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Chaga is a buzz-worthy functional mushroom making its way onto café menus and wellness blends worldwide. But this cold-climate fungus isn't just a passing trend–records of Chaga benefits predate modern medicine. In fact, you can find records of the mushroom used as a remedy to boost immunity or treat heart issues in ancient Chinese and Russian manuscripts.
Curious about the benefits of Chaga in a daily wellness routine? Let's dig into the ways this powerful mushroom may help:
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Research is still limited, but some of the primary benefits of Chaga may include the following:
Let’s dig into the research available. Here are eight research-backed Chaga benefits you should know:
Like all mushrooms, Chaga contains a bountiful supply of polysaccharides, or complex carbohydrates, that provide the body with energy. Additionally, Chaga is known to be a powerful source of antioxidants that can help prevent free radical damage within the body. Other nutritional and biological factors may include:
All high-quality Chaga supplements may provide these nutritional benefits, but many people enjoy Chaga tea as part of a healthy diet.
A 2005 study found that Chaga may stimulate the production of beneficial cytokines, a protein that regulates immune function. This could stimulate the white blood cell response to improve the body’s ability to fight off harmful viruses and bacteria.
On the other hand, the same study found that Chaga may also prevent the production of harmful cytokines, which may help prevent inflammation triggered by bacteria and viruses.
A 2012 study confirmed these results when it found that Chaga extract could reduce gut inflammation by inhibiting non-beneficial cytokine production.
Antioxidants help protect the body from free radical damage, which is known to be a leading cause of many signs of aging, like skin wrinkles and dark spots. Free radical damage may also lead to tissue damage over time, which may be why our cognitive functions deteriorate.
Chaga's high antioxidant content is often credited for its potential to kill cancer cells. Specifically, Chaga contains large amounts of triterpene, an antioxidant thought to help kill cancer cells.
Thanks to its powerful antioxidant profile, Chaga mushrooms could help reduce inflammation. Since inflammation is a root cause or primary symptom of many chronic diseases, it means that Chaga could have many beneficial uses. One study found that besides providing anti-inflammatory effects, Chaga also helped fight off harmful bacteria.
In addition to preventing free radical damage that causes signs of aging, some sources suggest that Chaga may support cellular regeneration, which can help repair tissues damaged by outside sources, like pathogens, sunlight, or free radicals.
Some evidence suggests that Chaga may have some anti-cancer effects that could potentially prevent or manage various types of cancer. All studies involve test-tube samples or animal subjects, so more evidence is needed to understand these potential benefits fully.
One animal study found that Chaga supplementation reduced tumor size by 60%. Another study found that Chaga tea could prevent and slow the proliferation of human colon cancer cells. In a test-tube study, chaga extract prevented cancer growth in human liver cells. Various other studies have observed Chaga’s potential to kill other types of cancer cells, like lung, skin, colon, and prostate cancer cells.
Multiple animal studies have investigated Chaga’s impact on blood sugar, and all have confirmed that Chaga supplementation may help to lower blood sugar. In fact, Chaga was found to potentially help manage blood sugar in mice with type two diabetes. One animal study attempted to quantify these effects, suggesting that regular Chaga supplementation reduced blood sugar by about 31% on average after three weeks.
Human trials are necessary to understand how Chaga may work to help lower blood sugar in humans. However, it’s thought to augment the way that certain carbohydrates are digested to prevent them from turning into sugars.
One study found that Chaga may help reduce mice's bad cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Another study observed similar results but also found that Chaga supplementation may help increase levels of good cholesterol in mice as well. Other limited evidence suggests that Chaga could be beneficial for improving circulation and potentially preventing blood clotting (which means it may not be safe to use alongside blood thinning medications).
Chaga mushrooms are often used as an integral part of a full-spectrum wellness routine. Many prefer using it alongside other functional mushrooms and adaptogenic compounds to support well-being and healthy immune functions. Remember that chaga should not be consumed raw, so you’ll want to look for a high-quality Chaga supplement to add to your routine.
Because Chaga supplements are not regulated as strictly as pharmaceuticals in the U.S., it’s important that you look for a high-quality Chaga supplement that’s well-made and lab tested. Using the proper Chaga dosage and a high-quality supplement are the best ways to avoid Chaga side effects.
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