6 Chaga Mushroom Benefits
Updated April 14, 2023.
Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) are a type of functional mushroom found throughout the northern hemisphere. They typically grow on birch trees and have been used as a traditional medicine for centuries. That being said, what scientific benefits do they have?
1. Chaga Mushrooms May Reduce Oxidative Stress
One of the major benefits of Chaga mushrooms is their antioxidative properties. Research found that Chaga mushroom extracts could protect cell components against free radicals and DNA damage by over 40% compared to the control group.
Many benefits come from antioxidants, such as an anti-aging effect. Accumulation of oxidative stress can contribute to the degenerative effect of aging that manifests in wrinkles and blemished skin. Reducing oxidative stress can reverse visible signs of aging dramatically. As such, the benefits of Chaga for skin health are prominent.
2. Chaga Mushrooms May Prevent and Fight Cancer
Chaga, like many other functional mushrooms, seems to exhibit cancer-fighting capabilities. Research has shown that Chaga mushroom extracts effectively slowed the progression of cancer via its incredibly high levels of polysaccharides. Additionally, the same study found that mice infected with cancer experienced a decrease in tumour size after continuous uptake of Chaga mushroom extracts.
3. Chaga Mushrooms May Reduce Inflammation
There are many reasons that inflammation might build up in the body and numerous dangers that this presents. Typically, inflammation is released due to injury, exposure to allergens that stimulate histamine production, or as a symptom of various inflammatory disorders like asthma or eczema. In the short term, inflammation can manifest as feelings of heat, pain, redness, and swelling. Left untreated, it can lead to further complications such as diabetes and arthritis.
Studies have looked at the capabilities of mushrooms in fighting inflammation and found that Chaga, as well as many other functional mushroom species, are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
Reducing inflammation throughout the body can have several additional benefits, such as:
- Reduced symptoms of inflammatory disorders.
- Reduced symptoms of allergic reactions.
- Improved immune capabilities.
4. Chaga Mushrooms May Boost Your Immune System
Two factors that contribute to a healthy immune system are reductions in oxidative stress and inflammation. However, Chaga mushrooms benefit the immune system in other ways as well.
Research has noted that Chaga mushroom extracts increased levels of interleukin 6 (IL 6) in mice. IL 6 is a protein widely understood to be beneficial for stimulating the production and differentiation of various immune cells. As such, it is reasonable to ascertain that Chaga mushrooms are highly capable of immunomodulatory effects.
It is important to note that an overactive immune system is one of the causes of various autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which is where the immune system mistakes healthy cells as dangerous and attacks them. Many believe mushrooms to have immunostimulating properties, which could aggravate the effects of those autoimmune disorders. However, emerging research has found that many functional mushroom species, Chaga included, may actually be immunomodulatory instead, suggesting that they might actually benefit autoimmune diseases.
There is still much debate on this topic, and so individuals suffering from autoimmune diseases should exercise caution and consult with a doctor before intending to use Chaga mushrooms for functional purposes.
5. Chaga Mushrooms May Help Treat Diabetes
Those at risk for, or suffering from, diabetes typically have high blood pressure, inconsistent levels of good and bad cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Although far more research is needed, there is some evidence that Chaga mushrooms exhibit hypoglycemic (lowering of blood sugar) effects in addition to a reduction of bad cholesterol.
6. Chaga Mushrooms Are Highly Nutritious
Chaga mushrooms are nutritious enough to be referred to as a superfood. Though it isn't typically eaten in cuisine like other mushrooms, mixing some Chaga mushroom powder or drops into your coffee, or brewing some Chaga tea, will bring out all the benefits of this functional fungus.
A further benefit from the vitamins and minerals found in Chaga is that they appear to boost testosterone levels, which could improve stamina and endurance as well as libido.
Should You Use Chaga or Other functional Mushrooms?
The final decision on which functional mushroom you should incorporate into your life should depend on the specific benefits you want to obtain since all mushrooms present slightly different advantages. Consider utilising multiple functional mushrooms as this might compound the benefits, but exercise caution for potential side effects, and stay clear of mushrooms entirely if you have a mould or fungal allergy.