Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) Mushroom Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) Mushroom Health Benefits

What are the Benefits of Chaga Mushroom?

  • Boosts immune system
  • Ant-inflammatory
  • May prevent and cure cancer
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Helpful in lowering cholesterol
  • Enhances physical endurance

For centuries, chaga mushrooms have been used in different parts of Asia as a medicinal herb to improve immunity and enhance overall health. It may look ugly, but this mushroom is now becoming popular in the Western world because of its possible health benefits.

If you want to find out what chaga can do to your health, read on.

The most important benefit attributed to chaga mushroom is its capability to strengthen the immune system. Its anti-inflammation properties also contribute to this benefit.

Based on test-tube and animal studies, chaga extract can have a positive effect on immunity. It can fight viruses and harmful bacteria, plus it can decrease long-term inflammation. Chaga can stimulate white blood cells by promoting the production of beneficial cytokines. White blood cells are necessary to fight off viruses and bacteria. (1, 2)

Other studies showed how chaga mushroom can inhibit the formation of harmful cytokines, which are associated with illnesses and can trigger inflammation. For instance, one mice study demonstrated how chaga extract could decrease gut damage and reduce inflammation by preventing these inflammatory cytokines. (1, 2, 3)

Chaga mushrooms may also be effective in preventing and treating cancer.

There have been animal and test-tube studies showing how the mushroom can slow down and even prevent cancer growth. One study involving mice with cancer revealed that chaga supplementation led to a 60% tumour size reduction. (1, 2)

Another test-tube study showed how chaga extract was able to prevent cancer development in human liver cells. The same result was seen in the colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancer cells. (1, 2, 3, 4)

In addition, chaga mushroom may help lower blood sugar levels. This means that it could be used to manage diabetes. (1, 2)

One study done in diabetic mice demonstrated how chaga extract was able to decrease insulin resistance and blood sugar levels than those who were not given any supplement. Another study showed a 31% blood sugar level reduction in diabetic mice which consumed chaga for more than three weeks. (1, 2)

Chaga mushroom may also help regulate cholesterol levels, which can decrease the risk of heart disease.

One study involving rats with high cholesterol showed how chaga extract decreased the triglycerides, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. At the same time, it was able to increase antioxidant levels. Other studies got the same results, plus they suggested that chaga can also increase “good” HDL cholesterol. (1, 2, 3)

Taking this mushroom may improve the user’s physical endurance as well. It can result in lesser fatigue after training.

An animal study in 2015 observed that the mice which were given chaga polysaccharides were able to swim longer. Also, the glycogen content of their liver and muscles increased. In addition, the lactic acid levels in the blood were reduced. (1)

These potential benefits of chaga mushroom are really promising. However, most of the studies done have involved animals and test-tubes. More research is needed to know how effective and safe it is for humans.

What is Chaga Mushroom?

Chaga mushrooms, with the scientific name Inonotus obliquus, are native to Alaska, Northern Canada, Siberia, and other areas which have really cold climates. “Chaga” is the Russian term for mushroom. They are also called “black gold”.

These mushrooms usually grow on hornbeam, chestnut, alder, and beech trees. They look like burnt charcoal with a mushy yellow-orange core.

Chaga mushrooms have served as a traditional remedy for various conditions, like gastrointestinal cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. They have been traditionally used in Northern European countries for centuries.

How Does Chaga Work?

The effectiveness of chaga mushroom as an immune system booster depends much on its rich content of antioxidants. The antioxidant effects are the result of the chemicals that the mushroom contains.

How Do I Take Chaga Mushroom?

Chaga is available in supplement forms, such as tincture, powder, tablet, or capsule. You can buy it from nearby health food stores and online.

You can also drink mushroom tea or coffee that may contain chaga alone or in mixture with other mushrooms. If you like to try chaga mushroom tea, you can make your own tea at home. What you will need is chaga mushroom powder or raw chaga chunks.

As of now, there is no proper dosage range for chaga mushroom. Nevertheless, some specialists recommend a teaspoon or a gram of chaga powder daily. If you have a health concern, then you may consume two to three grams of the mushroom a day until you get better.

There is no information about the possible effects of consuming too much chaga. For this reason, users are advised to stick to the safe side by following the recommended doses.

Can I Take Chaga with Vitamins or Medicines?

Currently, no chaga mushroom interaction with other medications has been reported. More research is needed to find out how safe chaga supplementation is while the user is taking medicines.

If you are taking some prescribed drugs for specific illnesses, then please ask your doctor’s advice first before consuming chaga.

Is Chaga Mushroom Safe?

Now, the safety and side effects of consuming chaga mushroom are still not clear. Until now, no clinical trials have been done to evaluate this mushroom’s effects on humans.

For those who are pregnant or may be breastfeeding, it is advised that they avoid consuming chaga. There are no details yet about how safe chaga is for babies.

There is also a special warning for people with autoimmune diseases, like lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Chaga can increase the activity of the immune system, which may lead to worsened symptoms of their conditions. People with diabetes need to avoid this too since it can decrease blood sugar levels. People with bleeding disorders or those who will go through surgery should avoid taking chaga too. This mushroom can increase the risk of bleeding.