Description: Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus found primarily on birch trees that has been used in the folk medicine of Russia, Japan, and Europe. Chaga mushroom can be eaten as a food, and is also made into tea, syrup, bath agents, and extracts.
High in antioxidant properties and beta-glucans, Chaga is traditionally used to stimulate the immune system, balance energy, and reduce inflammation. Chaga is also known to help reduce fatigue and increase mental sharpness, making it a delicious coffee alternative or addition. Also good in ginger ale. Traditional uses for this mushroom have included improve the immune response and treating stomach issues, and modern research can now explain how Chaga benefits these conditions and more.
Reduces Oxidative Stress
Chaga has the strongest antioxidant activity when compared against three other common medicinal mushrooms that also fight oxidation. In cell studies of human lymphocytes, Chaga extract reduces more than 40% of the DNA damage caused by hydrogen peroxide. In human cell studies, a compound isolated from Chaga protects nerves from oxidative stress from Parkinson’s disease. Chaga can protect against the effects of chronic inflammation of the pancreas. Studies have shown that the phenolic compounds found in Chaga mushrooms scavenge free radicals to protect cells from oxidation.
Helps Protect the Immune System
Chaga increases the production of immune cells IL-6 and lymphocyte B. This can help increase the immune system’s ability to fight pathogens.
Compounds found in Chaga help the immune system to differentiate between the body’s cells and foreign cells. This helps the immune system to respond accurately and protect the body from those pathogens.
Chaga reduces immune hypersensitivity. Treatment with Chaga reduced the risk of cardiac shock from severe allergic reaction.
Helping the body to more accurately sense its own cells may also reduce the risk of autoimmunity.
Chaga mushroom also has anti-viral activities and can help prevent viral infections. Chaga decreases viral replication. It also prevents the Herpes virus and Epstein-Barr virus from infecting new cells and from replicating. Chaga also decreased infection from the hepatitis C virus.
Chaga is able to reduce an overactivated immune response, which can limit harmful inflammation.
Chaga also decreases the expression of NF-kB , a molecule that activates an inflammatory response.
Chaga reduces inflammatory cytokine response, and decreases the response to pain.
Chaga also reduces inflammation in colon cells, which shows promise in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Can Improve Diabetic Health
Chaga significantly decreased blood glucose levels. Chaga reduces symptoms of diabetes including high blood glucose, free fatty acids, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol.
Chaga increased high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol and insulin levels in the livers. This helps prevent high blood sugar levels and diabetic complications.
PPARγ is a molecule that decreases insulin resistance by improving insulin signalling and energy metabolism. Chaga increased PPARγ transcriptional activity and helped with fat cell differentiation. This decreased insulin resistance, making it a possible treatment for diabetes. Chaga increased PPARγ activity in fat tissues and reduced unhealthy weight gain.
The Chaga can also slow carbohydrate absorption by inhibiting the molecule alpha-glucosidase. This can reduce spikes in blood sugar that would otherwise lead to complications in diabetes. Oxidative stress contributes to insulin resistance and accelerates diabetes complications. Chaga’s antioxidant properties can reduce this oxidative damage.
Increases Physical Endurance
Studies determined that compounds in Chaga increased exercise tolerance. Chaga polysaccharides significantly reduced blood lactate levels. This may also help to boost endurance, since accumulation of lactate in the body can cause fatigue.
Chaga administration also decreased blood urea nitrogen levels, which can otherwise contribute to fatigue. Chaga activates PPARγ, which could help to maintain positive energy metabolism and promote physical endurance.
Protects Against Dangerous Blood Clots
Platelet aggregation occurs when blood cells clump together and form clots. Sometimes, platelet aggregation can cause blood clots in veins (thrombus), which can eventually lead to heart attacks or strokes.
Chaga significantly inhibited platelet aggregation. These results indicate a possibility for Chaga to treat or stop thrombus formation.
Promotes Cognitive Function
Chaga mushroom helps with chemical-induced cognitive dysfunction. Chaga lowered brain oxidative stress.
Chaga also restored the levels of acetylcholine during oxidative stress. Acetylcholine promotes learning and memory, and increasing its availability can provide nootropic benefits.
An interesting fact about Chaga mushrooms is they possess a naturally occurring vanillin, the same as found in the vanilla bean. So when you drink tea or coffee containing a Chaga mushroom, a slight vanilla flavor will be tasted.
How to use: Besides supplementation, via powder or pills, the main way most people consume this nutritious mushroom is brewing it as a tea. Take a spoon of Chaga and place it in a teapot. Pour in about 300ml boiling water and cover with a lid. Brew it for 3-5 minutes.