We’ve covered a lot of superfoods in this blog, but medicinal mushrooms, not so much. That’s why we decided to feature both a superfood and a medicinal mushroom at the same time.
Chaga mushrooms is a popular medicinal mushroom and has been called names like the “gift from God,” “king of herbs,” and “king of medicinal mushrooms.” This mushroom looks like burnt charcoal on the outside. It has rusty color, soil-like texture when you break it into pieces. The mushroom has long been popular in Russia and Canada and has been consumed as a coffee or tea substitute or add-on.
Traditionally chaga mushroom is used in the following ways:
- regulate hunger
- boost the immune system
- promote clarity of thinking
- detox the body
- improve endurance
- increase productivity
- calm upset stomach and ulcers
A closer look however reveals that chaga can still do more. Here are some of chaga mushroom health benefits that you’ll be delighted to know:
1. Chaga as a Superfood
They didn’t call it the king of medicinal mushrooms for nothing. Chaga mushroom is actually a superfood. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals such as:
- vitamin D
- vitamin B2
Chaga contains important polysaccharides and these polysaccharides as also called “biological response modulators.” They are chemicals that can either suppress or boost your immune system, depending on what your body requires. Yes, you read suppress right. But why would you want your immune system to be suppressed? This goes to people who may have autoimmune diseases, one where your immune system attacks your own organs.
A study in 2005 reveals that chaga mushroom has potent immune booster without negative side effects. This means that when your body needs it, it can improve your immune response and combat diseases more effectively.
3. Chaga Prevents Cancer
We know this is a bold claim, but researches have shown that the phytosterols and the polysaccharide beta-glucan contents of chaga mushrooms can reduce cancer incidence significantly.
These chemicals have the following properties:
- improve the production of macrophages to naturally kill cancer causing cells
- prevent formation of tumors by acting against genotoxic carcinogens
- improves immune system response to fight cancer naturally
In 2016 a study learned that chaga extract can shrink tumors by as much as 60 percent.
4. Chaga as Antiviral
Chaga’s role in boosting your immune system is undeniable. In a study in 2015, it’s been shown that chaga has positive effect against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Another study showed its effectiveness against Hepatitis C virus and even herpes.
Chaga is rich in botulin, a compound that is indigestible in its natural form but is digestible after being converted by the mushroom.
Betulin is shown to dramatically lower bad cholesterol in the body. It also helps prevent obesity and insulin sensitivity and is being considered to be more effective than currently commercially available anti-cholesterol drugs.
6. Chaga Improves Strength and Endurance
Chaga has long been popular in Russia and Canada and has been used there to boost strength and endurance. A study in the Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2015 showed that mice given china outperformed their counterparts in swimming. Researches said that the mushroom improved the subject’s ability to utilize oxygen and reduced lactic acid formation in the bloodstream.