Chaga mushroom helps boost immune system function and fight inflammation. It also has antioxidant properties and helps improve diabetic health. Keep reading below to learn more about its health benefits.
- The Chaga that I Recommend
- Health Benefits of Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a type of fungus and is commonly known as a medicinal mushroom (R).
The mushroom has two distinguishable parts, the sclerotium and fruiting body (R).
It has many therapeutic effects – it can help increase immune system function, stop inflammation, and fight tumors (R).
In experiments, scientists use either hot aqueous (water) or ethanol extracts of Chaga mushroom. To make aqueous extracts, scientists heat finely grounded Chaga mushroom powder with water, then centrifuge and filter it. For ethanol extracts, the hot aqueous extract is extracted in ethanol and then centrifuged and filtered (R).
Unfortunately, there are limited quantities of Chaga mushroom available in their natural habitat, and artificial production is difficult. Still, current studies show that cultivated Chaga may eventually become an ideal substitute for the wild Chaga (R, R).
One recent study found that Chaga grown on germinated brown rice has enhanced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on mice cells. This new technique can be a beneficial and cost-effective alternative to using wild Chaga (R).
The Chaga that I Recommend
Health Benefits of Chaga Mushroom
1) Chaga has Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative damage to DNA can cause cancer, reduce lifespan, and make your overall health decline (R).
Chaga is used in Japan, Russia, and Eastern Europe for its antioxidant effects (R).
Its phenolic compounds are the active components inhibiting oxidative DNA damage. They can scavenge (combine with and remove) superoxide anions, DPPH and hydroxyl radicals (R).
Gamma irradiation is a method used to eliminating pathogens from food. It can increase the antioxidant properties of foods and natural extracts without any side effects (R).
Irradiation increases Chaga extract’s scavenging activity, its total phenolic compound levels, and overall antioxidant activities (R).
2) Chaga Suppresses Cancer Progression
Extracts of Chaga have demonstrated potent anti-tumor activity.
Chaga extract inhibits the growth and DNA synthesis of human colon cancer cells (HT-29) (R).
Chaga water extract selectively and significantly inhibited human hepatoma (liver cancer) HepG2 cancer cell viability. It causes cell cycle arrest at the G0 /G1 phase (R).
During the G1-phase arrest of the cell cycle, cells either undergo repair mechanisms or proceed to the apoptotic (programmed cell death) pathway. Cdk activities control the transition to G1/S phase in cells. Chaga extract significantly decreases the expression of different Cdks and stops cell growth (R).
Treatment with Chaga water extract can then induce the cells to undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death), thus preventing tumor growth (R).
In mice with implanted lung cancer cells, continuous intake of Chaga extract slowed tumor progression. After sixteen days of Chaga intake, the average tumor size was 60% smaller than the control group’s tumors (R).
Continuous Chaga extract intake also suppressed metastasis (the spread of cancer to other parts of the body) in the mice (R).
However, the phenolic compounds isolated from Chaga methanol extracts have greater cancer cell toxicity than the Chaga water extracts themselves (R).
3) Chaga Mushroom Helps Protect the Immune System
Polysaccharides isolated from Chaga mushroom are used as immune-boosting agents (R).
Chaga extracts can also protect against allergens. It suppressed anaphylactic shock (a possibly fatal allergic reaction) in mice. It also lowered their total IgE levels, which stops immune system hypersensitivity (R).
Both hot water and ethanol extracts of Chaga are able to kill bacterial and fungal cells in cell culture. They also stopped quorum sensing, which is a method that bacteria cells use to activate gene expression. Anti-quorum sensing can help fight against bacterial infection (R).
Chaga mushroom also has anti-viral activities and can help prevent viral infections from occurring (R).
Chaga hot water extract prevents herpes virus entry in Vero (monkey kidney) cells (R).
Chemical compounds isolated from Chaga also inhibited the Epstein-Barr virus (a human herpes virus) in mice cells (R).
4) Chaga Reduces Inflammation
Chaga methanol extract is a potent inhibitor of inflammatory cytokines in mice cells. Chaga hot water extract also reduced pain and inflammation in mice after oral administration (R).
In mice, Chaga water extract significantly inhibited mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in colon tissues. These results suggest that Chaga mushroom may help treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (R).
5) Chaga Can Improve Diabetic Health
In diabetic mice, Chaga ethanol extract significantly decreased blood glucose levels. Additionally, the ethanol extract decreased free fatty acids, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol in the blood (R).
In mice fat cells, Chaga water extract increased PPARγ transcriptional activity and helped with fat cell differentiation. This decreased insulin resistance, making it a possible treatment for diabetes (R).
The anti-diabetic effects of Chaga increases if used in combination with vanadium. In diabetic mice, Chaga extract combined with vanadium decreased blood glucose levels more than Chaga extract by itself (R).
6) Chaga Increases Endurance
Additionally, a lack of energy can decrease endurance capacity. High glycogen content helps prevent fatigue. Mice treated with Chaga had higher glycogen levels in the muscles and liver than mice in the control group (R).
7) Chaga Protects Against Dangerous Blood Clots
Platelet aggregation occurs when platelets (blood cells) clump together in the blood and form clots. Sometimes, platelet aggregation can cause blood clots in veins (thrombus), which can eventually lead to heart attacks or strokes (R).
People with auto-immune diseases should avoid using Chaga because it can cause the immune system to become more active. This can increase the symptoms of some diseases (R).
In one case study, an elderly Japanese woman had oxalate nephropathy after six months daily consumption of Chaga powder. Oxalate nephropathy is a condition where excess levels of oxalate can cause kidney failure. Chaga mushrooms contain extremely high oxalate concentrations, so excess consumption can cause kidney damage (R, R).
Additionally, sclerotium parts of Chaga appeared to have stronger cytotoxic effects against normal cells than cancer cells. This can cause healthy cells to die (R).
Most of the laboratory studies have either been done in human cell culture or animals. More clinical trials are needed to confirm Chaga’s safety and effectiveness (R).
- Chaga decreases p53, pRb, p27, cyclins D1, D2, E, cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) 2, Cdk4, and Cdk6 expression (R).
- The phenolic compounds benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, syingol and vanillic acid are able to scavenge (combine with and remove) all tested free radicals (R).
- Chaga methanol extract is a potent inhibitor of NO, PGE2 and TNF-a production. This inhibition is caused by preventing NF-B activation in murine (mice) macrophages (R).
- Chaga water extract suppressed edema, mucosal damage, and the loss of crypts induced by dextran sulfate sodium in mice (R).
- Ethyl acetate fraction of methanol extract from I. obliquus showed effective hypoglycaemic activity in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. The major components are lanosterol, 3β-hydroxy-lanosta-8, 24-diene-21-al, inotodiol, ergosterol peroxide and trametenolic acid (R).