Dick was reading ArbLIFE Spring 2014, a publication that we receive in the mail through our Northland Arboretum membership. (The Northland Arboretum is a 583-acre nature preserve located within the city limits of Brainerd/Baxter. It is the site of a former 40-acre landfill that closed in 1972.) He showed me an article titled, "A Fungus Among Us... Can it be a Cure for Cancer?" This wood decaying mushroom species, that is found on birch and other trees in cold climates, is the chaga mushroom. (Photo source: wikimedia.org)
According to the article, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is researching the chaga mushroom's potential in helping the body slow and stop the growth of cancerous tumors and reduce the toxicity associated with radiation. It has also exhibited antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and an ability to stimulate the immune system. It is generally ingested as a tea. A locally made chaga tincture to add to water can be purchased at the Northland Arboretum. Life Preserver Natural Foods in Baxter stocks chaga chunks with tea instructions enclosed inside the package. A hand-harvested herbal tea blend that I received in one of my monthly Birds Eye Tea shipments contains chaga mushroom.
The ArbLIFE article cautions... "Widespread chopping of chaga conks off of trees threatens a delicate ecological balance. A solution to over-harvesting chaga is cultivation. Cultivation is a sustainable practice, while commercial harvesting of wild chaga is making this mushroom harder to find."