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Potential Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms

Wild Canadian Chaga Elixir

The studies thus far on the health benefits of chaga are encouraging, though scientists say a lot more research is necessary.

“Chaga can be supportive in cancer treatment. It can assist in lowering blood pressurecholesterol, and blood sugar, and it can also help the immune system by regulating the cytokines that help increase the immune fighter cells like white blood cells,” says Rossia Parrish, a licensed naturopathic doctor with Boulder Natural Health in Boulder, Colorado.

The caveat is that researchers have conducted only laboratory and animal studies. There haven’t been any human-based clinical trials to assess chaga’s safety, efficacy, or dosage for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease, cancer diabetes, and other diseases.

Still, people are using chaga mushrooms on their own or under the care of a naturopathic doctor to boost immunity, improve overall health, and support the efforts of treating medical conditions.

Inflammation and immunity

Both animal and test-tube studies in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found reduced inflammation and increased antibacterial and antiviral properties through chaga’s ability to increase white blood cells. But without studies in humans, it’s too early to say whether it could work for you.

The findings are intriguing: White blood cells are the body’s main defense against viruses and bacteria, according to Dana Hunnes, PhD, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. They help your body fight off bacteria and viruses, keeping you healthy.


The same research found that chaga mushrooms reduced and prevented the production of cytokines, which are markers for inflammation.


Chaga’s most acclaimed attribute is its purported antitumor activities. It’s been harvested and used to treat cancer in several countries, according to Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma: Approaches to Treatment. But again, human studies have yet to support this finding.

“Animal and test-tube studies show that Chaga can prevent and perhaps even slow down cancer cell growth,” says Hunnes, who is also a professor at the Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles.

One study in mice showed a 60 percent reduction in tumor size, and a test-tube study of human cells from livers, lungs breastsprostates, and colons, showed that chaga prevented the growth of cancer cells, according to Hunnes.


Managing blood sugar is essential for people with diabetes. When blood sugar levels are consistently high, it causes damage to vital organs, the eyes, and the nerves, and it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

People are intrigued by the potential of chaga for managing blood sugar, but so far it’s only been tested in mice.

In a study published in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, researchers fed chaga mushroom extract to a group of overweight mice with type 2 diabetes. Compared with mice who didn’t eat chaga, the mushroom-eating mice had  reduced blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.


With chaga’s high concentration of antioxidants, it may help people who have high cholesterol. This, in turn, could help protect against clogged arteries and heart disease.


In the same Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy study mentioned above, overweight mice with type 2 diabetes that ate chaga mushroom extract had reduced LDL “bad” cholesterol and increased HDL “good” cholesterol

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