Mushrooms and other forms of fungi may have made it onto the 2020 superfood list thanks to their adaptogen properties. But there’s nothing new about using mushrooms for their many health benefits. In fact, as the varied and vast history of medicinal mushrooms shows, many cultures have been doing this for centuries.
One such fabulous fungus is the chaga mushroom. Chaga mushrooms grow on birch trees in very cold climates and are far from appealing to look at. But, as with most medicinal mushrooms, it’s best to ingest chaga mushrooms in powder form. This way you can enjoy their many health benefits while sipping on a smoothie with an added charge of chaga.
But what is chaga mushroom good for exactly? Keep reading to find out the top chaga mushroom health benefits.
1. Helps Manage Stress
As we mentioned above, chaga mushrooms are one of many different adaptogens. As the name suggests, adaptogens help our bodies adapt to and resist a variety of stressors. In turn, this promotes internal balance and calm in the face of our stressful modern world.
As an adaptogen, one of the top chaga mushroom benefits is its ability to help your body cope with emotional and physical stress. Experts believe a chaga compound adjusts your body’s physiological responses to excess stress. As a result, chaga mushrooms keep everything functioning as it should be for optimal health.
This can then help reduce anxiety, promote better sleep, and boost mood. So, while sipping on a cup of tea can be a calming experience, make that a chaga mushroom tea for even more benefits.
2. Controls Blood Sugar
Another of the top chaga mushroom powder benefits is its potential to control blood sugar levels and help manage diabetes.
Animal studies show promising evidence in support of these claims. In one such study, chaga mushroom extract reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance in diabetic mice.
In a similar study, diabetic mice showed a 31 percent decrease in blood sugar levels over a three week period of taking chaga supplements. Another study using diabetic rats also saw promising support for taking chaga supplements. As a result, the researchers stated that chaga mushrooms could be a “valuable therapeutic option against diabetes.”
It’s unclear whether chaga mushrooms would have the same positive effects for humans with diabetes. But, these animal studies suggest that chaga mushrooms could help control blood sugar levels in humans too.
3. Boosts Immunity and Fights Inflammation
Inflammation is part of your body’s natural response in the fight against disease. But long-term inflammation isn’t good for your body. In some cases, it can lead to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.
Like reishi, lion’s man, and other forms of fungi, one of the many chaga mushroom benefits is its positive impact on your immune system. Chaga mushrooms boost your immune system by stimulating white blood cells. They also promote the formation of specialized proteins called cytokines.
All this allows chaga mushrooms to reduce long-term inflammation while helping the body fight harmful viruses and bacteria. Animal studies also show that chaga mushrooms can block the release of harmful, inflammatory cytokines and can help reduce gut damage
These findings highlight the chaga mushroom’s potential to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses without the need for your body to resort to prolonged periods of inflammation. What’s more, chaga mushrooms are full of antioxidants. These help slow down the ageing process, fight free radicals, and prevent damage from oxidative stress.
Although, this immune system boost may not be suitable for everyone. While there are no known chaga mushroom side effects, a more active immune system could be dangerous for those with autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. As such, it’s important to seek medical advice before taking chaga mushrooms.
4. Lower Cholesterol
As well as helping to fight inflammation, the antioxidants in chaga mushrooms may help to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. They could even reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other forms of heart disease.
In one study, rats with high cholesterol given chaga mushroom extract had reduced LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time, researchers noted how the rats’ antioxidant levels increased. In a similar study on diabetic mice, chaga extract also increased levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. This then suggests that the chaga mushroom benefits heart health in several different ways. Although, more research is necessary to see how these effects work in the human body.
5. Prevents and Fights Cancer
One of the most impressive chaga mushroom benefits has to be its potential to prevent and slow cancer growth.
In one study, mice taking chaga mushroom supplements showed a 60 percent reduction in tumor size compared to the control group. Test tube studies have also shown promising results with various forms of cancer. Here, researchers showed how chaga extract prevented the growth of cancer cells in the colon, as well as in the liver, lungs, breast, and prostate.
Researchers believe that chaga’s anticancer power lies in its high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect cells from damage by free radicals. In particular, chaga contains the powerful antioxidant triterpene. In high concentrations, triterpene extract kills cancer cells by causing them to self-destruct. Although, more research is necessary for us to better understand how chaga mushrooms could help fight cancer in humans.
The Top Chaga Mushroom Health Benefits
You might not have heard of the chaga mushroom before. But we’re betting that you’re keen to know more after learning about these amazing chaga mushroom health benefits.
From fighting cancer to lowering cholesterol, reducing stress to controlling blood sugar, this fantastic fungus sure is a powerful force of nature!
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