Chaga mushrooms provide undeniable health benefits, but how do they stack up against cancer?
We took a deep dive into what the latest research has to say about the anticancer effects of these medicinal mushrooms and were incredibly impressed with the results.
Here’s what science has to say about chaga and cancer.
What are Chaga Mushrooms?
The chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is one of the healthiest medicinal mushrooms in the world. It grows on birch trees and prefers cold climates, which is why it mostly grows in northern Asia, as well as northern areas of Europe and Canada.
Chaga has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and it’s still one of the most praised mushrooms for cancer in alternative medicine.
Certain regions of Siberia have also long relied on chaga as a traditional remedy for all sorts of illness.
Potential Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms
Chaga mushrooms provide an abundance of health benefits. Research indicates that Inonotus obliquus could aid in diabetes management, thanks to its ability to lower blood sugar levels.
In addition to controlling blood sugar, this medicinal mushroom lowers cholesterol levels, boosts the immune system, and keeps your hair and skin healthy.
Chaga exerts an antiinflammatory influence on the body; many people use it to reduce inflammation.
Some of the most widely researched beneficial properties of chaga mushrooms are:
- immunomodulatory effects
- ability to treat skin issues
- anticancer activity
- ability to lower blood pressure
- potential to aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases
- ability to lessen oxidative stress
Bioactive Compounds Found in Chaga Mushrooms
Inonotus obliquus contains over 400 bioactive compounds, all with unique benefits. Some of the most talked-about compounds found in chaga mushrooms are:
- ergosterol peroxide
- betulinic acid
While researchers are only starting to look into the potential of many of these compounds, some are already known to have profound effects. For example, polysaccharides found in chaga fruiting bodies were proven to treat chronic illnesses and prevent metabolic disorders.
Is Chaga Good for Treating Cancer?
Chaga mushrooms cause apoptosis (the process of programmed cell death) of cancer cells and have great potential when it comes to cancer treatment.
A 2010 study looked at the antitumor activity of Inonotus obliquus in human and animal cells. Results show that this medicinal mushroom has the potential to inhibit cancer growth in animal and human cancer cells.
The research on chaga and specific types of cancer is also promising, particularly for breast cancer, liver cancer, and lung cancer, as well as various digestive tract cancers.
Chaga and Breast Cancer
A study published in the 2021 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology examined the effects of chaga mushroom extract on breast cancer.
Results show that the extract of Inonotus obliquus suppressed tumor growth and aided in cancer cell autophagy by activating the AMPK signal pathway. This pathway provides cellular energy homeostasis by regulating pathways that influence glucose and oxygen levels in our cells.
AMPK pathways downregulate mTOR pathways. When mTOR pathways activate, they promote cancer growth and metastasis, while inhibition of these pathways results in lower levels of cancer cell growth and proliferation.
Thus, by activating the AMPK signal pathway, chaga has the potential to provide antitumor effects on breast carcinoma cells.
Chaga and Cervical Cancer
According to an in vitro study, chaga appears to induce apoptosis in human cervical cancer cells. A chaga water extract inhibited cancer growth in cervical cells and slowed down cancer cell division. Although further research is needed, this study shows promising results when it comes to preventing and slowing down the spread of cervical cancer.
Chaga and Cancers of the Digestive System
Chaga extract seems to provide anticancer effects for various digestive cancer types, with research on the effects of chaga on gastric, colon, and colorectal cancers being particularly promising.
Chaga and Gastric Cancer
According to a recent human cell study, a chaga water extract shows highly antiproliferative effects in human gastric cancer cells.
This study compared the effects of chaga mushroom powder on human gastric cancer cells and healthy mouse cells. Chaga mushrooms prevented the spread of malignant cells but didn’t do the same for healthy mouse cells.
Therefore, it seems chaga mushrooms can provide an antitumor effect on cancerous gastric cells without harming healthy cells.
Chaga and Colon Cancer
A 2015 study examined the effects of Inonotus obliquus on human colon cancer cells, with impressive results. The chaga mushroom slowed down the progression of colon cancer by inducing cell cycle arrest at the G1 stage. This suggests that chaga could be a potent natural anti-cancer ingredient, especially when used in combination with traditional cancer therapy.
Chaga and Colorectal Cancer
A 2015 animal study took a closer look at which bioactive compounds found in chaga mushrooms were effective in preventing the spread of cancer. While many chaga compounds showed promising anticancer properties, ergosterol peroxide was found to be particularly useful.
