The Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms - Are They The Ultimate Immune Booster You've Been Looking For?

Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries by a variety of cultures with the intention to cure disease and promote overall health. In ‘The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica’, an age-old book considered as one of the founding writings of traditional Chinese medicine, chaga was named “the king of the herbs”.

But of course this begs the question of what modern science has to say about chaga mushrooms and their benefits. Read on to learn the answer to that and much more!

What is Chaga?

Chaga mushroom, dried chaga mushrooms, and chaga mushroom tea

Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch trees in northern hemisphere countries such as Canada, Russia and Korea. It is dark on the outside like burnt charcoal and bright orange underneath. [1][2] Chaga is also known as birch mushroom, chaga conk or cinder conk.[3] It has a bitter taste with a flavor similar to vanilla.[4]

What is Chaga Used for?

Chaga has been used for centuries in many parts of Asia to improve health and boost immunity.[2] It is mostly available as a herbal tea and supplement. Chaga is high in antioxidants, which are substances that prevent or slow down cell damage in the body. You can also eat chaga mushrooms as part of a healthy, balanced diet.[1]

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What Are the Benefits of Chaga?

Immune System Support

Chaga mushrooms help the body fight illness by increasing the level of cytokines, which are chemical substances that play a key role in the body’s defense against a wide range of diseases. [5]

Preventing Cancer

Chaga mushrooms contain high amounts of antioxidants which help the body reduce free radicals that cause damage to cells. Free radicals cause harmful diseases in the body such as cancer. In this way, chaga can help prevent and slow down the growth of cancer.[6]

Lowering Cholesterol

The antioxidants in chaga mushrooms may help reduce the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body. When this type of cholesterol is high, it could lead to heart disease. Chaga may also increase the level of good cholesterol in the body.[7]

Lowering Blood Sugar

There’s evidence to support that chaga can help manage diabetes, as it has been linked to reduced blood sugar levels in some research studies.[8]

How and When to Take Chaga

Chaga is traditionally ground into a fine powder and brewed as herbal tea. The tea can be taken with either warm or cold water. Chaga is also available as a supplement in capsule form.[2] Always follow instructions on the product label before using.[3]

Our popular tea that contains 19 superfoods (including chaga), NoonBrew, is perhaps the most convenient and tastiest way to consume chaga on a daily basis. Simply mix it with water, add ice, a little bit of lemon if you’re feeling fancy and you’re good to go!

Summary – Chaga is an immune-boosting mushroom

There’s ample evidence to support chaga’s ability to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. It’s generally safe to consume and has no reported side effects. Chaga and its benefits are even touted on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Herb page.[6] If you’re starting to add superfood mushrooms to your diet, chaga is not one you’re going to want to skip out on!

References

  1. Zawn Villines (2022). What are chaga mushrooms? Nutrition, benefits and risks. Medical News Today. March 16, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318527
  2. Mary Jane Brown (2018). What are chaga mushrooms and are they healthy? Healthline. October 25, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chaga-mushroom
  3. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1474/chaga
  4. Beth Czerwony (2022). Chaga mushroom health benefits. Cleveland Clinic. January 20, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/chaga-mushroom-benefits/
  5. “Immunomodulatory Effects of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharide on Splenic Lymphocytes Infected with Toxoplasma Gondii via NF-ΚB and MAPKS PATHWAYS.” Taylor & Francis, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08923973.2021.2017453.
  6. S, Lee. “Chaga Mushroom.” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/chaga-mushroom.
  7. Yang, Mo, et al. “Lipid-Lowering Effects of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharide in Vivo and in Vitro.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 12 Dec. 2021, https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/10/12/3085/htm.
  8. Wang C;Chen Z;Pan Y;Gao X;Chen H; “Anti-Diabetic Effects of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides-Chromium (III) Complex in Type 2 Diabetic Mice and Its Sub-Acute Toxicity Evaluation in Normal Mice.” Food and Chemical Toxicology : an International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28087233/.

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