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Chaga Mushroom Guide

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Medicinal mushrooms, including Chaga, are among the most exciting topics in natural health and holistic wellness right now. We cover everything you should know about Chaga mushroom, including what it is, its benefits, and why you might add it to your health routine.

Our picks for the best Chaga supplements are listed here, and we go into more detail about each below. Clicking on the link will take you to the product page for each of our picks on Amazon. 

Best Chaga Mushroom Supplements

1.) Host Defense Chaga Capsules 

2.) Real Mushrooms Chaga Powder

3.) Host Defense Chaga Extract

4.) Sayan Siberian Raw Chaga Mushroom Chunks

5.) Chagaccino by Renude

6.) Baikal Tea Chaga Tea

What Is Chaga Mushroom?

So, what is Chaga mushroom?

  • Chaga mushroom is a fungus growing primarily on birch trees in cold climates. 
  • Chaga mushroom is a traditional medicine and folk medicine that may boost immunity and is high in antioxidants. 
  • There’s evidence as a dietary supplement, it can help with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 
  • You can use Chaga as a powder or a capsule supplement. Many people also make Chaga tea.
  • When you take Chaga with cold or warm water, it may help boost the medicinal properties
  • Many Chaga supplements and mushroom teas include a combination of mushrooms, like reishi or cordyceps.
  • Chaga is also known as birch conk, cinder conk, and clinker polypore.

These mushrooms are sometimes known as black gold, and they’ve been used in Russia and Northern Europe as traditional medicines for hundreds of years. Along with looking like burned wood, these interesting mushrooms can grow in a clump as big as a head.

To break down the cell wall and make it usable by humans, Chaga mushroom needs alcohol or hot water.

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Image Source: Pixabay

Health Benefits of Chaga Mushroom

There are many potential health benefits of Chaga tea and Chaga supplements. Below we go into some of those.

Combats Inflammation

This type of mushroom, which looks more like a clump of dirt than perhaps a mushroom, may help fight inflammation. 

  • When we’re sick or injured, our bodies produce inflammation. That’s part of a healthy healing response. 
  • However, for many people, inflammation goes from a short-term to a long-term issue. 
  • That then becomes a chronic health problem. 
  • The root of many chronic illnesses is ongoing inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one example, but others like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Even mood disorders like depression may have links to chronic inflammation.

Boosts Your Immune System

When you take this type of mushroom, it can have positive effects on your immune system. Along with combating long-term inflammation, it can help your white blood cells become more effective at fighting viruses and bacteria.

Interestingly, while in test-tube and animal studies, Chaga reduces harmful cytokines, it can also increase beneficial cytokines. Helpful cytokines are the proteins that regulate our immune system and stimulate white blood cells to fight off harmful invaders.

In a study published in 2015, Chaga had an antiviral effect on HIV. In animal studies, the mushrooms also have antiviral effects on hepatitis C.

Nutrient-Dense

What makes medicinal mushrooms especially compelling is that they aren’t supplements. Yes you can take them in supplemental form, but the reality is they’re naturally occurring food sources. Mushrooms like Chaga are rich in vitamins, nutrients and minerals.

For example, this particular type of mushroom is high in B vitamins, vitamin D, potassium and amino acids. They also have copper, fiber, magnesium, and calcium.

When you get nutrients from food sources, your body tends to better absorb and use them effectively.

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Image Source: Pixabay

Slow Signs of Aging

When we see outward signs of aging, like gray hair and wrinkles, it’s often the result of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes from free radical exposure. We face exposure to free radicals from the sun, pollution, and other damaging elements of our environment.

These are things that speed up the outward signs of aging, such as sagging skin and wrinkles.

By fueling your body with antioxidants, which this mushroom is very high in, you can slow the aging process or perhaps even reverse some of these visible signs.

Reduces Blood Sugar

Some animal studies show the potential of Chaga mushroom tea and other types of the supplement to help lower blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. There was a recent study in obese mice with diabetes that found taking a Chaga extract reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance in comparison to mice with diabetes not receiving the supplement.

In another study diabetic rats taking Chaga supplements had a 31% decrease in blood sugar levels during three weeks.

Other studies have found similar results, but there’s not a lot of human research yet.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

Experiments, particularly in animals, have found an anti-cancer potential in the Chaga mushroom. Particular types of cancer studied include:

  • Lung
  • Colon/colorectal
  • Cervical
  • Melanoma
  • Prostate
  • Breast
  • Liver

In a study in Korea, Chaga could inhibit the cell progression of certain human colon cancer cells. In a separate study, the hot water extract of Chaga had inhibitory activity against that same type of human colon cancer cell.

