Nutrition

Chaga Mushroom Benefits: Can It Lower Cholesterol?

Here's a question: What is chaga good for on your healing journey? It can help ease inflammation. And chaga mushroom benefits conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

SUMMARY

What is chaga good for when it comes to health and healing? This medicinal mushroom can help reduce inflammation in the body. Also, chaga mushroom benefits cancer treatment and prevention, and it supports healthy cholesterol levels.  

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Medicinal mushrooms are revered in Eastern healing practices for their ability to foster wellness.  

Chaga mushroom falls within this category. It’s been called a superfood mushroom. For centuries, it’s been used throughout Asia to strengthen immunity and improve health. 

Modern research shows that chaga health benefits aren’t just folklore. Studies show this mushroom can help fight conditions such as high cholesterol and cancer. 

The list of products made with this mushroom include chaga powder and chaga tea. 

What is chaga capable of doing for you on your health journey? Let’s take a closer look. 

In this article, we will:

  • Discuss some basic facts regarding the chaga mushroom
  • Explain what medicinal mushrooms such as chaga are, and discuss what they do for your health
  • Share insight regarding this mushroom’s active compounds
  • List key ways in which chaga benefits your health
  • Discuss how to consume chaga mushroom
  • Offer guidance on chaga mushroom dosage

What is chaga? 

Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch, alder, beech and other hardwood trees. The scientific name for this mushroom is Inonotus obliquus. It’s found in Asia, Canada, northern Europe and the northeastern United States. 

The chaga mushroom is a parasitic, wood-decaying fungus; it’s also a herb and an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a class of herbs that have been used over the years to improve health and combat stress. 

For years, chaga has been prized for its medicinal properties, in parts of Europe and all across Asia. In these cultures, it’s believed that chaga benefits immunity and promotes healing. 

Asian herbalists have long asserted that chaga mushroom benefits youthfulness and promotes longevity. And traditional Russian folk medicine holds that chaga benefits gastrointestinal health and is an excellent tonic for supporting overall wellness. 

More recently, modern research has produced evidence that backs several chaga health benefits. 

What is chaga called around the world? 

Chaga is known by a host of other names that vary from region to region. 

For example, in Norway, chaga mushroom is called kreftkjuke. When translated, this means cancer fungus. This is perhaps fitting when you consider that research shows chaga benefits cancer. 

In other parts of the world, chaga is called names such as cinder conk, black mass mushroom, birch canker polypore and clinker polypore. 

What is chaga mushroom’s relationship to melanin? 

Melanin is a substance that our bodies produce. It can help protect the skin and hair from sun damage. 

Chaga mushroom is a rich source of melanin. Because of this, chaga benefits melanin production in the body. 

“Fruiting body” is a term used to describe the physical structure of a mushroom. The physical qualities of the chaga mushroom’s fruiting body reflect the fact that it’s loaded with melanin. 

As seen in the image above, each chaga mushroom resembles a massive chunk of charcoal jutting from the side of a tree. 

The outer layer of this mushroom is black and hard. Its color is caused by the high levels of melanin this mushroom possesses. Melanin is the same pigment that helps human skin tan in sunlight. 

Chaga mushroom is orange when it first emerges from its host tree. As it spends time in the sunlight, the melanin it contains causes its color to get darker and darker. It has a softer texture on the inside, with an orange-hued core. 

Because of its abundance of melanin, chaga mushroom is a good melanin supplement. It can help make the skin and hair more resistant to harmful UV rays. 

What is chaga good for as a medicinal mushroom?

Chaga mushroom benefits wellness thanks to qualities it possesses as a medicinal mushroom. 

A medicinal mushroom is also referred to as a functional mushroom. These mushrooms offer lots of vital health benefits. 

For centuries, medicinal mushrooms have been used in Asian countries to treat infections. More recently, these functional mushrooms have been used as a treatment for pulmonary diseases and cancer. 

The National Cancer Institute reports that for the past 30 years, medicinal mushrooms have been approved adjuncts to standard cancer treatments in Japan and China. Data shows that these mushrooms have an extensive clinical history for safe use. In treatment, they’ve been used as single agents. They’ve also been used to support chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Chaga is just one of many medicinal mushrooms that have been used to foster healing over the years. Here are some other medicinal mushrooms that have potent health benefits: 

What is chaga good for when it comes to active compounds? 

