Chaga mushrooms have powerful adaptogenic benefits. These mushrooms can boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, fight free radicals, and manage the effects of diabetes. These are just a few of the 17 Chaga benefits we found.
What is Chaga Mushroom?
Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) are a type of fungus that grows mainly on the bark of birch trees in cool climates, such as Northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, Korea, Northern Alaska, and Canada (1,2).
You may know Chaga by some other names, such as black mass, clinker polypore, birch canker polypore, cinder conk, and the sterile conk trunk rot (of birch). Chaga produces woody progress, or conk, which appears similar to a clump of burnt charcoal. These mushroom growths can be as big as 15 in or 38 centimeters. Though the outside is rough, when you cut it open you will find a delicate center with an orange color.
How Would You Like Your Chaga?
You can consume Chaga mushrooms in many ways. Some people prefer to eat the mushrooms, while others enjoy making them into tea. Additionally, you can even use Chaga as syrup, bath agents, and extracts put into supplements (3).
Chaga is not just a home remedy. For years, Chaga has been used as a Traditional medicine in Russia and other Northern Europe. Doctors would prescribe Chaga to improve patients’ immunity and general health (1).
Chaga Benefits for Your Health
1. Nutrient Rich Super Food
Chaga mushrooms are rich in a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients:
- amino acids
- B vitamins
- vitamin D
- and fiber
2. Chaga Mushrooms Have Strong Antioxidant Properties
Chaga has one of the strongest antioxidant activities for common medicinal mushrooms (4). The phenolic compounds found in Chaga mushrooms scavenge free radicals and protect cells from oxidation (5). These antioxidants are likely the cause of many of the Chaga benefits. Such as, you could see a 40% reduction of DNA damage caused in your lymphatic systems as a Chaga benefit (2). Additionally, Chaga can protect your nerves from oxidative stress reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (6). Similarly, Chaga extract may even protect you against the effects of chronic inflammation of the pancreas (7).
3. Slowing the aging process
Oxidative stress triggers the physical signs of aging. As a result, the more oxidative stress the more wrinkles, loose skin, and grey hair. Additionally, sun exposure, pollution, and contact with chemicals create many free radicals for your body to neutralize. Thus accelerating the appearance of growing older, especially your skin.
Theoretically, supplying your body with an increase of antioxidants could slow the appearance of aging, or possibly even reverse obvious signs of aging even.
Although no research has linked Chaga to anti-aging benefits conclusively, its effectiveness in fighting other varieties of oxidative stress shows that it could also battle signs of aging.
4. Promotes Heart and Cardiovascular Health
Chaga mushrooms contain a variety of antioxidants that can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad” cholesterol. Since a significant risk factor for heart disease is high cholesterol, you could reduce this risk factor by using Chaga mushrooms.
5. Chaga Boost Immune System
You can find numerous immune-boosting benefits from Chaga mushrooms. These benefits include increasing health, fighting auto-immune disease, reducing allergic reactions, help fight infections and viruses.
6. Increases Your Immune System Health
Boost your immune system with Chaga by actually helping your body produce more immune cells. Chaga extract increases the production of the immune cells IL-6 and lymphocyte B (8). When your immune system has more soldiers you have a greater ability to fight off pathogens (9).
7. Fights Against Auto-Immune Diseases
There is nothing quite as scary as when your body starts attacking or fighting itself. Fortunately compounds found in Chaga help your body overcome auto-immune diseases by helping your immune system differentiate between your body’s good cells and foreign cells (10). In turn, this helps your immune system to respond accurately and protect your body from those pathogens (10). Additionally, Chaga extract can reduce immune hypersensitivity (11).
8. Reduce Allergic Reactions
Chaga could benefit you by reducing the risk of severe allergic reactions including cardiac shock (11). Chaga ethanol extract could reduce the levels of IL-4 and increases IFN-y levels. Likewise promoting Th1 response and inhibits Th2 cell response (12). When your Th1 and Th2 cytokines are balanced they help balance the immune system. Your Th2 cells synthesize IL-4, and they play an important role in allergic reactions by inhibiting your Th1 cell functions. On the other hand, Th1 cells produce IFN-y cytokines, which inhibits Th2 cells (12).
9. Help Fight Infections
You may be able to use Chaga Like anti-bacterial soap. Since Chaga extracts are able to kill bacteria and fungal cells in cell culture (13). Interestingly Chaga extract also stopped quorum sensing. Quorum sensing is a method that bacteria cells use to activate gene expression. Anti-quorum sensing is another way that Chaga can help fight against bacterial infections (13).