In a Chinese study, inotodial, a compound isolated from Chaga, helped prevent the proliferation of human cervical cancer cells.

An experimental study at Tianjin University in China found certain parts of the Chaga mushroom had cytotoxic effects on prostate and cancer cell lines.

In a study of mice with cancer, a Chaga supplement led to a 60% reduction in tumor size. In a test-tube study, Chaga prevents human liver cell growth.

Researchers think Chaga’s antioxidant effects are primarily what creates the anti-cancer effects. In particular, there’s something called triterpene. Test-tube studies show that concentrated triterpene extract may kill cancer cells.

While it looks promising, it’s important to remember the studies above are in animals and test tubes, and human studies need to be done.

Cholesterol-Lowering Effects

Chaga may help reduce cholesterol levels, which can, in turn reduce the risk of heart disease. In an eight-week study with high cholesterol rats, the Chaga extract reduced their bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. Triglyceride levels also went down, while antioxidant levels went up.

It’s likely the presence of antioxidants that helps Chaga have cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Prevention of Drug Side Effects

Early research shows that the use of medicinal mushrooms including Chaga could help prevent side effects of certain medicines. For example, researchers are looking at the possibility that using this type of mushroom could prevent side effects from treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.

Are There Side Effects to Be Aware Of?

Overall, Chaga is considered very safe on its own and well-tolerated. There are considerations to keep in mind however. These include:

  • Chaga can interact with certain medications like insulin. You should be cautious before using any supplement when you take a medicine, and you should talk to your healthcare provider first.
  • There’s a protein in this type of mushroom that may prevent blood clotting. Use caution if you’re on a blood-thinner, are preparing for surgery, or have a bleeding disorder.
  • There’s no currently available research on the safety of this mushroom for women who are breastfeeding or pregnant.

When you’re buying any supplement, you should only buy from reputable manufacturers. Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, making it very important that you ensure the company has a good reputation and quality control standards. We’ll list some of our picks for the best Chaga tea and other supplements below.

Image Source: Pixabay

Can You Take Chaga If You Have an Autoimmune Disorder?

I was especially interested in researching this article to learn more about Chaga and its potential benefits if you have an autoimmune disorder. The idea that Chaga stimulates the immune system leaves people wondering if they can take it if they have autoimmune dysfunction.

First, this is not medical advice, and you should always speak to your doctor before taking anything, but I was able to find some exciting research on the topic.

  • Chaga mushrooms and many other medicinal mushrooms appear to be immunomodulators. 
  • They can modulate immune responses depending on the situation or the person. For example, if you have an overactive immune system, it’s possible Chaga could help reduce the inflammation that creates. 
  • On the other hand, if you have an underactive immune system, the mushroom might help increase your white blood cells to better fight invaders like viruses and bacteria.
  • The world of natural immunomodulators is fascinating and being studied quite a bit right now.

The immunomodulating effects of the active substances in medicinal mushrooms are likely because of the activation of immune effector cells.

  • Immune effector cells include lymphocytes, macrophages and natural killer cells.
  • Research also shows mushrooms can modulate the differentiation capability of CD4+ T cells so that they properly mature.
  • As a result, certain mushroom extracts may help with chronic T-cell and allergic T-cell mediated diseases. 
  • There have also been immunosuppressive effects of mushrooms found. 
  • The anticancer benefits of Chaga may be due to the immunomodulating effects in fact.

How to Take Chaga Mushroom

One of the most popular ways to take Chaga is in tea, but there are other options.

Chaga tends to mix well with hot water and beverages made with hot water, which is why tea is such a common way to take it. You can simply add your Chaga to a cup of tea or coffee, or you can buy Chaga tea specifically. You can also add it to a cup of hot water and put some lemon in it. Putting it in your morning coffee is a great way to give it a healthy boost.

You might use about three grams of mushroom powder in anywhere from six to eight ounces of liquid.

The Best Time to Take Chaga Mushroom

There’s not really a best time to take this mushroom because it’s beneficial any time. 

  • You can have it first thing in the morning with your typical mug of coffee or tea to give your body a healthy boost. This type of mushroom can be energizing.
  • You can have anywhere from one to three cups of Chaga beverages a day, including later in the afternoon if you want a pick-me-up.
  • It’s good to determine if it’s a stimulating mushroom for you, so you can figure out how late in the day you can take it without interruption to your sleep.
  • If you add mushroom to your coffee, it can take some acidity out of it, and people may like the earthiness it can add to the flavor.

