3 Benefits Of Chaga Mushroom That Could Change The Game For Your Health
An increasing amount of research is being conducted into the applications and health benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is one particular fungus that’s garnered increasing amounts of attention because of its wide array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and its potential benefits to cardiovascular health, immunity and cancer prevention. Chaga’s antioxidant strength is a force of nature (literally), reducing cellular damage that results from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by oxygen free radicals, which form when oxygen splits into single atoms with an unpaired electron. Because electrons prefer to exist in pairs, these molecules react with everything around them to acquire another electron, causing damage to cells, proteins and DNA.
Clinical studies and anecdotal evidence suggests there are many health benefits to consuming chaga, here are the three that we found most compelling based on the scientific evidence that exists currently:
Preventing and Fighting Cancer
As mentioned earlier, oxygen free radicals are the agents of oxidative stress, which underpins many of the diseases and conditions humans suffer from, even aging. Oxidative stress can also cause damage to DNA, the structures that control how our cells function. DNA damage is the root cause of cancer, causing cancer cells to replicate at an accelerated rate and disregard the normal rules of a cell's life-cycle. By neutralizing and expelling oxygen free radicals, and preventing this damage from occurring, Chaga is thought to decrease the potential for DNA damage and hence the formation of cancerous cells. Studies have even found that compounds isolated directly from Chaga mushrooms have potent anti-tumor effects in human tumors in vitro (outside of a living organism) and mice in vivo (Inside of a living organism).
While more extensive studies are needed to extrapolate these findings to humans in a clinical setting, these early results are certainly promising.
Promoting Gut Health
Chaga is full of compounds called prebiotics, which are essentially food for probiotic bacteria, the healthy bacteria found in our gut. Studies done in mice show that the bacterial composition of the gut changes when chaga is supplemented, shifting it to contain more good bacteria that contribute to a healthy digestive system. This also has positive effects on the brain thanks to a system known as the gut-brain axis, where the health of your gut is reflected in the health of your brain. This has led some researchers to hypothesize that Chaga may even have positive effects on cognition and inflammation in the brain.
Chronic inflammation is one of the biggest risk factors for a whole host of conditions, including high blood pressure, anxiety, cancer, arthritis, the list goes on. Inflammation is mediated by cytokines, chemical messengers involved in the immune response. Chaga inhibits the release of harmful cytokines, preventing over-activation of the immune system and all the inflammation that goes along with it. Chaga’s antioxidant power mentioned earlier also affects inflammation. In fact, Chaga is said to have a higher ORAC score (a measure of antioxidant strength) than acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates - one of the highest of all the superfoods.
Chaga has been used for centuries in eastern medicine, and can be consumed as a tincture, dried and ground up to be taken in powder form or brewed with hot water to make tea. However you choose to consume Chaga, we highly recommend incorporating this powerful mushroom into your daily routine!