Contents:What Is Chaga? 15 Science-Backed Chaga Benefits
- Chaga Can Reduce Oxidative Stress
- Chaga Is Amazing for Your Skin
- Chaga Has Anti-Cancer Benefits
- Chaga May Improve Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Chaga is a Cognitive Enhancer
- Chaga Can Relieve Pain
- Chaga Can Help Control Diabetes
- Chaga May Boost Your Immune Health
- Chaga Might Reduce Inflammation
- Chaga May Protect from Blood Clots
- Chaga Can Lower Cholesterol
- Chaga Can Fight Bacterial Infections
- Chaga Might Increase Your Physical Endurance
- Chaga Can Promote Weight Loss
- Chaga May Help with Pigmentation Levels in Your Skin
What Is Chaga?
Chaga is a fungus that naturally produces a woody growth. This woody growth is called a conk. This is what people have used for years to make herbal remedies and medicines. Chaga has a rich history of medicinal use starting in 16th-century Russia. It's usually grated or cut and boiled in water to form a tea.
The longer you boil the Chaga in the water, the stronger it gets. It also gets stronger the longer it sets after you initially boil it. There are numerous health benefits associated with drinking Chaga tea or incorporating an extract made from Chaga into your diet, and we've highlighted the top 15 Chaga benefits below.
15 Science-Backed Chaga BenefitsNow that you know what Chaga is, how it's traditionally prepared, and a little history about it, it's time to understand what this fungus can do to you. We've rounded up the top 15 science-backed Chaga benefits for you below.
1. Chaga Can Reduce Oxidative Stress
Tissue and cell damage can be the result of oxidative stress. It's a balance disturbance between antioxidants in your body and the production of free radicals. When everything is in balance, your cells and tissue are healthy. However, when things get unbalanced, you'll start to notice damage to your cells, particularly to your skin.
This is what makes your skin lose its elasticity and look worn out or tired. There have been several studies on Chaga's ability to protect your cells from oxidative stress, and one study showed Chaga's phenolic compounds actually scavenge excess free radicals and form a barrier that protects your cells from further damage. Another study proved that extracts from Chaga can reduce damage to your DNA done by hydrogen peroxide by 40%.
2. Chaga Is Amazing for Your Skin
Your skin goes through a lot of wear over the years, not to mention a lot of exposure to your environment. This can take its toll on your skin, and it can cause it to lose elasticity, be prone to wrinkles, and lose that youthful glow. Chaga is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants on the planet, and this is what heals your skin.
Researchers measured Chaga's antioxidant properties against three other mushrooms that are commonly used for medicinal purposes. They found that Chaga had the highest amount of antioxidants out of all four mushrooms. This can help to repair your skin's damage both internally and externally. Another study showed that Chaga is effective in shielding cells and tissues from further damage.
3. Chaga Has Anti-Cancer Benefits
The National Cancer Institute lists cancer as being one of the leading causes of death around the world. The top four cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, bronchus cancer, and prostate cancer. What's more, studies suggest that approximately 38.4% of people will receive a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime, and these projections continue to go up each year.
Chaga has both anti-cancer benefits and tumour suppression benefits. Two different human studies showed that Chaga has the potential to reduce or slow the growth of liver cancer and colon cancer. Another study showed that supplementing Chaga extract as part of a daily routine reduced lung cancer tumour size by a significant 60 percent. A final study showed that Chaga can suppress the spread of cancer cells to other areas of your body.
4. Chaga May Improve Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a term that could mean two different digestive conditions. One is ulcerative colitis, and the other is Crohn's disease. A problem or defect in your immune system is thought to be the cause of IBD, and it can cause a lot of problems if you don't treat it. Currently, there are roughly 1.6 million Americans diagnosed with IBD, and there are around 100,000 new cases per year.
Free radicals and oxidative stress are thought to contribute to IBD symptoms, and Chaga's antioxidant abilities can help to balance the levels of free radicals in your system. Newer studies show promising results in response to Chaga's potential abilities to reduce colon cell inflammation and calm IBD symptoms as well.
5. Chaga is a Cognitive Enhancer
When people talk about cognition and cognitive function, they're talking about the various mental processes that let us carry out our daily functions. These functions allow us to choose, receive, process, store and retrieve information at will. As you age, your cognitive function starts to decline, and you may have trouble retaining new information or learning new tasks.
Fortunately, ingesting extracts from Chaga can help improve your overall cognitive function, as displayed by animal studies. It does this by lowering oxidative stress and cell damage while increasing the levels of acetylcholine. This is important because acetylcholine promotes memory, learning learning. It should help you retain more information and learn new things easier, even as you age.
6. Chaga Can Relieve Pain
Almost everyone will have minor aches and pains at one point or another during their lives. These are normal, and a number of things can set them off. The damp weather can aggravate old injuries, and muscle pain is also common along with chronic pain. You're more prone to aches and pains as you age, but they can have negative effects on all ages. One animal study showed promising results concerning pain relief and Chaga.
The animals that got the Chaga extract in the study displayed reduced reactions to pain stimuli. A cell culture study showed that Chaga extract lowered the binding ability of NF-kappaB. When this happens, it blocks inflammatory response enzymes. In turn, you should experience reduced sensations of pain or swelling, and this works just like classic NSAID medications like aspirin.
7. Chaga Can Help Control Diabetes
When people have diabetes, it means that their bodies can't regulate the levels of glucose in their blood without help. Their blood sugar levels rise or fall depending on what they eat, and there are serious complications if their blood sugar levels get too high or too low. Diet can help, but many diabetics need injectable medication as well.