Chaga Tea

As we’ve talked about, Chaga tea is a popular way to get the benefits of this supplement. There are a lot of ways you can make tea. You can use whole mushroom chunks by cutting them and then putting them in a diffuser with boiled water. You can then let them steep for three minutes and add flavoring like maple syrup if you’d like.

You can also grind the mushroom into a powder or buy it already made into a powder and add it to your beverage.

What Are the Best Chaga Mushroom Products?

Below we highlight some of our favorite Chaga mushroom Amazon products and a few features we like about each.

host defense chaga capsules
Find out why Host Defense Mushrooms Chaga Capsules are the best of this type of mushroom supplement.

The Host Defense Chaga capsules are one of our favorite products for this type of mushroom because we love the Host Defense Mushrooms brand. In my opinion, it’s the best line of mushroom supplements, headed up by Paul Stamets of Fantastic Fungi fame. The products in the Host Defense lineup are all very high quality and are produced in the U.S.

  • Antioxidant support
  • Made with activated, freeze-dried mycelium, which provides immune-supporting polysaccharides
  • Take two capsules a day with food or on an empty stomach
  • Sustainably-cultivated mushrooms
  • Mushrooms are certified organic and grown in the U.S.
  • Provide myco-nutrients
  • Supports cellular health
  • According to customer reviews, these Chaga mushroom capsules helped many people dealing with the side effects of cancer and chemotherapy
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Image Source: Amazon

Real Mushroom’s Chaga Powder is a good option if you want to add your mushroom powder to smoothies or other beverages and have flexibility in how you consume it. This brand is high-quality much like Host Defense, and the powder itself is organic and non-GMO.

  • Contains scientifically verified compounds
  • Verified levels of beta-glucans
  • No grain, starch, or fillers
  • 100% pure Chaga extract
  • Harvested by experts with more than 40 years of mushroom-growing experience
  • Manufactured in the U.S.
  • High levels of bioavailable nutrients in very serving because of a hot water extraction process
  • Beta-glucans are what support our immune system, and every batch contains more than 20%
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Image Source: Amazon

This is the same as the Host Defense Chaga above, except it comes in a liquid extract. It provides the same antioxidant support and is made with activated mushroom mycelium for maximum potency Again, Host Defense Mushrooms is Paul Stamets company, so you can have the peace of mind of knowing you’re getting the highest quality products.

  • Host Defense Mushrooms is Paul Stamets company
  • Easy-to-use liquid extract
  • Can be added to hot or cold beverages
  • Extract facilitates maximum rapid absorption
  • Mushrooms used in the extract are sustainably grown
  • Certified organic, grown in the U.S.
  • Protects against free radical damage
  • Promotes a robust immune system
  • According to customer reviews, many people feel like the liquid Chaga extract helped boost their immune system during chemo
  • You’ll find quite a few users who say they’ve been taking this product for years and love it
  • Reviews say this helps promote calm and mental well-being
chaga, chaga mushroom, chaga tea
Image Source: Amazon

These are high-quality, whole mushroom chunks that you can use any way that’s best for you. For example, you can brew tea with them or create your own powder. What’s great about these wild-harvested mushroom chunks is that you know you’re getting purity with no filler since it’s coming straight from the whole mushroom.

  • Liver, immune, and heart health support
  • Premium wild forest harvested
  • One pound of raw Chaga mushroom chunks in each bag
  • Non-GMO
  • Harvested from forests of Siberia
  • Every package has a complete black crust, which is one of the most beneficial parts of the medicinal mushroom
  • Processed through a pharmaceutical-grade herb dryer
  • Requires brewing and doesn’t require cutting or sawing
  • No powdery mess
  • Each chunk can be brewed up to two times for tea
  • Powerful combination of beta-glucans and polysaccharides
chaga
Image Source: Amazon

This top-rated Chaga superfood coffee includes Ceylon cinnamon, monk fruit and cacao. It’s keto-friendly with no calories, and it’s the perfect thing to add to your coffee for a mental and physical boost. The Chaga is wild-foraged from sustainable farms in Siberia and Canada. The Chaga is freeze-dried instead of using chemical sprays.

  • Easy to use—just add a pack to favorite tea, latte, smoothie, a cup of coffee or matcha
  • One gram of this wild-foraged Chaga has more antioxidants than three pounds of blueberries
  • Helps relieve stress thanks to adaptogens
  • Doesn’t taste like mushrooms—instead, it tastes light and sweet with hints of mocha
  • Have it hot or cold
  • Contains more than 215 phytonutrients, minerals, and trace minerals
  • No fillers or solvents, and sugar-free
  • Each dose contains 750 mg of Chaga
  • Company is based in Los Angeles

If you want tea with Chaga mushroom where the work is done for you, this option from Baikal Tea is excellent. The mushrooms used to make this tea are hand-picked and organic. Each package comes with 30 unbleached tea bags. The teabags don’t have any additives.

