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Can Chaga Fight Against Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:

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Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

This article is for informational purposes only. The current coronavirus outbreak is an ongoing event, and details may change as new information comes to light. No adequate or FDA-approved products are yet available to treat or prevent COVID-19 infection.

Anti Infection Potential

In cells, chaga mushroom extract inhibited the following viruses:

  • Hepatitis C [1]
  • Oral herpes [2, 3]
  • Epstein-Barr [4]
  • HIV [5]
  • Viral diseases in cats and mice [6, 7]

Like all natural herbs, Chaga has antimicrobial action, but as of  April 2020, there’s no studies on specific action against coronaviruses. 

Immune Stimulation

In chicken, chaga mushroom fermentation products enhanced the effectiveness of a vaccine against Newcastle disease by increasing the production of antibodies, T lymphocytes, as well as the ratio of Th1/Th2 [8].

Chaga extract increased the production of IL-6 and lymphocyte B cells in mice. In white blood cells (macrophages), it increased the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) [9, 10].

Its ethanol extract reduced the levels of IL-4 and increased IFN-y levels by promoting the Th1 response while inhibiting the allergy-promoting Th2 response [11].

Reducing Inflammation

Inflammation can be problematic in a cytokine storm that results in respiratory distress. However, there isn’t any information in humans to know if Chaga would be beneficial for this. Still, it does have some anti-inflammatory potential.

Compounds found in chaga mushroom helped the immune system of mice differentiate between the body’s cells and foreign cells, potentially increasing the accuracy of its response and reducing the risk of autoimmunity [12].

Chaga extract also reduced immune hypersensitivity in mice and reduced the risk of shock from severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) [13].

Chaga may reduce inflammation by blocking an over-activated immune response [13].

Its extract reduced pro-inflammatory pathways (NF-kB) and messengers (nitric oxide and PGE2) in rats and decreased the response to pain [14].

Chaga also reduced inflammation in mice with IBD by suppressing cytokines (TNF-alpha and IL-1beta) and messengers (nitric oxide) [15].

In mice and cells, chaga extract lowered NF-kappaB binding activity. This may reduce inflammatory pain by blocking the effects of enzymes such as nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). In fact, inhibition of COX-2 is the mechanism by which traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, reduce pain and swelling [1416].

The WHO recommends against using COX2 inhibitors like ibuprofen for COVID-19.

Anti-Diabetic Potential

Diabetes is a risk factor for complications in COVID-19. 

In diabetic mice, chaga extract significantly decreased blood glucoseinsulin, and fat levels. This may help prevent both diabetes and its complications [17].

is a molecule that decreases insulin resistance by improving insulin signaling and energy metabolism [18].

In fat cells, chaga extract increased PPARγ expression. This may decrease insulin resistance, since this protein improves insulin signaling and energy metabolism [19].

Increasing PPARγ activity in fat tissues may also reduce weight gain, as seen in a study in obese rats [20].

Chaga extract may also slow carbohydrate absorption by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars (alpha-glucosidase), thus reducing blood glucose spikes [21].

Oxidative stress contributes to insulin resistance and accelerates diabetic complications. Chaga’s antioxidant properties can reduce oxidative damage [17].

The anti-diabetic effects of chaga may increase if used in combination with vanadium. This was the case in a study in diabetic mice [22].

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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