The researchers isolated this compound and examined its effects on colorectal cancer cells. Results show that ergosterol peroxide exerted anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in mice, meaning it prevented the spread of cancer while aiding in its destruction.
Chaga and Lung Cancer
According to a 2018 cell study, chaga mushrooms show promising potential when it comes to lung cancer treatment. The cytotoxic properties of Inonotus obliquus aid in the process of human lung adenocarcinoma cell death.
Therefore, including this mushroom in your diet could prevent and slow the progression of lung cancer, although further research is needed to uncover the exact molecular mechanisms of this chaga benefit.
Chaga and Liver Cancer
Liver cells regenerate and grow our whole life, so if one mutates, the cancer can spread to the rest of the liver very quickly.
According to a 2008 study, chaga mushrooms slow down this process, making these medicinal mushrooms potential anticancer agents in hepatoma treatment.
Inonotus obliquus appears to induce apoptosis of hepatoma HepG2 cells (cancerous cells found in the liver) and induce cell arrest, preventing the cancer from spreading further.
Does Chaga Interfere with Chemotherapy?
Chaga does not interfere with any cancer treatment. On the contrary, this medicinal mushroom can be quite beneficial when you combine it with traditional cancer treatment, such as radiation and chemotherapy.
The success of integrative medicine in recent years shows that traditional, Western medicine works best when combined with a healthy diet and a lifestyle change.
Since chemotherapy drugs attack healthy cells in addition to cancerous ones, the protective properties of chaga could protect healthy cells in your body during cancer treatment. Therefore, including healthy mushrooms, and especially those with anticancer properties, could be incredibly beneficial in your fight against cancer.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Chaga and Cancer
Here’s what we know to date about Inonotus obliquus and cancer:
- Both human cell and animal studies suggest that chaga mushrooms slow the spread of cancer.
- Studies suggest that Inonotus obliquus has apoptotic properties, meaning that it aids in the destruction of malignant cells in the body.
- Chaga was also shown to be beneficial in the treatment of various cancers, including breast, cervical, liver, and lung cancer.
- More human studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms of chaga mushrooms and their effects on cancer.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking chaga mushrooms, it may make sense to include these functional mushrooms into your diet if you are a cancer patient or want to prevent cancer.
Interested inTaking Chaga Mushrooms for Cancer?
If you’re interested in trying chaga mushrooms for cancer prevention or treatment, what better way to do so than a delicious bowl of cereal?
Forij Superfood Granola is a vegan and gluten-free granola with high-quality, organic ingredients. It contains a hyperconcentrated chaga mushroom powder, as well as lion’s mane and cordyceps mushrooms, which pack an abundance of benefits, as well.
You can choose from three delicious flavors: sunflower seed cacao, cinnamon, and vanilla almond. Or get a bundle with all three flavors if you can’t decide on just one!
Chaga and Cancer FAQ
Who should not drink chaga tea?
Chaga mushroom tea is completely safe for healthy individuals. However, if you have a bleeding disorder, it’s best to avoid chaga mushrooms, as well as other adaptogenic mushrooms. Many medicinal mushrooms, including chaga, slow down blood clotting, which could lead to excess bleeding if you get hurt. Additionally, chaga is a high-oxalate food, so you should control how much of it you take if you have kidney issues.
Does chaga boost the immune system?
Yes, according to a 2005 animal study, chaga does boost immunity. This study looked at the immunity differences in immunosuppressed mice that were given a chaga aqueous extract and those that were not. Results show that this mushroom stimulated the production of white blood cells and acted as a potent immunity enhancer.
How much chaga should I take daily?
That depends on what form of chaga nutritional supplements you are taking. If you are taking chaga powder, one or two tablespoons every day should be enough.
If you prefer chaga tea or foods fortified with chaga, you should follow the chaga dosage recommendations and instructions provided by the company, as every brand contains a different amount of this mushroom.
Your best bet is to combine a chaga mushroom supplement with a food fortified with this mushroom in order to make sure you’re getting enough chaga every day.
What happens if you drink too much chaga tea?
Drinking a lot of chaga tea is not dangerous for generally healthy people. You may experience digestive issues such as diarrhea and digestive discomfort, but these side effects will likely pass within a day.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by healthcare professionals or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).