  • The tea grows 100% wild in Siberia
  • The mushrooms are hand-picked from Lake Baikal, which is considered the planet’s cleanest lake
  • Baikal Tea has the exclusive rights to gather the fungi and herbs from the land surrounding Lake Baikal
  • You can brew the tea as you would normally, or you can open the bag and add it to smoothies or other beverages
  • No caffeine
  • Soothing, earthy flavor
  • Reviews say the taste is excellent and full-bodied
  • Users say the tea gives them a clean burst of energy and digestive support

How Is Chaga Different From Other Types of Mushrooms?

There are a few medicinal mushrooms that are incredibly popular because of their many health benefits. We go into a few comparisons below.

  • Lion’s mane is a unique mushroom that primarily affects your brain and nervous system. You’re going to get the most cognitive benefits from taking lion’s mane compared to Chaga or other medicinal and adaptogen mushrooms. Lion’s mane is most like a nootropic, so you might see that you get a mood boost, better concentration, and improvements in memory. Lion’s mane can benefit users because it increases blood flow and circulation to the brain. This potent nootropic mushroom can also increase the production of Nerve Growth Factor in the Brain. Nerve Growth Factor promotes healing and regrowth of neurons.
  • As we’ve touched on Chaga, is one of the best mushroom supplements if you’re interested in immune help. This might include protecting your immunity in the winter from viruses or modulating an overactive immune response stemming from inflammation. Chaga has antioxidants, polyphenols and other medicinal compounds that are great for your immune health.
  • Reishi is massively popular right now, and it’s often described as calming and promoting an overall sense of well-being. Reishi has long been a spiritual herb in traditional medicine. If you’re an overthinker or you deal with anxiety, reishi might be worth trying. Reishi is also suitable for liver function, and it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Cordyceps gives energy, but for most people does so without being too stimulating. Cordyceps is great if you work out hard or you’re an athlete. Cordyceps can also have sexual benefits.
  • Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom most known for its anti-cancer properties. Part of the ability of turkey tail to help with cancer may be due to its antioxidants, but there’s more to it than that. Turkey tail has something called polysaccharide-K or PSK. PSK stimulates the immune system. In Japan, PSK is an anticancer prescription drug. There’s some evidence turkey tail helps improve survival rates in people with some cancers and leukemia. Turkey tail may also strengthen the immune system during chemotherapy, but don’t take any supplements during cancer treatment without speaking to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we put together some answers to the most common questions people have about these beneficial mushrooms. 

What is Chaga?

Chaga is a medicinal mushroom that was part of many folk remedies. In Siberia and parts of Asia, This particular mushroom has been used for centuries to help the immune system and general health. These mushrooms are commonly used as a tea, but you can also take them in supplement form as powders or capsules.

These mushrooms are also known by other names, including:

  • Black mass
  • Clinker polypore
  • Birch canker polypore
  • Cinder conk

Chaga produces a conk, which is a woody growth. The growth looks like burnt charcoal. The inside of the mushroom is soft and orange.

What is Chaga Good For?

Chaga has some potential health benefits, including helping with certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes. Chaga is excellent at reducing inflammation, which is important because chronic inflammation is the root of most chronic illnesses.

Research shows Chaga can promote the formation of beneficial cytokines that fight off bacteria and viruses. At the same time, it may modulate your body’s production of harmful cytokines that trigger inflammation.

Several test-tube studies have found Chaga can prevent or slow cancer growth, and the anti-inflammatory component also helps with the anticancer properties. 

How to Prepare Chaga

If you don’t want to worry about preparing Chaga, you can buy a supplement that’s ready to use. These come as capsules or tinctures. You can take the tincture extract on its own or add it to any beverage you’d like.

There are also prepared Chaga powders available, which you can mix into a hot or cold beverage or a smoothie.

Along with Chaga tea bags, you can buy the mushroom whole and then steep it with hot water to release the medicinal properties. You can flavor it as you like, with honey, maple syrup or whatever you want.

Final Thoughts

Medicinal mushrooms have so many benefits, and it’s a topic that’s worth exploring if you’re interested in natural or holistic health. The benefits of Chaga mushroom and Chaga tea are powerful, and the above products we highlighted are a great introduction to these many benefits.

 

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