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Chaga Mushroom benefits

In most health and wellness circles, the Chaga Mushroom is known as a fungi-based remedy with one of the most diverse health benefits. It may not be as famous as many remedies out there, but its reputation as a powerful natural form of treatment, is big.

Chaga Mushroom
Chaga Mushroom on a birch tree.

Its legacy spans as far back as the 16th century. In this article we will take a closer look at this seemingly mysterious mushroom, and the many benefits it can bring to the body.

What is the Chaga Mushroom?

The Chaga Mushroom is a type of fungus, relying on living birch trees to grow. It is often seen growing out of the side of the bark, and is always dark brown in color. The process of its growth occurs on the following stages:

  1. It begins as a spore within the heartwood of the birch tree, unseen from the outside. It then nests and begins to spread throughout the wood.
  2. As the fungus spreads within the heartwood, it begins to push the growth outwards, towards the outer part of the birch tree.
  3. As it begins to manifest on the bark, the fungus actively pushes the bark aside so that it can protrude. This is where the first traces begin to show, and can be seen within the bark.
  4. As it matures, the Chaga Mushroom becomes more prominent on the side of the birch tree, akin to a canker within its surface. The growth appears to be a woody growth referred to as a “conk”. This this is what is harvested to make a variety of medicinal remedies.

The reason why the Chaga Mushroom is thought to be so potent is because of the fact that it takes such a long time to grow to maturity. By the time it does, it is more concentrated compared to many other medicinal mushrooms, and therefore more powerful.

History of the Chaga Mushroom

Chaga Tea
Chaga Tea is a well-known home remedy in Russia, since Ancient times.

One of the earliest documentations of the use of Chaga was by the Khanty people, a community that was indigenous to Siberia in Russia.

Finland is the other known region of the northern hemisphere where the Chaga Mushroom was widely used by the indigenous people.

In the 12th century, the prince of the Kievan Rus Tzar Vladimir Monomakh had a bad case of lip tumors that he claimed disappeared thanks to a prepared decoction of the Chaga Mushroom. This led to its even more widespread use for its many medicinal properties, leading to its popularity spreading across the world.

By the 16th century, the Chaga Mushroom was hailed as the ‘King of medicinal mushrooms’ in the Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao Ching, a famous Chinese book on agriculture and medicine. By this time, the Chaga Mushroom was now a renowned herbal medicine in many parts of Asia.

Over the years, the Chaga Mushroom has been researched and found to have numerous health benefits. Today, it is mostly found growing on birch trees in very cold parts of the northern hemisphere such as Northern and Eastern Europe, Canada and parts of Asia such as Korea.

It is available in many forms, most notably Chaga Tea, which is usually brewed and drank for the medicinal benefits that it brings.

What nutrients does the Chaga Mushroom contain?

Chaga teaThe Chaga Mushroom is referred to as the ‘King of Medicinal Mushrooms’ for a very good reason. It is because it contains such a wide collection of nutrients, each with a unique contribution to make to the overall health of the body.

Chaga Mushroom contains more than 200 different kinds of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are specific kinds of nutrients that are believed to be beneficial to human health. Some of them include Betulinic acid that has been found to shrink tumors, sterols, and tripeptides among many more.

Rich in riboflavin, a vitamin that is essential to the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. Riboflavin also promotes overall healthy growth of the body.

The Chaga Mushroom is also loaded with Niacin or Vitamin B3, which is well known to promote health by improving cholesterol levels and boosting brain functions.

Chaga Mushrooms contain vitamin D, a lot of fiber. It is a potent source of numerous minerals such as:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Ribidium
  • Copper
  • Germanium
  • Cesium

What are the health benefits of the Chaga Mushroom?

Such a healthy collection of nutrients comes with a myriad of advantageous applications. These are all centered on overall health and wellbeing while also focusing on helping the body fight some possibly life threatening diseases.

Chaga Mushroom is a very powerful antioxidant

Oxidative stress is a side effect of the body’s natural metabolic activities, with unfortunate effects on the body such as cellular damage. Antioxidants are substances that counter this oxidative stress, preventing the damage that it would inflict on the body otherwise.

Chaga Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants that promote all kinds of health benefits by combating oxidative stress.

Strong anti-aging super food

Chaga Mushroom used as TeaOne of the most visible signs of oxidative stress is often seen on the skin, as free radicals (a product of oxidative stress) wreak havoc on the skin tissue; damaging the cells and weakening the supportive structure that is collagen.

The result is wrinkled, weak and sagging skin that looks visibly aged.

Chaga Mushrooms contain some of the highest contents of antioxidants among many natural foods out there.

They are a rich source of superoxide dismutase, a potent antioxidant that literally stops the process of oxidation in its tracks. This leaves you with smooth, healthy and young-looking skin.

Promoting heart health

The antioxidants contained in Chaga Mushrooms can also play an important role in helping you lower your cholesterol. This is in reference to the bad cholesterol (Low Density Lipoproteins) in the body, since good cholesterol (High Density Lipoproteins) also exists.

