• Dr. Wilde

CHAGA MUSHROOM

Updated: Oct 20, 2019


Chaga mushroom is a medicinal fungus which grows predominantly on birch trees. Chaga has been used for thousands of years. It was widely used as an herbal remedy, however was also used as a fire starter for being such good tinder. When the 5,000 year old human, Ötzi the Iceman, was found frozen in the European Alps in 1991, among the few things he had in his satchel, he had a chunk of a Chaga mushroom with him. Ötzi was also found to have a parasite infection and it is thought that he was using Chaga as a remedy for his illness


Source: Grows wild on birch trees. Indigenous to Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada



Benefits:


Nutrient-Dense Superfood: Packed with a slew of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, Chaga includes the following: B-complex vitamins, Vitamin D, Potassium, Amino Acids, Copper, Selenium, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium and Calcium


Anti-Bacterial + Anti-Fungal: Chaga has proven effective at fighting bacterial and fungal infections


Aids Cognitive Function: Chaga lowers oxidative stress and therefore oxidative stress in the brain. It restores acetylcholine in the brain during oxidative stress, aiding in learning and memory


Lowers Blood Sugar: One of its more renowned benefits is the effects on blood sugar and insulin resistance. Chaga lowers blood glucose and decreases insulin resistance. Further, it slows the absorption of carbohydrates, mitigating glucose spikes in diabetics and insulin resistant individuals. Since oxidative stress contributes to insulin resistance, Chaga is beneficial in allaying the damage with its antioxidant properties


Anti-Inflammatory: Chaga reduces overactive immune responses, decreases inflammation-causing cytokines and reduces inflammation in the enteric system


Lowers LDL 'bad' cholesterol: Chaga has been shown to lower the heart disease causing LDL cholesterol via its antioxidant properties. Chaga has also been shown to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and naturally increases insulin levels in the liver to stimulate glycogen synthesis

Cancer Suppression: Chaga aids the immune system in recognizing cancer cells as harmful. This increases the immune system in responding to the cancerous infection. By reducing oxidative stress, Chaga lowers the risk of altered DNA mutations with its antioxidant properties, preventing genetic onset of cancerous growth


Immune System Boosting: Chaga increases production of immune cells. It aids your body’s immune system in differentiating between its own cells and foreign cells, decreasing the body’s proclivity towards autoimmunity


Anti-Viral: Chaga has been shown to reduce HIV replication as well as Herpes and Epstein-Barr viruses from infecting new cells


Helps Prevent Blood Clots: When blood cells chain together to form clots, it is called “platelet aggregation”. Chaga inhibits platelet aggregation and therefore mitigates against the risk of blood clots.


Increased Physical Endurance: Chaga significantly reduces blood lactate and urea nitrogen levels, both of which contribute to fatigue and soreness. Studies have shown that those taking Chaga are have better physical stamina than the control group



Risks: Due to the effect of lowering blood sugar, anyone taking insulin or blood-lowering medication should monitor their symptoms while taking Chaga. Since Chaga stops platelet aggregation, you should not take it in combination with blood-thinning medications such as aspirin and warfarin


Chaga does have very high levels of oxalates, it should be consumed in moderation for those at risk of kidney stones


In autoimmunity cases, chaga may increase immune system activity, thereby increasing an already overactive inflammatory response. Use with caution in cases of RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and MS (multiple sclerosis)



Sustainability: Chaga needs to be harvested from live birch trees to have health benefits. Chaga harvested from dead birch trees equates to an inactive chaga without purported health benefits. Chaga takes 5 years to grow to a 10 inch diameter, at which size is finally capable of being harvested. But -if you only harvest one to two-thirds of the growth, the mushroom will fully grow back within 2 to 5 years. How it is harvested depends on the forager and harvester. True arborists who care for their craft and trees will act in moderation when harvesting chaga from their trees. Do your research before wild-crafting Chaga to ensure their harvesting and foraging practices are sustainable


Processing: Chaga is harvested in large chunks and then broken into smaller pieces before being dried without heat in a dehydrator. Heat harms the medicinal properties of chaga. It can be consumed in a variety of ways. It is commonly used as a tea. Can be extracted into tinctures. Also ground down into a powder to be taken in capsules

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Resources:


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874115000045?via%3Dihub - Biological activity of Chaga

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21779570 - Effects of Chaga in aiding in cognitive dysfunction

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254627215301266 - Effects on physical endurance

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14786410902751009?journalCode=gnpl20 - Effects on blood sugar

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576913001008?via%3Dihub - Effects on inflammation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/ - Immune boosting effects

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4388940/ - Effects on cancer cells

http://koreascience.or.kr/article/ArticleFullRecord.jsp?cn=POCPA9_2013_v14n3_1571 - Further effects on cancer cells

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946216/ - Cancer suppression



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