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Dave W

Important report on Chaga

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I just read an article in FUNGI Magazine Winter 2020 issue about the presence of oxalic acid in Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). Oxalic acid is a substance that can possibly contribute to health threats including formation of kidney stones. The article also claims that calcium binds to oxalic acid to form calcium oxalate, which does not accumulate in the kidneys and instead is eliminated in feces. The upshot of this appears to be that consuming large amounts of Chaga, especially when one's diet does not include foods high in calcium, may pose health threats. I assume research will continue. For the time being, I assume that daily consumption of significant amounts of Chaga tea --especially if one does not consume calcium rich foods-- is not recommended. 

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Interesting, but people need to use common sense with any food or drink. 

Micro-managing your diet based on theoretical concerns of future harm creates anxiety and mental distress. So much anxiety, that the harm inflicted by worrying about we eat is worse than the rare medical consequences predicted.

On the other hand if you are someone with frequent Calcium Oxalate kidney stone you probably should pay attention to Oxalate consumption

From the Cleveland Clinic:  The more oxalate that is absorbed from your digestive tract, the more oxalate in your urine. High-oxalate foods to limit, if you eat them, are:

  • Spinach
  • Bran flakes
  • Rhubarb
  • Beets
  • Potato chips
  • French fries
  • Nuts and nut butters

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There has been one documented death attributed to the oxalic acid b a person who used Chaga tea. Besides, the only way to get any nutrients from chaga is to cut the living mycelium part  of the fungi from a live tree. Conks from dead tree have nothing active.  The dried conk does not have active ingredients. I had to do a lot of searching on the net to find any reputable studies on the oxalc acid amount in Chaga.  The preceding  was taken from a scientific paper and condensed.

The Oxalic acid on some food is not able to be digested by the body.  As in many chemicals in fungi and other sources, some can be  obtained by water while others take other methods to obtain. Only the water digestible Oxalic ones may be harmful and form kidney stones.

I'd never cut a living tree  for something that has no PROVEN health benefits.

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Personally, I think it's best to act on the side of safely. 

What I've read suggests that dietary habits and/or physical disposition of the individual may have something to do with oxalic acid being a threat. There needs to be more research on the use of chaga. 

My wife started using chaga a few years ago --in the form of a double water/alcohol extract.. She thinks it has helped her. In fact a couple years ago she experienced her first cold-free winter in memory, and she credits the chaga. But, in light of the questions surrounding oxalic acid, she has cut back on how much of it she uses (a few drops in her tea but not daily). 

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