These mushrooms also contain Betulinic acid, a special antioxidant that helps to reduce the bad cholesterol content in the body by breaking it down.

By reducing bad cholesterol in the body, Chaga Mushrooms help in improving the overall health of the heart. High levels of bad cholesterol increase the risk of developing cardiovascular problems like heart disease. So the benefits of these mushrooms are very much welcome.

Managing blood pressure

Oxidative stress can prove detrimental to the body, being a risk factor for the development of high blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences in 2014 linked oxidative stress as a precursor to hypertension. This is a potentially fatal condition involving high blood pressure that could lead to heart attacks and strokes which could even result in death.

The antioxidants in Chaga Mushrooms thankfully stop oxidative stress before it does any more damage, helping to lower the body’s overall blood pressure to normal levels.

Cancer treatment

The free radicals that are produced as a result of oxidative stress have been linked to the development of cancer in many studies. Cancerous cells proliferate in the presence of these reactive oxygen species or radicals. It makes sense therefore that strong antioxidants could prove useful in stopping the spread of cancer.

An interesting study published in the Journal of Nutrition Research and Practice in 2010 found that Chaga was able to slow down the growth of different cancer types in mice. The potential of Chaga Mushroom in cancer treatment is great and further research continues to make it more effective in battles against this life threatening disease.

Chaga Muhsroom has amazing anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury or the invasion of foreign bodies. It is meant to be a natural short term defensive reaction, but it can be dangerous when it grows to become chronic. In such cases, there is a need for good anti-inflammatories within the body to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Chaga Mushrooms have amazing anti-inflammatory qualities that help to soothe and heal the body in many instances.

Chaga Mushroom strengthening and healing from adrenal fatigue

Chaga MushroomAdrenal fatigue is a collection of symptoms that occur as a result of unbalanced adrenal glands. These include lack of sleep, aches and pains, hair loss and many others. The adrenal gland is responsible for producing the hormone cortisol, which helps to manage the stress levels of the body.

Adrenal fatigue is a situation where your adrenal glands are either producing too much or too little of the hormone cortisol. This creates an imbalance that leads to difficulty in producing other equally important hormones in the body.

Chaga Mushrooms are able to restore this balance by soothing the adrenal glands with their anti-inflammatory properties. This allows them to heal and restores the balance to hormone production. The symptoms that accompanied this fatigue are relieved as well.

Chaga Mushroom as Treatment for arthritis

Arthritis is a disease that is most notably known for causing stiffness and inflammation in the joints that can be quite painful. While there is no cure for most types of arthritis, the symptoms of the disease can be significantly reduced with a strong anti-inflammatory.

Chaga Mushrooms’ potent anti-inflammatory qualities make them ideal for helping reduce the inflammation, which reduces pain significantly.

These mushrooms also contain Niacin, a potent vitamin that helps to reduce the symptoms of arthritis by improving the mobility of stiffened joints. They can be a viable treatment for anybody coping with arthritis, allowing them to live more comfortably.

Chaga Tea is ideal for asthma treatment

Asthma is a condition in which an individual’s airways become inflamed, blocking the passage of air. This is why a person can’t breathe when they’re having an asthma attack. Most asthma medications contain some form of anti-inflammatory that reduces this inflammation, and so do Chaga Mushrooms.

They will keep your airways open, reducing the chances of an asthma attack by actively preventing any inflammation.

Chaga Mushroom can boost the immune system

The immune system is the body’s natural defense against diseases. Cytokines are a type of protein that the immune system uses as messengers. They are signaling proteins that the immune system needs to effectively protect the body by having the cells be better able to communicate with each other. The presence of cytokines keeps the immune system functioning optimally, but sometimes cytokine production can dwindle.

A recent study published in the Journal of Ethno-pharmacology found that extracts from Chaga Mushrooms are able to support the immune system by modulating the production of cytokines. This is the boost that your immune system needs to keep your body protected at all times.

Chaga Muhsroom can help you lose weight

Did you know that Chaga Mushrooms may have a role to play in helping to fight obesity? A recent study published in the Heliyon Journal found that the intake of these mushrooms improved insulin sensitivity in mice. This prevents excessive storage of glucose as fat in the body, which prevents excessive weight gain. It also enhances fat metabolism, allowing the body to better burn off fat.

These wonder mushrooms may be the answer to the weight management problems that plague so many.

Fighting diabetes

As mentioned before, Chaga Mushrooms have been found by studies to promote insulin sensitivity, which keeps blood sugar from rising. This factor makes it perfect for helping people living with diabetes, preventing high blood sugar levels that could be detrimental to their overall health.

Improving gut health

Chaga Tea as AntioxidansDid you know that there is an entire ecosystem of bacteria residing in your gut?

