The History and Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms
What are Chaga Mushrooms?
Sometimes called "Gift from God," Chaga mushroom is a fungus that grows primarily on birch trees in cold climates. With an appearance similar to burnt charcoal, it has been harvested for centuries as a traditional medicine. It can't be eaten as it is too hard- therefore it is typically ground into powder and used in tea or supplements .
Chaga is also a mushroom of many names :
- Inonotus obliquus
- Black mass
- Clinker polypore
- Birch canker polypore
- Cinder conk
History of Chaga Mushrooms
Since the 16th century, Chaga has been used in folk and botanical medicine throughout Eastern Europe. The name Chaga originates from the Russian word for mushroom (czaga) which is derived from the word for fungus.
Use of Chaga in Chinese medicine dates back thousands of years where locals in the mountain region of Siberia drank Chaga tea daily, inhaled Chaga and used it on the skin. Over time its popularity spread to the west of the Urai Mountains and Baltic regions of Eastern Europe .
Long term inflammation is linked to causing rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Animal and test-tube studies suggest that chaga extract can positively impact immunity by reducing long-term inflammation and fighting harmful bacteria and viruses.
Chaga promotes the formation of cytokines (specialized proteins that regulate the immune system) stimulating white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off harmful bacteria/viruses .
Additionally, other animal and test-tube studies demonstrate that Chaga can prevent the production of harmful cytokines, which trigger inflammation and are associated with disease .
Can Fight Cancer
In a test-tube study, Chaga extract prevented the growth of cancer in human liver cells. Similar results were observed with cancer cells of the lung, breast, prostate and colon
It’s thought that the anticancer effect of Chaga is partly due to its high content of antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by free radicals .
Lowers Blood Sugar
Chaga's antioxidant properties may help combat oxidation and lower blood pressure. In addition to regulating the immune system, the types of beta-d-glucans* found in chaga have also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels .
*Beta-glucans are sugars that are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, such as oats and barley. They are sometimes used as medicine. Beta-glucans are most commonly used for heart disease and high cholesterol .
Chaga mushrooms contain many antioxidants that may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad” cholesterol. High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease, so Chaga mushrooms could be useful in the fight against cardiovascular disease .
Oxidative stress causes physical signs of aging, and supplying the body with more antioxidants could slow the aging process, or even reverse visible signs of aging .
Research also suggests that oxidative stress is a contributing factor for high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more prone to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular health issues .
Chaga can serve as an alternative for caffeine because it is rich in polysaccharides, a chemical compound that causes long-term energy improvements. Chaga provides a more gradual boost of energy throughout the day, allowing you to perform at your best for much longer .
Chaga is a unique mushroom that comes with many health benefits. This mushroom is great for your immune system as well as your heart health as it lowers cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
The recommended dose of Chaga is 1-2 6oz cups of brewed tea daily, as it is too hard to eat on its own and needs to be ground into powder.
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8. BETA-GLUCANS: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews. (2021). Retrieved 28 October 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1041/beta-glucans
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