For centuries, Chaga Mushrooms have been used in Siberia and other parts of Asia for the immunity-boosting and overall health benefits they provide. More recently, they’ve gained attention in the Western world, with people seeking alternative ways to boost their health with medicinal mushrooms. However, their ugly appearance can be somewhat off-putting. Hence the need for a more ‘friendly’ looking supplement - Chaga Mushroom powder, delivering the same level of goodness but in a much more accessible form.
Here we will provide a full introduction to Chaga Mushroom Powder as a health supplement, detailing its uses, benefits and any potential side effects.
Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus) is a type of fungus that naturally infects birch, ash, elm and alder trees growing predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere. Once attached to the host tree, it drains it of its nutrients, sucking up all of its goodness and causing the tree to eventually rot.
This medicinal mushroom has a rather unusual appearance. You could liken it to a clump of burnt charcoal or describe it as a woody wart, and it can grow up to 10-15 inches in size. Inside, it has a soft orange-coloured core.
Chaga Mushrooms have been foraged for centuries as traditional medicine, with an array of health benefits uncovered below…
In Siberia, Chaga Mushroom is known as ‘King of the Mushrooms.’ It has an incredibly nutrient-dense build-up and is packed with over 215 Phytonutrients. What’s more, it is low in calories, extremely high in fibre and supercharged with powerful antioxidant properties.
Research into the benefits of Chaga Mushroom powder is on-going, however, there has been some scientific evidence to suggest that this medicinal mushroom provides the following health benefits.
Back in 1955, the Moscow Medical Institute conducted clinical trials of Chaga Mushroom use, with results showing that it helped raise immune system functions. This evidence has been backed up with further studies (animal and test-tube) showing that Chaga Mushroom extract can positively impact immunity by reducing long-term inflammation, which in turn supports the body in fighting harmful bacteria and viruses.
It is thought that Chaga Mushroom powder benefits the body by promoting the formation of good cytokines. These are specialised proteins that regulate the immune system. Chaga also stimulates white blood cells, necessary to fight off all sorts of infections, from the common cold to serious illnesses.
While promoting the formation of good cytokines, studies have also found that Chaga can prevent the production of bad cytokines, working as an anti-inflammatory. These cytokines are proteins that trigger excessive inflammation, associated with chronic disease.
Chaga goes by many different names around the world. In Norway, it’s called ‘Kreftkjuke’ which interestingly, in English, translates to ‘cancer fungus.’
Both animal and test-tube studies have shown promise of Chaga Mushrooms preventing and fighting off cancer. In a study using mice with cancer, the use of Chaga Mushroom supplements resulted in a 60% reduction in tumour size. A test-tube study also found that Chaga Mushroom extract prevented the growth of cancer in human liver cells. Promising results were observed with breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer cells too.
It is believed Chaga Mushroom powders anti-cancer effects could be due to the powerful antioxidants it contains, which protect against free radicals. In particular, the antioxidant ‘triterpene.’ Studies have found that a very concentrated form of this antioxidant can help to kill cancer cells.
In the spirit of honesty, we must stress that more human studies are required before we can firmly say taking Chaga Mushroom powder can help fight cancer, however, there is evidence backing its potential.
Results from studies with mice have suggested that Chaga Mushroom powder can lower blood sugar levels and therefore, may help manage diabetes.
A study of obese, diabetic mice found that those given Chaga Mushroom extract saw a reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, compared to the diabetic mice who did not receive the supplement.
Another study of diabetic mice also found that using Chaga Mushroom supplements resulted in a 31% decrease in blood sugar levels over 3 weeks.
Chaga Mushroom powder may benefit cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
An 8-week study in rats with high cholesterol showed that Chaga Mushroom extract reduces bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol while increasing antioxidants. Other studies have also found that Chaga extract increases good HDL cholesterol.
It is believed that Chaga Mushroom powder’s strong antioxidant content is responsible for its positive effects on reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
Evidence from animal studies suggests that Chaga Mushroom Powder can reduce oxidative damage and cognitive dysfunction, caused by a plant toxin (scopolamine) to the brain. Chaga Mushroom extract has also been found to restore levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that promotes learning and improves memory.
Oxidative stress we are exposed to by pollution, UV damage and other sources can cause physical signs of ageing, like wrinkles and sagging skin. This is down to the fact they create too many free radicals for the body to neutralise.
Where does Chaga come into this? Well, in theory, by supplying the body with more antioxidants (something which Chaga Mushroom is rich in) it should slow down the ageing process.
As responsible Chaga Mushroom UK sellers, we feel it’s necessary to say that while Chaga is generally well-tolerated, it may interact with some medications. Therefore, if you take insulin or have diabetes, we would suggest speaking to your GP before taking Chaga. The same goes for those on blood-thinning medications, those with a bleeding disorder and anyone preparing for surgery.
Chaga Mushroom has quite a few uses. Here at Mountainlife, we provide 100% natural finely-ground Chaga Mushroom Powder that has been wild harvested from the Altai forests in Siberia. Our Chaga Mushroom is highly nutrient-dense and perfect for creating a traditional tea or adding to a shake or smoothie.
To create a natural Chaga Mushroom tea, we suggest heating 1-2 tsp of Chaga Mushroom powder in water at a low temperature of 75 degrees or less. This will preserve the bioactive ingredients found in Chaga and ensure it retains all of its goodness.
Brew and simmer for anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes. The tea should be dark brown before you strain it and serve.
Chaga Mushroom is pleasant to drink - some people even liken it to the taste of coffee. It’s earthy, slightly bitter but still very smooth and drinkable!
Wondering what to look for when buying from a Chaga Mushroom UK seller?
First up, make sure the Chaga Mushrooms are wild harvested. This means they have been foraged from their natural habitat and not grown in a farm or plantation. The benefit of buying wild harvested Chaga is that it is much more nutritionally-dense and comes from an area that is untouched and free from pollution.
Secondly, check the company you buy from sources Chaga Mushrooms ethically and sustainably. It’s important to remember that Chaga Mushrooms are fungi that become part of the tree. Therefore, if they are harvested at the wrong time or incorrectly, it could damage the tree.
At Mountainlife, we work with families living close to the Altai forest who are experts in foraging and wild harvesting. They know the perfect time to harvest Chaga, they know how to do it ethically and they care about the forest because it’s their home. At the same time as ensuring the trees are treated with respect, we also support the local families and economy.
For more information about our Chaga Mushroom powder or any of our medicinal mushrooms and health supplements, please get in touch. Drop us a DM on social media or email: email@example.com. We’re always happy to chat about our products, their history and benefits, as well as advise you the best we can on supplements to benefit your health concerns.
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