Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus Obliquus) grow on Birch trees, predominantly in Northern climates.
Since as early as the 16th century, Chaga mushroom has been used in herbal folk medicine as a cleansing and disinfecting measure throughout Poland, Russia, and other Baltic countries. Until as recently as the 1990’s, it was virtually unknown in the rest of the world.
But in recent years, scientific evidence proving the powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-tumor effects of this fungus are feeding it’s rise to popularity in the natural health community worldwide.
Let’s go over 4 key benefits of chaga mushroom that are backed by science, to help you understand just how powerful this little fungus really is.
1 | Chaga Mushroom Reduces Inflammation
Many mushrooms are known to have immune-boosting properties, in fact over 700 species have known pharmacological properties, and many of those have immune-boosting power.
But beyond general disease resistance and immunomodulating ability, Chaga mushroom also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Chaga mushroom slows down the inflammatory cycle by decreasing the expression of molecule NF-kB, which activates an inflammatory response in the body.
2 | Chaga Mushroom Kills Cancer Cells Without Harming Normal Cells
In healthy cells, the reproduction and subsequent die-off of unneeded cells form a healthy ongoing cycle that limits cells from growing out of proportion to their function. But in the case of a tumor, cells continue to proliferate without the natural cell die-off, causing a rapid, uncontrolled increase the the number of those cells.
To inhibit the uncontrolled cell growth that causes a tumor, the aim of nutraceutical supplements is to stop that out-of-control cell growth cycle and kick-start a healthy cell die-off (called apoptosis) in the cancerous cells, which is exactly what studies are showing that chaga mushroom does.
In a fascinating 2011 study, researchers noted a multitude of different cancer cells were inhibited by the application of fractionated chaga mushroom, including cells from lung cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, and more.
The other important takeaway from the study was the effect of the fractionated chaga on normal, healthy cells. Because chaga has a toxic effect on cancerous cells, causing them to die off at rapid rates, it is important to understand how application of chaga to inhibit cancer growth might impact the growth of healthy surrounding cells. This study found that while it’s cancer-fighting effects are strong, the study showed no or low toxicity in the normal cells that were tested, meaning it did relatively no harm to the healthy tissue. These results are also supported by a 2008 study, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, that found chaga to be similarly selective in its effect when applied to liver cancer cells, in that it did not have a toxic effect of healthy tissue as it did on the cancerous tissue.
3 | Chaga Mushroom Inhibits Cancerous Tumor Growth
A 2009 study of the effect of applying chaga mushroom extracted in water directly to colon cancer tumors found that the water extract has a marked inhibitory effect on cancer cell growth.
The Chaga mushroom extract inhibited the growth of these colon cancer cells (HT-29 cells) because the extract causes a die-off of the cancerous cells by balancing protein levels. The more concentrated the water extract, the more powerful its effect, in some cases having up to 56% inhibitory effect on HT-29 cell growth.
In layman’s terms, Chaga mushroom has a powerful ability to inhibit cancer cell growth, when applied directly to cancer cells at the correct concentrations.
4 | Chaga Mushroom Reduces Oxidative Stress In the Body
Oxidative stress in the human body occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to detoxify or reduce their harmful effects via antioxidants.
Chaga mushroom has stronger antioxidant properties than most other medicinal mushrooms, and in fact studies have shown that the phenolic compounds in Chaga actually scavenge free radicals to relieve cells from the burden of oxidization. That’s a pretty protective little mushroom!