When modern medicine is failing, and you are just sick and tired of taking all those supplement pills, and every day modern life is taking its toll, you and everybody else turn to nature. And nature always has an answer, for all your problems, whether physical or mental. One such remedy is Chaga, commonly known as chaga mushroom.
Chaga, a fungus in the family Hymenochaetaceae, probably dates as early as mankind itself, however, the first written evidence is about 100 BC when Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing mentions it in a book about herbs and their medical properties, and there he calls Chaga mushroom the “King of Herbs”. Still Chagas popularity rises thanks to Siberian Russians, who used it for digestion and detoxification, as soap, and even smoked it for better lung health. And then it spread around Russia, and spread all around the world, mostly thanks to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who wrote about Chaga in The Rakovii Corpus, explaining the medicinal properties and benefits of drinking Chaga tea. Now Chaga is quite popular, and many doctors, scientists and researchers are showing an increased interest in proving the health benefits of drinking this tea, and the result are quite interesting.
You can find Chaga growing in most northern and colder regions of the world, on mountains and forests where birch tree grows, because this “mushroom” (fungus) grows on the tree in a form of a dome or in a shape of a horn with ridges. It is not the fruiting body of the fungus, but a sclerotium or mass of mycelium, mostly black because of the presence of massive amounts of melanin. But why chaga is so valuable follows below with some of the many proven benefits of the Chaga mushroom.
- Chaga is a superfood – it’s packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and in large amounts. It carries almost everything your body needs:
– Chaga is rich in B-complex vitamins, vitamin D
– Chaga contains rubidium, potassium, cesium
– Chaga is rich in fiber
– Chaga is a great source of copper, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium and calcium
- Chaga keeps you younger – or better told, it slows down the aging process by giving you the much needed antioxidants who then fight free radicals caused by sun exposure, pollution and every day stress of modern way of life. So, it might not make you look younger, but it will sure make you feel younger. Plus, free radicals are accelerating aging processes, so every time something fights them you do get a bit younger, in a way!
- Chaga lowers your blood pressure – having high blood pressure makes you prone to heart attack, stroke and many other cardiovascular diseases, so having enough antioxidants is always good. Chaga mushroom tea and its anti-oxidative properties can help you prevent all these diseases.
- Chaga is an immune system booster – some studies were conducted on mice which came to the conclusion that chaga help regulate the production of cytokines, proteins that stimulate white blood cells which are responsible defenders of many illnesses.
Chaga also increases the production of interleukin and T-lymphocytes, which also help regulate the immune system and fight bacteria and viruses.
- Chaga has great anti-inflammatory properties – as well known, rheumatoid arthritis and similar chronic conditions are linked to inflammation, and inflammation can also lead to serious chronic heart problems. Chagas ability to regulate cytokine production also helps control inflammation, and can be used to help fight various chronic conditions caused and followed by inflammation.
A study conducted on animals has shown that chaga extract can reduce the inflammation of ulcerative colitis, due to the ability to suppress the expression of chemical mediators of inflammation.
- Chaga has anti-viral properties – a study made in 2015 showed that chaga extract has an anti-viral effect on HIV virus type 1, while other study came to the conclusion that it has anti-viral effect on hepatitis C virus. A lot of other studies are being conducted at the moment trying to prove the anti-viral properties of chaga mushroom extracts.
- Chaga lowers the (bad) cholesterol – no wonder, with the superfood properties and the bunch of antioxidants this mushroom reduces the LDL (bad) cholesterol. Having high cholesterol increases the risk of developing chronic heart diseases, so chaga might help keep you heart health to a much higher level.
- Chaga could help with cancer fight and prevention – with the above mentioned abilities it doesn’t come as a surprise that researchers are studying the possibility of using chaga as a cancer remedy. The high concentration of antioxidants prevent cell damage from free radicals, which can lead to cancer development, and a study from 2010 has shown that chaga can slow down the development of lung, breast and cervical cancer cells in petri dish, and proved that it can slow down the development of cancer in rats.
Another study from 2009 found triterpenes in chaga, a compound that destroys cancer cells but still keeps healthy cells untouched. Still, all studies so far have been conducted on animals, and only one was done on human cancer cells and the results were as expected, it prevented additional growth of the liver cancer cells.
- Chaga may help control high blood sugar – another study done on mice that were genetically modified to have diabetes shown that chaga lower the blood sugar. In 8 weeks eating chaga mushroom the mice significantly lowered their blood sugar levels. Still waiting for human trials to happen.
- Chaga for endurance improvement – chaga given to mice showed that it can increase their endurance and lower the fatigue. The same study showed that mice fed with chaga mushroom were able to swim much longer than the rest fed on regular diet, because as the study showed the glycogen level in the muscle and liver were increased while the lactic acid levels have decreased.
- Side effect from drugs prevention – although this claim is still in research, there are evidence that chaga tea consumption can lower the side effect of drugs used in cancer and autoimmune diseases treatments like chemo, radiation and many other medication used for treatment.
There is a lot of work needed to be done researching the benefits of chaga, but the evidence so far prove that it is a superfood, and can be used for various conditions. The risks and side effects are slim to none. Still, if you are a diabetic and taking insulin, have in mind that it can lower your sugar levels even more than needed. And don’t rely only on the benefits of chaga in treating any condition or disease, but take it as an additive to your therapy, and always consult with your doctor of the possible interaction with the prescribed drugs.
If you want to give it a try you can find chaga in all well-equipped healthy food stores, in a form of supplements (capsules), tablets or tincture, but you can also find it as tea or coffee, whatever suites your needs.