10. Help Control Viruses
You may be able to benefit from Chaga for viral infections as well. Chaga mushroom also has anti-viral activities and can assist in preventing viral microbe infections (14). Curiously Chaga has been studied to combat HIV and was shown to remove or diminish HIV replication (14, 15). In addition, Chaga can prevent the herpes simplex virus and Epstein-Barr pathogen from infecting new skin cells and from replicating (16, 17).
11. Chaga Benefits: Possible Anti-Cancer and Tumor Properties
Reducing and Preventing Cancer
If you are concerned about cancer and tumors, you should do some more research on Chaga and consider taking it. Chaga has been the subject of many studies to help fight cancer with many positive results. For example, Chaga extract reduces the growth of colon, liver, lung, breast, and cervical cancer (3,18, 19). Also, Chaga extracts targeted and reduced the growth of only cancer cells and not the growth of healthy cells (18). It is believed that antioxidant compounds found in Chaga help the immune system recognize cancer cells as harmful and invasive (10). This helps your body to then mount an immune response against cancer (3, 10, 18).
Fighting Cancerous Tumors
Supplementing with Chaga extract could reduce tumor size by 60% when compared (20). Once you are diagnosed with cancer, the spread of cancer becomes a strong fear. Supplementing Chaga extract was also found to suppress the spread of cancer to other parts of the body (20). Cancer develops by changes and damages in your DNA. Reactive oxygen species and oxidative damage increase the risk of cancerous mutations by damaging cellular DNA (21). Thus, by reducing oxidative stress, Chaga lowers the risk of unwanted changes in your DNA (16430879″>R18). Accordingly, this could mean that Chaga may also reduce the risk of developing cancer.
12. Chaga Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
When your body is struggling with sickness, inflammation supports the battle. But sometimes, swelling transitions from a short-term assault to a persistent health problem. Some illnesses, particularly chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, are linked to inflammation. If you have chronic inflammation you may also be experiencing depression, which may now be linked to chronic inflammation (22). As discussed earlier Chaga can help you with overactive immune systems. As a result, Chaga is able to reduce an overactivated immune response and in turn limit harmful inflammation (11).
13. Chaga Manage the Effects of Diabetes
If you are suffering from high blood sugar levels Chaga ethanol extract may be able to lower your blood sugar levels. Since, Chaga extract reduced symptoms of diabetes including high blood sugar, free essential fatty acids, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol (23). Chaga removes increased high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol and insulin levels in the livers of diabetic mice (23). This can help prevent high blood sugar and diabetic issues (23).
14. Increasing PPARy Activity
PPARγ is a molecule that decreases insulin level of resistance by improving insulin signaling and energy metabolism (24). Chaga water extract increased PPARγ transcriptional activity and helped with extra fat cell differentiation. In turn, this reduced insulin resistance and made it an interesting possibility as a treatment for diabetes (24). In addition, Chaga extract increased PPARγ activity in fat tissues and reduce unhealthy weight gain (25).
Want to Binge Some Carbs?
Chaga mushrooms can also slow carbohydrate absorption by inhibiting the molecule alpha-glucosidase (26). Reducing possible spikes in blood sugar levels that would normally lead to problems in diabetes.
15. Chaga Anti-Oxidative Properties Also Help Diabetics
16. Chaga Increases Physical Endurance
You may want to take Chaga as your new pre-workout. Studies have demonstrated that Chaga may increase your exercise endurance. Consuming Chaga extract may make you able to swim longer (28). Chaga appears to do this by allowing your body to store more energy in your muscles and liver (28). In addition, Chaga could reduce blood lactate levels when exercising (28). Subsequently boosts your endurance since an accumulation of lactate in your muscles causes fatigue. As discussed Chaga can increase PPARy. Well, the benefits of increased PPARy are also energy, metabolism, and endurance increases (24, 25).
Chaga Improves Brain Function and Memory
The antioxidative powers of Chaga are also very beneficial to your brain function. For example, Chaga can lower your brain’s oxidative stress (29). Additionally, the mushroom extract can help with chemical-induced cognitive dysfunction (29). Chaga can also restore the levels of acetylcholine during oxidative stress as efficiently as the reference drug tacrine (29). Your acetylcholine levels promote learning and memory; they also increase acetylcholine availability producing nootropic-like benefits (30).
17. Support Pain Management
Do you need to numb some pain, Chaga extract can reduce your reaction to pain (31). Similarly, Chaga can reduce pain by blocking the effects of enzymes involved in inflammatory pathways, nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (32). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and aspirin reduce the sensation of pain and swelling by also blocking COX-2 (33).
Chaga is a Dietary Supplement and not a Medicine
Even though many studies have been done with Chaga and found it safe, its effects can be complicated or negative when combined with other drugs or supplements. You should check with your healthcare provider before you start taking Chaga.