A few animal studies show that an extract of Chaga can reduce multiple diabetes symptoms. This includes high blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, free fatty acids and bad cholesterol levels. The same studies showed that Chaga has the capabilities to increase the levels of good cholesterol along and regulate blood sugar levels.
8. Chaga May Boost Your Immune Health
Your immune system is vital to your continued health. Your immune system is made up of proteins, organs and cells. It performs several key functions including identifying possible infections and eradicating them, removing bacteria or infections from your body and fighting against cells that have mutated like cancer cells.
Researchers studied Chaga extract and found that ingesting it can prompt your immune system to produce more immune cells, namely immune cells lymphocyte B and IL-6. This extract can also help your immune system tell the difference between foreign cells and safe cells, and this means that it'll be more effective in fighting off infections. An animal study proved that Chaga could reduce immune system hypersensitivity as well.
9. Chaga Might Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is your immune system's response to an injury or infection. Inflammation can cause tenderness, swelling and a warm to the touch feel. These things are a result of our immune system flooding the injured or infected area with white blood cells and proteins. Your immune system can mistakenly attack your body as well, and this results in conditions like arthritis or Lupus.
One study showed that Chaga may be able to help control and suppress an overactive immune system response. In turn, your inflammation levels can go down. Adding Chaga extract to your diet can also help control the levels of NF-kB, and this molecule is responsible for your inflammatory response. It's also shown to be an effective treatment for inflammation in your colon cells.
10. Chaga May Protect from Blood Clots
Blood clots are a good thing when they form to stop you from bleeding or when they form to help repair an injury to your veins or arteries. However, when blood clots form inside of your veins or arteries, it could be life-threatening because it can let go and travel to your heart or lungs can cause large complications like strokes or heart attacks.
Although it's in very early stages, testing on Chaga's effect on platelet aggregation is promising. Animal studies showed that Chaga extract has the ability to significantly decrease platelet aggregation in your veins and arteries. These studies show that Chaga may be a viable treatment for blood clots, and you may even be able to use it as a preventative measure for people who are at high risk for developing blood clots.
11. Chaga Can Lower Cholesterol
You have good cholesterol and bad cholesterol in your body. When you have high levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, it means that bad fats or lipids are also high. These elevated levels can increase your risk for cardiovascular issues like a heart attack or stroke because they put added stress on your cardiovascular system, and it has to work harder.
One study involving animals with high lipids in their blood showed that Chaga could help to regulate the levels of bad cholesterol in your body, and it may even be able to reduce it. Also, another study showed that Chaga may be effective for increasing the levels of good cholesterol in your body.
12. Chaga Can Fight Bacterial Infections
Did you know that bacterial infections are the leading cause of death in developing countries as well as in the Western world? Bacterial infections can attack all of your body systems, and a few examples are strep throat, urinary tract infections, and cellulitis in your skin. It typically takes one or more rounds of antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria.
Bacteria cells use a method called quorum sensing to active gene expression and spread throughout your body. Chaga extract contains anti-quorum sensing properties that can help your body fight off bacterial infections. Cell cultures proved that extracts from the Chaga mushroom are effective at killing both fungal and bacterial cells as well. Since it's a natural remedy, you won't have to worry about side effects.
13. Chaga Might Increase Your Physical Endurance
When you think about your physical endurance, it means how much exercise you can fit in or how far you can go before you have to stop due to exhaustion. Your physical endurance levels depend on how physically fit you are, your diet and exercise routine. You can increase your physical endurance by establishing a workout routine and changing your diet.
A few animal studies showed that mice who got Chaga extract had higher physical endurance when it came to swimming than the mice in the control group. It also showed that the animals had higher stores of energy in their livers and muscles. Other studies showed that Chaga extract can significantly decrease the levels of blood urea nitrogen levels. These levels directly contribute to your fatigue levels.
14. Chaga Can Promote Weight Loss
The closer you are to your ideal body weight, the healthier you usually are. Genetics, your level of exercise and your diet all play a role in your body weight. The more overweight you are, the higher your risk is for developing cardiovascular issues like heart attack or stroke because your systems have to work harder to support your body.
A Chinese study with mice fed mice a high-fat diet over a period of 12 weeks and then introduced Chaga extract to see if it helped the mice lose weight. They found that the mice that got the Chaga mushroom extract had controlled body weight, reduced bad cholesterol levels and reduced levels of fatty lipids in the blood.
15. Chaga May Help with Pigmentation Levels in Your Skin
For people with pigment problems or skin conditions like Vitiligo, they have problems with retaining an even pigmentation on all of their skin. This uneven pigmentation can result in patches of lighter coloured skin all over their body. A study took people with pigmentation problems and gave them Chaga extract over the course of the trial.
They found that Chaga could actually help to control pigmentation loss or hyper-pigmentation. The same study showed that Chaga could help to reduce the pigmentation changes in people with Vitiligo, and this can give them a more even skin tone.
Safety, Side Effects and Interactions of Chaga
Since Chaga can prevent blood clotting, you shouldn't take it if you're currently taking medications to thin your blood. These medications include Warfarin or aspirin because Chaga can increase your risk of uncontrollable bleeding. If you take medication to reduce your blood sugar levels, you want to avoid taking Chaga because this combination can cause your blood sugar levels to fall.
Also, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you may want to avoid Chaga because there aren't enough human-based studies to ensure that it's safe. Chaga may also interact with certain medications, and this is why you want to talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet.