Chaga is a mushroom that grows on a birch tree. It is dark brown in appearance and has a woody look to it. Chaga has its origins in Northern Europe, Canada, China, Finland and Russia. This use of this mushroom dates back to a long as 100 BC where it was used as folk medicine to treat illnesses such as the common cold.1Rich in antioxidants, sterols, polyphenols and polysaccharides, Chaga has gained it’s status as a superfood. It is considered to be one of the most potent medicinal mushrooms because of its rich nutrient content. Some of its health benefits are the following;
Boost Immune System
Chaga contains polysaccharides (sugars) that help to activate the defence system in the body. It is able to both stimulate the immune cells in the blood stream and in the bone marrow reserve. The stimulation of the both the surface and reserve immune system helps to activate other immune cells such as the T cells.2
Chaga contains a compound called betulinic acid that is responsible for causing tumours to shrink.3 Chaga extract has been used back in 1955 to create an anticancer drug in Russia and successfully treated lung, cervical, breast and stomach cancers.4
Research shows that it is cell specific as it works by attacking only the tumorous cells. It is able to do so because it is attracted to the lower pH of these tissues. Betulinic acid induces apoptosis (cell death) by attacking its mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of a cell and once attacked the cell is unable to supply itself with energy and nutrients, which leads to death.
Supports Chemotherapy Treatment
Patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapies can use Chaga because it rich content in antioxidants like melanin.2 Melanin helps to support the immune system binding to radioactive isotopes protecting the body from radioactive damage. Also butelin, the cancer-fighting compound helps to protect organs such as the liver from the damaging affects of radiation and chemotherapy.
The compound that gives the chaga mushroom its dark brown colour is melanin. This is the same melanin that is responsible for pigmentation the human skin and the human of the eye. Regular consumption of chaga helps to promote healthy skin by protecting it from the sun’s harmful rays.2 Chaga is also beneficial to the eyes and hair because of this compound. Other compounds in chaga like beta glucan polysaccharides also help to promote healthy skin by keeping it nourished and hydrated.
Chaga has anti-inflammatory properties because of the numerous vitamins and minerals it contains; vitamin B complex, magnesium, potassium, zinc and silicon just to name a few.1 It works by decreasing inflammation in the body reducing the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, degenerative diseases as well as
rheumatoid arthritis. Research has also shown that it also helps to treat stomach diseases e.g. irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers.5
Chaga helps to increase the levels of a certain natural antioxidant in the body known as superoxide dismutase (SOD).1 SOD works by acting as a free radical scavenger protecting DNA from damage. Once a cell is protected from DNA damage it is less likely to become cancerous. It also works by providing support to the immune system.
For all the reasons discussed above chaga is truly a super food. It is available in various forms; fresh mushroom, powdered form, chaga tea and as capsules. People use it for a wide range of medical purposes but some of the most common uses are; treating the common cold or influenza, gastrointestinal problems, immune system support, treating viral and bacterial illnesses. Its abundance of antioxidants truly makes it ‘The King of Herbs’.
- “Chaga Mushrooms From Chi Chaga | 100% Wild And Pure Canadian Chaga Tea”. Chichaga.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
- “Chaga Mushroom Benefits As An Immune Enhancing Superfood”. superfoods-for-superhealth.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
- Suresh, Challa et al. “New Ionic Derivatives Of Betulinic Acid As Highly Potent Anti-Cancer Agents”. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters 22.4 (2012): 1734-1738. Web.
- Hobbs, Christopher. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995. Print.
- 5. “Use The Wild-Crafted Chaga Mushroom To Treat Chronic Ailments”. NaturalNews. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.