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5 Health Benefits of Chaga

Chaga mushrooms are prominent in Siberia and Asian traditional medicine. The mushrooms are mostly known for their immune-boosting benefits and how they have been shown to provide an all rounded benefit by supporting overall wellness.


The Chaga mushroom’s rough, black, coal-like appearance may make it the opposite of aesthetically pleasing relative to other medicinal mushrooms, but we’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, and the Chaga mushroom is a perfect example in this case. 


What is the Chaga mushroom? What are the benefits you’d expect to get from taking Chaga supplements? Read on to find out.

What is the Chaga Mushroom?

The Chaga mushroom is a medicinal mushroom that has been used by the people of Siberia and Russia for centuries. 


The Chaga mushroom contains over 200 different bioactive molecules and is prized as a medicinal "superfood" and tonic. It grows on several trees such as birch, alder, and spruce where it appears as a sterile growth or conk on the tree's trunk. 


The dark or black exterior colour of the sclerotium comes from the melanin, which has been proven to have positive effects on the immune system when supplemented. [6] 


Potent antioxidant triterpenes and diterpenes are also found in significant amounts, as well as beta-glucans and chitin. The terpenes, beta-glucans, and chitin are also compounds known to improve immune cell sensitivity.

5 Benefits of Chaga

1. Contains antioxidants


Scientists have since found that mushrooms contain many antioxidants, and Chaga is no exception. [1]


Antioxidants help fight the free radicals that the body is exposed to every day. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells. The damage accumulates until it comes to a point where the body’s antioxidants are overrun. This can lead to illnesses, including some cancers. 


By providing a barrier against free radicals, the Chaga mushroom has been studied as a potential natural remedy to fight cancer and slow down tumour growth.[1] 

2. Can assist in lowering Cholesterol


Another benefit of being a reputable source of antioxidants is cholesterol management. 


Researchers confirm Chaga mushrooms contain many antioxidants that may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Higher LDL levels have been strongly correlated with higher risks of heart disease, including strokes, arterial plaque buildup, and hypertension.


It’s why many doctors recommend going easy when it comes to high cholesterol foods. The fact that Chaga mushrooms can have cardiovascular benefits opens the doors for alternative dietary recommendations outside of the usual low-fat or low-sodium meal plans. [2]

3. Can help fight some cancers and reduce tumour growth


Experts consider many factors regarding the risk of cancer, but some say it’s due to the body’s antioxidant systems being overrun by free radicals. This also negatively affects our immune system.


As discussed earlier, antioxidants help provide protection against cancer cell growth, and Chaga mushrooms just happen to be rich sources of antioxidants. [3]


When you actively consume food or supplements rich in antioxidants, you are also helping your body fight diseases and lower the risk of cancer. 

4. Chaga mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties


One of Chaga's main benefits is its powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It can help the body manage inflammation better, leading to an overall reduction of chronic illnesses. [4]


Another benefit to having anti-inflammatory properties is how it can also indirectly reduce inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Arthritis is a condition caused by inflammation in the joints, and Chaga has been cited to help relieve the pain and stiffness associated with it. [7]

5. Improves immunity


Immunity is all the talk nowadays, especially with what challenged every government the last two years. It’s why when the news comes out with a new superfood or ingredient benefit finding, it’s often due to its immune-strengthening benefits, and Chaga mushroom is one of them. [5]


Research shows Chaga extracts can positively affect immunity by fighting harmful microbes. It promotes the formation of beneficial cytokines, or unique proteins the body uses to regulate our immune system. This way, Chaga supplementation indirectly stimulates white blood cells to look for harmful microbes and get rid of them before they cause infections. 


In conclusion, the Chaga Mushroom can boost immunity, fight excessive inflammation, and contains antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer cell growth. It’s therefore understandable that you would want to try out chaga mushroom supplements yourself. 


There are two ways to get your medicinal mushroom fix: Capsules or Powder Extracts. Regardless of how you take chaga supplements, it will give the same amazing health benefits regardless. 



References:


-Park YK, Lee HB, Jeon EJ, Jung HS, Kang MH. Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):109-12. doi: 10.1002/biof.552210120. PMID: 15630179.


-Zhang Z, Liang X, Tong L, Lv Y, Yi H, Gong P, Tian X, Cui Q, Liu T, Zhang L. Effect of Inonotus obliquus (Fr.) Pilat extract on the regulation of glycolipid metabolism via PI3K/Akt and AMPK/ACC pathways in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Jun 12;273:113963. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.113963. Epub 2021 Feb 26. PMID: 33640441.


-Arata S, Watanabe J, Maeda M, et al. Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice. Heliyon. 2016;2(5):e00111. Published 2016 May 12. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2016.e00111


-Lull C, Wichers HJ, Savelkoul HF. Antiinflammatory and immunomodulating properties of fungal metabolites. Mediators Inflamm. 2005;2005(2):63-80. doi:10.1155/MI.2005.63


-Kim YR. Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus. Mycobiology. 2005;33(3):158-162. doi:10.4489/MYCO.2005.33.3.158


-Yan ZF, Yang Y, Tian FH, Mao XX, Li Y, Li CT. Inhibitory and Acceleratory Effects of Inonotus obliquus on Tyrosinase Activity and Melanin Formation in B16 Melanoma Cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:259836. doi:10.1155/2014/259836


-EA, El Enshasy H, Wadaan MA, Aziz R. Mushrooms: a potential natural source of anti-inflammatory compounds for medical applications. Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:805841. doi:10.1155/2014/805841