What are Chaga mushrooms good for?
Chaga is believed to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential alternative remedy for things like arthritis and high blood pressure. It may also help lower blood sugar and even slow the progression of cancer cells.
How does Chaga make you feel?
Chaga mushrooms do not make you feel high. However, you may find that you feel less anxious and irritable after taking them. Chaga may also make you feel more energized, as adaptogenic mushrooms tend to balance an overactive HPA Axis, improve adrenal function, and support a healthy immune response. Chaga in particular is studied to support healthy immune function and inhibit an exaggerated immune response, which is characterized by fatigue, poor sleep, poor appetite, and depressed mood.
Does Chaga have side effects?
Because Chaga helps with lowering blood sugar, consuming it may cause hypoglycemia, or a serious drop in blood sugar. Chaga may also interfere with blood clotting. Therefore, those who take insulin, have diabetes, or suffer from bleeding disorders should speak to their healthcare provider, and anyone taking blood thinning medication should use it with caution.
Will taking Chaga improve my mood?
It depends. Substances involved in the inflammatory response, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines, are linked to depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. In fact, higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines are associated with the severity of psychiatric symptoms. A prolonged inflammatory response, whether to physical or psychological stress, thus leads to imbalances in vital brain chemistry that can lead to mood and anxiety disorders. Chaga is studied to inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines and module the immune response, which helps improve mood, reduce fatigue, and support healthy sleep.
Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries in Siberia, Northern European countries, and parts of Asia as a medicine to improve immune function and overall health.
In particular, the Chinese were among the first to recognize the importance of Chaga. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) saw it as an integral part of balancing the body’s energy and warding off disease, an observation that holds true to the present day as researchers investigate the properties of this mushroom.
It has also been used to treat diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.
Traditionally, Chaga was grated into a fine powder and brewed as an herbal tea.
Nowadays, it’s not only available as a tea but also as a powdered or capsuled supplement — alone or in combination with other mushrooms, such as Cordyceps. For example, our Immune Stack is formulated Chaga with Cordyceps, Psilocybin mushrooms, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and Vitamin B3 for synergistic cellular care.
While research on Chaga's benefits is still in its infancy, early clinical results so far appear to validate the wisdom of traditional medicinal practice.
That said, they’re low in calories, very high in fiber, and loaded with antioxidants.
This article examines the uses, benefits, and potential side effects of Chaga mushrooms.
Chaga's nutritional profile.
Chaga is dripping with nutrients that can boost your health, including a broad spectrum antioxidant complex and:
- B-complex vitamins
- Vitamin D
- Amino acids
If you're interested in introducing Chaga's nutrient-rich profile to your personal care regimen, you can find it in our Immune Stack.
A clinical summary of Chaga's health benefits.
In animal models, Chaga displayed anti-allergic, cognition-enhancing, and antioxidant activities; as well as anti-inflammatory effects against experimental colitis. Oral administration of polysaccharides from Chaga was found to increase exercise endurance and biological measures related to fatigue. Chaga may also have antidiabetic effects.
In addition, Chaga extracts and its constituents exerted inhibitory and pro-apoptotic effects against colon, lung, and liver cancer cells. Inotodiol in Chaga exerted antitumor effects against cervical cancer cells. In some studies, Chaga demonstrated selective apoptosis in tumor cells with no effects on healthy cells. In animal models, it inhibited melanoma cell growth. But no clinical trials have assessed Chaga’s safety nor efficacy for disease prevention or for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.
A deeper dive into Chaga's health benefits.
Chaga is believed to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential alternative remedy for concerns like arthritis and high blood pressure. It may also help lower blood sugar, and even slow the progression of cancer cells.
Though research is ongoing, some scientific studies indicate that Chaga extract may provide certain health benefits.
Improves Immune Function and Fights Inflammation
Your immune system is made up of two parts:
- Innate immunity, which is general, non-specific, and is your first line of defense against stress — physical and psychological.
- Adaptive immunity, which is specialized, builds up over time, and can take days or even weeks to develop on first encounter with a threat.
When you're stressed or your body detects a threat to its survival, your innate immunity triggers inflammation as your first line of defense. At the same time, your Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis triggers cortisol, your stress hormone, to help regulate inflammation, balance energy, and enhance cognition.
These processes help regulate homeostasis, allowing your body to accommodate the fluctuations in its internal environment during the adaptive and inflammatory response to stressors.
However, continued exposure to stress and long-term inflammation is linked to a number of chronic conditions, like cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, postpartum depression, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease.
It can also perpetuate cortisol dysfunction, immune dysregulation, and widespread inflammation, impacting your mood, brain, hormones, skin, gut, sleep, and immunity.
Chaga helps to balance an exaggerated immune response and the pro-inflammatory stress response by promoting healthy inflammation, inhibiting harmful inflammation, and stimulating white blood cell production to fight infection.
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that Chaga extract can positively impact immunity by reducing long-term inflammation and fighting harmful bacteria and viruses.
By promoting the formation of beneficial cytokines — specialized proteins that regulate the immune system — Chaga stimulates white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off harmful bacteria or viruses.
As a result, this mushroom could help fight infections — from minor colds to serious illnesses.
For example, in a study on mice, Chaga extract reduced inflammation and gut damage by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines.
Prevents and Fights Cancer
Animal and test-tube studies show that Chaga can prevent and slow cancer growth.
In a study of mice with cancer, Chaga supplements resulted in a 60% reduction in tumor size.
Studies indicate that the anticancer effect of Chaga is partly due to its high content of antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by free radicals .
In particular, Chaga contains the antioxidant triterpene. Test-tube studies reveal that very concentrated triterpene extract can help kill cancer cells.
Keep in mind that human studies are needed in order to make strong conclusions about Chaga's anticancer potential.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Several animal studies link Chaga to decreased blood sugar levels. Therefore, it may help manage diabetes.
A recent study on obese, diabetic mice observed that Chaga extract reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance compared to diabetic mice who did not receive the supplement.
In another study on diabetic mice, Chaga supplements led to a 31% decrease in blood sugar levels over three weeks.
However, as human research is unavailable, it’s unclear whether Chaga can help manage diabetes in humans.
Chaga extract may also benefit cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of heart disease.
In an eight-week study on rats with high cholesterol, Chaga extract reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing antioxidant levels.
Researchers believe that the antioxidants present in Chaga are responsible for its effects on cholesterol.
Again, more research in humans is needed to clearly understand Chaga’s cholesterol impact.
Safety and risks.
Chaga is generally well-tolerated. However, no human studies have been conducted to determine its safety or appropriate dosage.
However, Chaga can interact with some common medications, causing potentially harmful effects.
For example, Chaga could pose risks for people on insulin or those with diabetes due to its impact on blood sugar.
Chaga also contains a protein that may prevent blood clotting. Therefore, if you are on blood-thinning medications, have a bleeding disorder, or are preparing for surgery, consult with your doctor before taking Chaga.