Not all bacteria are bad for you, the good bacterial in your gut actually aid in the digestion and absorption of food among many other things.

The increased presence of good gut bacteria prevents the growth and spread of bad bacteria, maintaining a balance that keeps you healthy.

Good gut bacteria feed on fiber to stay alive, and Chaga Mushrooms contain a lot of fiber. Therefore having Chaga mushroom in your diet keeps you healthy.

Chaga Mushroom harvesting

So how exactly are Chaga Mushrooms grown and harvested?

Originally, Chaga Mushrooms have been growing naturally in birch trees. This continues to happen to this day, with minimal human interference. However, thanks to the wonders of science and technology, it is now possible for specialists to cultivate and eventually harvest them.

  1. In a specialized laboratory, Mycelium is grown to become the spores that will grow to be the mushrooms.
  2. When the Mycelium is ready, it is implanted into an already grown birch.
  3. The implanted spores begin to grow as usual; becoming burls that develop for 5 to 6 years until the Chaga Mushrooms become fully matured.
  4. The matured burls are harvested successfully.

As is the case with anything man made, these mushrooms are not completely similar to the kind that grow wildly without any human interference.

Wild Chaga Mushrooms are often times much more potent compared to the cultivated kinds, sporting more nutrients in their natural growing states. It is for this reason that, if possible, you should try and consume wild Chaga instead as a preference.

In what way Chaga Mushroom is consumed?

Chaga Mushroom have always been ingested as a form of drink such as the decoction that Tzar Vladimir Monomakh received. Over the years, it has become popular when drunk in teas. The Chaga Mushroom is often available in raw chunks, or Chaga Mushroom powder.

How to make Chaga Tea?

Making Chaga Tea is a simple process if you have all the right ingredients. For one pot you will need:

  • 4 cups of drinking water
  • 1 to 3 chunks of Chaga Mushroom or powder
  • A sweetener (this is optional)
  • A tea pot

Preparation

  1. Begin by placing Chaga Mushroom pieces or powder in the pot and adding the water.
  2. In medium heat, heat up the pot until the mixture it starts to boil. Then turn it to low and let it simmer for half an hour.
  3. Strain the mixture to remove the Chaga chunks. This should leave you with a brown Chaga Tea.
  4. Add the sweetener if you like or just serve as it is. Enjoy!

Chaga chunks an TeaAs a single product, Chaga Mushroom is just what the body needs to restore its natural balance.

Chaga is a potent adaptogen that brings the body back to its healthy state, allowing so many people to once again live normal happy lives.

 

 

References

1 Dr. Satoru Arata, Jun Watanabe, Masako Maeda et al., (2016): “Continuous intake of the Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice”. 

2 Dr. Cha, J.Y., Jun, B.S., Kim, J.W. et al., (2006): “Hypoglycemic Effects of Fermented Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) in the Diabetic Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) Rat”. Retrieved from 

3 Dr. Suk-kyung Ko Mirim Jin Myoung-yun Pyo, (2011): “Inonotus obliquus extracts suppress antigen-specific IgE production through the modulation of Th1/Th2 cytokines in ovalbumin-sensitized mice”. 

4 Dr. Sung Hak Lee, Hee Sun Hwang, Jong Won Yun, (2009): “Antitumor activity of water extract of Chaga Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, against HT‐29 human colon cancer cells”. 

5 Dr. Lemieszek MK, Langner E, Kaczor J et al., (2011): “Anticancer effects of fraction isolated from fruiting bodies of Chaga Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Pers.:Fr.) Pilát (Aphyllophoromycetideae): in vitro studies.” 

6 Dr. Dong Pil Won, Jong Seok Lee, Duck Soo Kwon et al., (2011): “Immunostimulating Activity by Polysaccharides Isolated from Fruiting Body of Inonotus obliquus”. 

7 Dr. Mitrofanov VA, Ovchinnikova NM, Belova SV et al., (2005): “Inflammatory degeneration of joint tissue in adjuvant arthritis after intraarticular treatment with the mixture of silver drug and nicotinic acid.” 

8 Dr. Jonas WB, Rapoza CP, Blair WF, (1996): “The effect of niacinamide on osteoarthritis: a pilot study.” 

9 Dr. Azar Baradaran (2014): “Oxidative stress and hypertension: Possibility of hypertension therapy with antioxidants”. 

10 Dr. Venus Sosa, Teresa Moliné, Rosa Somoza et al., (2012): “Oxidative stress and cancer: An overview”. 

11 Dr. Terry D. Oberley, (2002): “Oxidative Damage and Cancer”.  

12 Dr. Mi Ja Chung, Cha-Kwon Chung, Yoonhwa Jeong et al., (2010): “Anticancer activity of subfractions containing pure compounds of Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extract in human cancer cells and in Balbc/c mice bearing Sarcoma-180 cells”. 

13 Dr. Muthukumaran Jayachandran, Jianbo Xiao, Baojun Xu et al., (2017): “A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota”. 

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