There is a good reason why they call Chaga the “king of medicinal mushrooms” also named “diamond of the forest”. Chaga is a charcoal and rot-like fungus that grows on alder, cherry, maple, rowan, oak, and birch trees. Known by its scientific name, Inonotus obliquus. Chaga mushrooms are most common, you will find them in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Canada, North America, Alaska, Finland, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Japan.
Chaga mushroom supports the immune system
The mushroom contains immune-modulating compounds like beta-glucans. They up-regulate the immune cell-signaling events and potentiate the cells of the immune system like Natural Killer (NK) cells. Chaga mushrooms are also known to help the white blood cells perform their duty in the body—these white blood cells help the body fight everything from harmful bacteria to other disease-causing organisms that may enter the human body. While fighting harmful bacteria, the mushroom also helps the body get rid of mutated cells too.
Chaga mushrooms enhance the activity of helper T cells which search for and destroy the mutated cells. The xylogalactoglucan polysaccharide in the mushroom induces programmed cell death i n infected and cancer-ridden cells. (1)
Chaga has anti-inflammatory features, it is known to have beneficial cytokines, which are vital molecules that help control inflammation. Chronic inflammatory has been link to many illnesses range from rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease to even cancer. This means that by just taking Chaga for its inflammation protection benefits, you could be avoiding a large number of health problems.
Stress Relief of Chaga
One of the lesser-known benefits of Chaga mushroom powder is that it can fight stress. Chaga belongs to the adaptogen mushroom family. Adaptogen supports the body’s homeostasis and helps the body to respond to stress.
Chaga and heart health
The bioactive compounds in Chaga like betulin, betulinic acid, inotodiol, lanosterol, and trametonolic acid lower blood cholesterol levels. (2)
The medicinal properties of the Chaga mushroom allow it to reduce LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.These cholesterol-balancing effects of Chaga mushrooms reduce the risk of heart disease.
Chaga for the thyroid
Chaga helps in restoring the balance of the thyroid by activating the immune system, increasing NK cells, and reducing the thyroid antibodies.
Chaga supports Gastrointestinal functions
Chaga contains melano-glucan complexes which have anti-microbial potential. These complexes along with melanin in the mushroom help boost the beneficial gut bacteria. Chaga mushroom can therefore help in balancing out the gut flora preventing dysbiosis. (3)
Chaga protecting brain function
Chaga mushroom has been shown to protect against chemically-induced cognitive decline in study subjects.
Chaga helps lower blood sugar
The mushroom has been shown to lower sugar levels in the blood of mouse models. The mushroom polysaccharides have significant anti-hyperglycemic effects. They reduce fasting glucose levels and insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance. (4)
Chaga also increases the hepatic glycogen levels, increasing the storage levels of glucose rather than circulating it in the blood. This shows that the mushroom may have the ability to reduce insulin resistance in humans and help them avoid constantly high blood sugar levels which could cause long-term diabetes complications.
Chaga protect DNA from damage
Chaga mushroom is rich in antioxidants. The antioxidant concentration of Chaga is the highest among naturally occurring foods. (5)
A healthy body requires a balance of free radicals and oxidants. Free radicals are unstable molecules that destroy the cellular DNA accelerating aging. Disruption of free radical-antioxidant balance can lead to oxidative stress. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) scavenges the free radicals in the body. Chaga benefits the DNA by combating free radical damage using its high SOD content. (6)
Chaga and the Pineal Gland
The pineal gland is a pea-sized gland located deeply in our brain. This endocrine gland produces melatonin and regulates reproductive hormones. Melatonin promotes a good night’s sleep by regulating the circadian rhythm. This “go to sleep now” hormone is derived from melanin. Chaga mushroom has the highest food source of melanin. Consumption of the mushroom activates the pineal gland by supporting the production of melatonin. Another benefit of melanin-rich food is that it prevents the age-associated buildup of calcium, phosphorus, and fluoride in the pineal gland.
Chaga fights oxidative stress which makes it a superior beauty supplement. Harmful UV rays of the sun cause free radical injury to the skin. This leads to features of premature aging like wrinkles, drooping skin, grey hair, and freckles. Chaga benefits skin health by promoting youthful skin. The antioxidant enzymes of the mushroom keep skin hydrated, well-nourished and plump. In addition to helping you maintain youthful skin, Chaga has benefits for the hair, helping you avoid grey hair. Chaga mushroom contains melanin, a naturally occurring anti-oxidant. Boasting high antioxidant levels, Chaga leverages melanin to support healthy skin pigmentation. The beta-glucans of the fungus are a powerful humectant. Topical skincare products enriched with Chaga extracts are more hydrating than the now popular hyaluronic acid. Regular use of Chaga-infused skin products supports healthy skin.
Chaga and Cancer cells
There is research that has shown that Chaga mushrooms has the ability to fight cancer and kill mutated cells, it can handles all types of cancers, from liver cancer to human colon cancer cells and lung cancer. Preventing the growth of cancer, the Chaga extract works extremely well when paired with other cancer treatment methods.
One of the most vital health benefits of Chaga, the ability to fight cancer cells is brought about by compounds known as triterpenes.
The triterpenes in the mushroom elicit anti-cancer effects by decreasing mutations in cancer cells. Cellular mutations cause the evolution of normal cells into cancer cells. (7) Chaga can induces cell death if the cells are already mutated.
A study conducted in 2010 to prove fighting cancer as one of the Chaga benefits observed that Chaga mushrooms slowed the growth of cancer cells in the breast, cervix, and lungs. Unlike traditional treatment modalities like radiation and chemotherapy, the use of Chaga mushroom for cancer does not harm healthy non-cancerous cells. (8)
The Chaga extract can also elicit anti-tumor effects in prostate and breast carcinomas. This can be attributed to ergosterol and ergosterol peroxide present in Chaga. (9)
Chaga mushroom is generally a safe medicinal fungus and is well tolerated by many. Most people enjoy Chaga benefits without dealing with side effects. However, consuming the mushroom may not be a good thing if you are allergic to Chaga.
We recommend using a Chaga supplement after the go-ahead from your doctor. Talking to a health professional before using the mushroom should help you get Chaga mushroom benefits without risking side effects.
- Tendency to bleed as Chaga may inhibit platelet aggregation. The Chaga mushrooms feature a protein that inhibits blood clotting. For this reason, if you are also on blood thinning medications, taking Chaga without the guidance of a health practitioner may not be a good idea.
- It may cause digestive problems like diarrhea.
It may significantly lower blood sugar levels when used with anti-diabetes medication. Chaga mushroom increases the effect of insulin and combining the two can put you at risk of hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. (10)
- It can lead to kidney stone formation due to Chaga's high oxalate content (11)
It is best to avoid Chaga if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You have a history of autoimmune diseases.
- You are on blood-thinning medications. Blood thinners are medications that prevent blood clotting. These blood thinners are also known as anticoagulant drugs.
- You are on anti-diabetes drugs. This includes both pills and insulin.
- You have surgery scheduled ahead.
- You are on medications that regulate blood pressure.
- You have a history of osteoporosis or kidney stones.
Talking to a doctor can help you figure out an ideal dose to help you enjoy Chaga mushrooms benefits without suffering from side effects.
†These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your General Practitioner. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician