March 15, 2022 4 min read

Chaga is a buzz-worthy functional mushroom making its way onto café menus and into wellness blends across the world. 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:

Key Benefits

Research is still limited, but some of the primary benefits of Chaga may include:

  • Nutritional support
  • Immune support
  • Preventing aging
  • Improved blood sugar regulation
  • Heart health support

Let’s dig into the research available. Here are 8 research-backed Chaga benefits you should know:

1. Chaga is a great nutritional supplement.

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:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Rubidium
  • Cesium
  • Amino acids
  • Fiber
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Beta-glucans
  • Terpenoids

All high-quality Chaga supplements may provide these nutritional benefits, but many people enjoy Chaga tea as part of a healthy diet.

Chaga tea brewed strong to provide full chaga benefits as part of a healthy diet

2. Chaga may boost the immune system.

A 2005 study found that Chaga may stimulate the production of beneficial cytokines, a protein that regulates immune function. In turn, 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 be able to 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.

3. Chaga is an antioxidant powerhouse.

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. Plus, free radical damage may also lead to tissue damage over time, which may be the reason that our cognitive functions deteriorate over time.

Chaga's high antioxidant content is often credited for its potential to kill cancer cells. Specifically, Chaga contains large amounts of triterpene, an antioxidant that’s thought to help kill cancer cells.

4. It could reduce inflammation.

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 a multitude of beneficial uses. One study found that, in addition to providing anti-inflammatory effects, Chaga also helped to fight off harmful bacteria.

5. It may slow signs of aging.

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 that are damaged by outside sources, like pathogens, sunlight, or free radicals.

6. It could have anti-cancer benefits.

Some evidence suggests that Chaga may have some anti-cancer effects that could potentially prevent or manage various types of cancer. Currently, all studies involve test-tube samples or animal subjects, so more evidence is needed to fully understand these potential benefits.

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 the growth of cancer 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.

A blood sugar monitor used to evaluate the effects of potential chaga benefits for stabilizing blood sugar.

7. Chaga may help stabilize blood sugar.

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 studyattempted 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, although it’s thought to augment the way that certain carbohydrates are digested to prevent them from turning into sugars.

8. It may improve heart health.

One study found that Chaga may help reduce bad cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in mice. 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 may potentially prevent blood clotting (which means it may not be safe to use alongside blood thinning medications).

Conclusion

Chaga mushrooms are often used as an integral part of a full spectrum wellness routine, and many people prefer to use it alongside other functional mushrooms and adaptogenic compounds to support overall wellbeing and healthy immune functions. Keep in mind 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

Resources

  1. “Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15588653/
  2. “Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/
  3. “Orally administered aqueous extract of Inonotus obliquus ameliorates acute inflammation in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22819687/
  4. “Chemical constituents from Inonotus obliquus and their antitumor activities” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27180084/
  5. “Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946216/
  6. “Antitumor activity of water extract of a mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, against HT-29 human colon cancer cells” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19367670/
  7. “Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18434051/
  8. “Effect of the Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on Blood Lipid Metabolism and Oxidative Stress of Rats Fed High-Fat Diet In Vivo” https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5305591
  9. “Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28954386/

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