Chaga benefits health thanks to the active compounds it contains. 

Like other medicinal mushrooms, chaga contains triterpenoids (also known as triterpenes) and polysaccharides. And chaga is also a good source of betulinic acid.  

Let’s examine how these compounds support chaga health benefits:

  1. Triterpenoids: Studies show that triterpenoids can help fight inflammation; they can also help protect the body from viruses. Research indicates that triterpenoids can help prevent diabetes. Additionally, they can help stem the proliferation of cancer cells. 
  2. Polysaccharides: Polysaccharides protect the body from free radicals and oxidative stress. They also work to halt the growth of tumors. 
  3. Betulinic acid: Betulinic acid is a substance that provides potent antioxidant properties.   

Chaga mushroom benefits

So, what is chaga good for when it comes to healing and wellness? And what are the ways in which chaga benefits your health? Let’s dive in. 

Chaga benefit #1: Boosts immunity 

Viruses and pathogens can leave you weak and depleted. Your body relies on the immune system to prevent these invaders from causing harm. Research shows that the chaga mushroom benefits the immune system. 

This is linked to chaga’s relationship with white blood cells. Your body turns to white blood cells to support its immune response. Chaga mushroom contains proteins that stimulate the production of these cells. A 2005 study shows that chaga works as a potent immunity enhancer. 

Chaga benefit #2: Densely packed with nutrients

Your body needs a selection of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to support wellness. So, what is chaga good for when it comes to nutrition?

Chaga mushroom benefits health by serving as a nutrient-dense food. It contains these valuable vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Cesium
  • Amino acids
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Rubidium
  • Fiber
  • Copper 
  • Selenium 
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • B-complex vitamins

Chaga benefit #3: Fights cancer

Cancer is a common cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. Research shows that the chaga mushroom benefits cancer treatment. 

In a 2016 animal study that looked at mice with cancer, intake of a chaga mushroom extract caused a 60 percent reduction in tumor size. And in various studies, chaga has been shown to halt the growth of various types of cancer. 

Chaga benefit #4: Lowers LDL cholesterol and may help prevent heart disease

What is chaga good for when it comes to heart disease and cholesterol?

Heart disease can be deadly, and it’s been linked with high LDL cholesterol. Research shows chaga can help lower LDL cholesterol in the body. In this way, chaga mushroom benefits the overall health of your heart and may help prevent cardiovascular disease. 

In a 2009 study involving rats, chaga intake resulted in a marked decrease in LDL cholesterol. That study also showed that chaga mushroom intake increased antioxidant levels.  

Chaga benefit #5: Lowers blood sugar and may help treat diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that causes serious illness and death. It’s been linked with high blood sugar. 

Research shows chaga can help lower blood sugar. By doing this, the chaga mushroom benefits diabetes treatment. 

2017 study looked at the effect that chaga had on obese, diabetic mice. Chaga intake helped reduce blood sugar levels. It also improved glucose tolerance ability, and it helped improve the antioxidant activities of the liver. 

How to consume chaga mushroom

Chaga is an edible mushroom. But you can’t just bite into it as you would with a mushroom that’s sold at the grocery store. Chaga’s hard texture makes it difficult to chew and digest. For this reason, chaga is commonly ground into a powder prior to consumption. 

Chaga powder isn’t your only option. This mushroom is also available as liquid chaga extract or chaga tincture. You can create brewed chaga by purchasing chaga mushroom tea bags. And if you’re looking for a chaga supplement that’s easy to take every day, you can find chaga capsules online or in grocery stores.  

Here are some options for chaga consumption:

  • Stir chaga mushroom powder into your smoothie in the morning
  • Make chaga tea using chaga tea bags or chaga powder
  • Sprinkle chaga powder into your morning cup of joe to create chaga mushroom coffee
  • Take chaga mushroom capsules as a dietary supplement 
  • Mix chaga tincture into your beverages 

Chaga mushroom dosage

So, how much of this mushroom should you take every day to realize chaga health benefits? 

A common chaga dosage is 1 gram per day, and this is a good place to start. It’s also common for people to take higher doses of 1.5 to 2 grams each day. If you want to try a higher dose, start slow and work your way up. 

Next steps

What is chaga capable of doing for you in your health evolution? To learn about chaga benefits firsthand, take it for a test spin to see if it supports your healing journey.  

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