Chaga is a fungus that grows on birch trees with damaged bark in cold climates. This mushroom, which looks like it has been burned, may also be effective against cancer and inflammation. The healing effect of this mushroom, the benefits of which are very small, surprises those who hear about it.
WHAT MAKES CHAGA MUSHROOM SO SPECIAL?
Chaga, an adaptogenic mushroom, is believed to bring the body back into balance by helping it adapt to stressors. For this reason, it is often used in medicinal teas, coffee alternatives, tinctures and powders. The medicinal use of the chaga mushroom is not new. Historians have traced its use back to the 12th century and made its way back to many places from Russia to Siberia and from Poland to Asia. The medicinal properties of Chaga have been used for centuries to treat digestive disorders, tumors and diseases of the heart and liver.
BENEFITS OF CHAGA MUSHROOM
Research on medicinal mushrooms, including chaga, is still ongoing, but there is a reason why this type of mushroom is used for healing all over the world. Here’s what we know so far about the health benefits of chaga mushrooms.
1. PROTECTS AGAINST IGNITION
You don’t have to be afraid of a small inflammation. In fact, it is the body’s natural immune response to injury, infection and other harmful stimuli. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to heal bruises or broken bones or fight off colds. But chronic inflammation can be a problem because it causes damage that can be the source of serious health problems, from asthma to cardiovascular disease. That’s where chaga comes in, which has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties, according to a study published in the journal Molecules in 2022. Research results show that chaga extracts made with water and alcohol may protect cells from inflammation. Other research also suggests that chaga has impressive anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its phenolic compounds.
2. A VALUABLE SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are an important part of a healthy diet because they fight unstable free radical molecules that wreak havoc between cells and contribute to disease. “Chaga is said to contain more antioxidants than other types of mushrooms. A previous study showed that cells pretreated with chaga can have about 40 percent less oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Chaga mushroom is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants in the world.
3. STRENGTHENS IMMUNITY
According to 2021 research from the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, based on animal experiments and in vitro studies, chaga may support immune function primarily because it increases white blood cell count. According to previous studies, the mushroom species also increases the rate of cytokines. These signaling proteins are known to reduce inflammation, communicate with white blood cells and help regulate immune response.
4. IMPROVES BOAT HEALTH
Since chaga has traditionally been used to treat digestive problems, it’s not surprising that it plays a role in supporting a healthy gut. The polyphenols in chaga are antioxidants and prebiotics, meaning they encourage the growth of healthy, beneficial bacteria in the microbiome. A 2017 study in mice also showed that the polysaccharides (or carbohydrate molecules) in chaga mushrooms have prebiotic properties that improve the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Researchers have also found that chaga contributes to the diversity of the gut microbiome.
5. LOWERS CHOLESTEROL
High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. However, chaga mushrooms can lower “bad” cholesterol levels and increase “good” cholesterol levels, protecting the heart. While the exact mechanism is not known, this effect is likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
6. HAVE AN EFFECT AGAINST CANCER
While more human studies are needed to confirm this finding, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2021 concluded that chaga mushroom could be a great supplement for breast cancer patients, as it can suppress cancer cell growth. Chaga’s anti-cancer and anti-tumor potential has also been studied for colon and lung cancer. A 2016 study found that chaga mushrooms reduced the number of tumors by 60 percent in mice with a type of lung cancer. And a 2019 study found remarkable evidence of chaga extract’s ability to inhibit the proliferation of lung cancer cells.
HOW TO USE CHAGA?
Chaga is very rare and has a bitter taste, so it is not common to consume it in large quantities. In contrast, it can interact with some blood thinners when taken in excess, and can even cause kidney stones or kidney damage due to its high oxalate content. This mushroom is usually ground into a powder, then sold as capsules, tablets, tea or tincture and used in smoothies and tea blends. Experts generally recommend consuming no more than 2,000 mg of chagaport (2 tablespoons) per day.