Have you started adding mushrooms, as a supplement, in your daily routine? So many people are starting to do this! I first heard about all the interesting types of mushrooms, and their benefits, from Paul Stamets. If you are a fan of Joe Rogan, check Paul out here. He talks about the benefits and uses for mushrooms and also matcha! I love trying new supplements, and the Chaga was next on my list.
What Is a Chaga Mushroom?
The chaga mushroom has a beautiful rusty color on the inside, and on the outside, it resembles a piece of coal.
Chaga mushrooms have a few nick-names, such as “king of medicinal mushrooms”, “gift from God,” and “king of herbs.” They typically grow in cooler climates, and can be found growing in Northern US, Canada, Russia, Northern Europe, Siberia, and parts of Asia. Medicinal mushrooms have been growing in these areas for centuries!
The cool thing about the growing movement for medicinal mushrooms, is the boost in amazing products we are seeing on the market! Mushroom supplements can be found in powder form, elixir style, and even in coffee! Studies are backing these claims, and people are loving the benefits from these mushrooms.
Many ancient cultures used chaga mushrooms to:
calm upset stomach and ulcers
detox the body
promote clarity of thinking
boost the immune system
Chaga also supports the immune system. But how does it work?
Chaga mushrooms contain polysaccharides, which are “biological response modulators.” This is so cool… it means that they have the ability to boost or suppress the immune system, based on what the organism needs! Research published in Mycobiology also found that consuming chaga increases production of immune cells such as T-cells in animal studies.
A 2005 review (including human studies) found that chaga mushrooms are a potent immune booster without negative side effects. It also confirmed chaga can reduce inflammation, improve immune cell production, and enhance overall immune function.
The effect that chaga has on tumors is profound. One 2016 study found that tumors shrank by 60 percent when using chaga extract on mice. In metastatic mice (mice with tumors that moved from their original location to other locations in the body), tumors shrank by 25 percent!
Phytosterols and the polysaccharide beta-glucan, found in chaga mushrooms, affect cancer cells in the following ways:
may stop tumors from forming blood cells
stop formation of tumors by protecting against potent genotoxic carcinogens
stimulate the immune system to fight cancer naturally
improve macrophages (a form of white blood cell) and natural killer cell function
Chaga is a powerhouse of important nutrients. Look at this impressive list:
Our immune system is built to fight viruses. Improving the system can improve the body’s ability to fight these viruses.
There have been studies related to herpes and HIV, and the positive effects look promising!
Another study concluded it was able to reduce infection of the hepatitis C virus by 100 times (in only 10 minutes!)
As chaga mushrooms grow, they absorb a compound called betulin from the birch tree. Betulin is not digestible straight from the birch tree, so the mushroom converts it to a digestible form!
Research shows that betulin lowers cholesterol, helps prevent obesity, and improves insulin sensitivity in mice. In fact, researchers discovered that betulin was as effective or more effective than cholesterol-lowering drugs.
HOW TO USE CHAGA MUSHROOMS?
Obviously, these sound like a powerful superfood! How do you add them to your diet?
The most common way to take chaga is in a tea or tincture. You can use whole chaga, and even make your own powder, but I recommend finding a cool supplement or drink!
Check out these awesome chaga mushroom products.
(P.S. If you’re afraid of a mushroom-y taste, don’t be… I promise you won’t even know it’s there!)
Chaga Precautions & Potential Side Effects
While it’s been used for centuries safely and effectively, there are some side effects and precautions to consider:
It may interact with medications and may reduce blood clotting (not good for surgery!)
It may lower blood sugar (good for some, not good for others)
Chaga may not be great for those with autoimmune disease because it boosts the immune system. However, as noted earlier, it is an immune modulator so would lower an immune response in this case.
As always, discuss with your doctor whether taking chaga mushrooms is right for you (especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have any underlying health issues).
Have you tried any medicinal mushrooms? What has been your experience, I would love to hear from you!