Potentially the most powerful member of the fungi kingdom, the chaga mushroom or ‘Inonotus obliquus’, contains possibly the greatest medicinal properties of all herbs. It’s a parasitic but also symbiotic fungus that grows primarily on birch trees in cool climates and has been used for its profound healing qualities for over 4,000 years. The highest concentration of chaga can be found in Russia, particularly Siberia, however it also grows naturally in the United States, Korea and regions of northern and eastern Europe. Let’s take a look at these Top 5 Health Benefits of Chaga!
Chaga is host to numerous antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-cancer, adaptogenic, digestive, tonifying and genoprotective (DNA preserving) compounds, with over 200 phytonutrients, B-complex vitamins, copper, zinc, iron and manganese. Superoxide is the most prevalent free radical in the body and chaga contains large quantities of the powerful antioxidant, superoxide dismutase, which neutralises the harmful effects of free-radical damage. This contributes greatly to the reduction of disease and the rate of aging.
Chemical mediators that are secreted in relation to inflammation are responsible for its intensity and endurance within your body. Chaga has the powerful ability to subdue the expression of chemical mediators of inflammation. It has also been shown to positively impact cholesterol levels thanks to the actions of its polysaccharide content, which in turn regulates your blood pressure. Additionally, the phytosterols and betulinic acid it contains also have the ability to resolve many of your intestinal issues.
3. Immune boosting
This marvellous mushroom boosts the production of your immune cells, namely cytokines from the activation of lymphocytes and macrophages, which allows for valuable immunomodulatory effects. Therefore, it stimulates immunity if it is too weak and slows it down if it’s overactive. This allows for the improvement or prevention of autoimmune disorders, whereby the immune system attacks the body.
Recent research has shown chaga’s effectiveness against HIV and hepatitis C. The mushroom is also of interest due to its effects on the immune system and its ability to selectively kill cancer cells. Somewhat responsible for this is chaga’s content of polysaccharides called beta-glucans. These molecules help to inhibit the development and spread of certain cancer cells and have been shown to increase immune system activity. Interestingly, the 12th-century Tzar Vladimir Monamah was said to have treated his lip cancer with chaga.
5. Improves athletic performance
Chaga consumption leads to increased glycogen stores in your liver and muscles, allowing for an elevated production of ATP and improved physical endurance, alongside its high amounts of B vitamins which help to fuel your muscles. Chaga’s potent anti-inflammatory effects also help to speed your recovery time after intense training.
Feel as though you’d benefit from looking and feeling younger, improved digestion, an uplifted mood, boosted immunity and increased energy levels? Then look to use the ‘King of the Mushrooms’ to your advantage. Chaga chunks can be purchased online or from various health-food stores and consumed as a tea, or in the form of capsules, powders, tinctures or syrups, and can be used well alongside other medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps. You should look to purchase wild harvested chaga as that will give you the greatest benefits.