We often get asked about the beneficial effects of chaga for inflammation.
Upon taking a close look at what the current research has to say, we found the anti-inflammatory potential of chaga quite impressive.
Here’s how chaga mushrooms can benefit those with chronic inflammation.
What are Chaga Mushrooms?
Inonotus obliquus, better known as the chaga mushroom, is a medicinal fungus that grows on birch trees. It prefers cold climates and mostly grows in northern Europe, Asia, and Canada.
Chaga mushrooms have been a staple in alternative medicine for centuries. Certain regions of Siberia have long relied on these adaptogenic mushrooms to treat various issues, and they’re still incredibly popular, especially in skin care.
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 (especially LDL cholesterol), appears to fight cancer and boost the immune system, and promotes overall health of your hair and skin.
Chaga exerts an antiinflammatory influence on the body; many people use it to reduce inflammation.
Potential health benefits of chaga mushrooms include:
- immunomodulatory effects
- weight loss and weight management
- slowing cancer by reducing the growth of cancer cells and encouraging apoptosis
- ability to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease
- potential to aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases
- anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to lessen oxidative stress
There seem to be no studies indicating negative effects of chaga mushrooms, and centuries of use suggests that this mushroom is completely safe. Still, you should be cautious of certain drug interactions when consuming chaga.
In a 2006 study, a chaga extract inhibited platelet aggregation, leading to slow blood clotting. In healthy individuals, this results in a reduced risk of blood clots. However, if you have a bleeding disorder or are having surgery soon, chaga mushrooms may increase the risk of bleeding.
Although there is no evidence that chaga could be unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding people, many also choose to avoid chaga (and other adaptogenic mushrooms, such as lion’s mane and the reishi mushroom) during pregnancy.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to a perceived threat or danger. Essentially, your body releases white blood cells which contain chemicals that protect your body from infections. Unfortunately, it can get out of control and cause chronic health issues.
Your body releases special cells and substances into your bloodstream when it senses a threat. These threats can be from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria; they can also be damage to the body, such as a splinter, wound, or burn.
The five most common symptoms of inflammation are:
- heat to touch
- loss of function
What is the Main Cause of Inflammation in the Body?
The most common cause of inflammation is the presence of bacteria or viruses in the body. However, autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, could cause your body to attack its own healthy tissue, leading to inflammation. Allergies, as well as exposure to harmful chemicals, can also cause inflammation.
Why is Inflammation Bad?
Short-term inflammation is good. It’s the chronic type that’s bad.
Ideally, the body triggers an inflammatory response in response to a problem, neutralizes the threat, and returns to normal.
Often, however, folks have ongoing inflammation, not in response to a specific threat, but as a “new normal.”
Many people today have chronic inflammation in their body, whether in the full-blown manifestation as one of the many diagnosable autoimmune diseases, or as a more low-grade form. Poor diet, stress, toxins, or other triggers can keep the immune system releasing inflammatory cells.
Ongoing inflammation can cause any of the following symptoms and issues:
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Hardening of the arteries
- Blood clotting
- Lower back pain
- Insulin resistance
- Joint stiffness and joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
The following health conditions are directly correlated with chronic inflammation:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Graves disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
Chronic inflammation is really bad. Fortunately, lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes, can often help reduce it.
Can Chaga Cause Inflammation?
No, chaga mushrooms don’t cause inflammation. On the contrary, according to various clinical studies, chaga medicinal mushrooms appear to ease inflammatory processes in the body.
For example, a test-tube study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology examined the effects of an Inonotus obliquus alcoholic extract on carrageenan-induced edema.
The mushroom extract appeared to provide anti-inflammatory activities up to four hours after it was administered.
How Does Chaga Fight Inflammation?
In a 2019 animal study, compounds found in chaga fruiting bodies were found to attenuate histamine-induced microvascular inflammation.
On a microvascular level, inflammation can negatively impact cell-to-cell communication and even cause cardiovascular illnesses if prolonged.
The chaga mushroom contains several compounds that appear to alleviate microvascular inflammation.
These results are promising and warrant further research into the exact mechanisms of chaga and its effects on inflammation.
Chaga for Colitis-related Inflammation
An animal study examined the effects of Inonotus obliquus mushroom extract on ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory illness.
Mice that were given a chaga extract showed lower levels of inflammation than their counterparts. These mice had low levels of pro-inflammatory compounds immunoglobulin (Ig)E and IgA in the spleen.
They also showed fewer signs of inflammation-induced colonic tissue destruction. Thus, Inonotus obliquus could be a potent anti-inflammatory agent and a natural alternative in the treatment of chronic inflammatory illnesses.
Anti-inflammatory Chaga Benefits for Skin
Chaga has been used in skin care for centuries, as it appears to ease inflammation-related skin issues and protect against sun damage.
A clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications examined the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of chaga and birch sap on the skin.
Betulinic acid, found in birch sap, and many compounds found in chaga (such as ergosterols, inotodiol, lanosterol, and trametenolic acid) were confirmed to protect the skin, ease inflammation, and repair damage caused by UV rays.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Chaga and Inflammation
Here's what we know to date about the effects of chaga on inflammation:
- Chaga mushrooms appear to ease inflammation, according to in-vivo and in-vitro studies.
- According to an animal study, Inonotus obliquus attenuates histamine-induced microvascular inflammation.
- Inonotus obliquus appears to alleviate symptoms of chronic inflammatory illnesses, especially ulcerative colitis.
- Compounds found in chaga seem to provide anti-inflammatory and protective effects on the skin and repair skin damage.
- More human studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms of chaga mushrooms and their effects on inflammation.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking chaga mushrooms, it may make sense to include them as a complementary natural medicine for managing chronic inflammation.
Are You Interested in Taking Chaga for Inflammation?
If you’re interested in reaping the chaga mushroom health benefits, including its anti-inflammatory effects, why not have it with your breakfast?
With our mushroom granola, you get a daily dose of chaga, as well as lion’s mane and cordyceps mushrooms (which have anti-inflammatory properties of their own).
The Forij mushroom granola is vegan, gluten-free, and contains organic, high-quality ingredients. What more could you ask for in a delicious bowl of cereal you’ll be excited to eat every morning?
How Much Chaga Mushroom is in Forij Granola?
Forij granola uses a high-quality chaga extract made from whole medicinal mushrooms. Our dual extraction method extracts both water-soluble beta-glucans as well as alcohol-soluble triterpenes. Our decoction process breaks down indigestible chitin cell walls of the mushroom to get much more of these compounds out than ordinary processes do.
One serving of our granola provides 250 mg of hyperconcentrated chaga extract, which is eight times more concentrated than a regular chaga supplement. Therefore, you get as much chaga potency as you would if you were taking a 2000 mg mushroom powder supplement, all in one bowl of granola.
Chaga Dosage for Inflammation
The chaga dosage you should take for inflammation depends on which mushroom products you’re using. Follow directions given by the brand, especially if you’re new to adaptogens. When it comes to Forij granola, one serving per day, which equates to around 2000 mg of chaga in powder form, is enough to fight chronic inflammation.
Chaga and Inflammation FAQ
How long does it take for chaga to work?
You need to take chaga every day for about two to three weeks before you start noticing results. Over time and with regular use, its effects will be more pronounced, especially if you’re taking the medicinal mushroom for its ability to prevent cardiovascular disease and slow cancer spread.
Who should not drink chaga tea?
Chaga mushroom tea is one of the best coffee alternatives and is completely safe for healthy individuals. However, if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners, 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.
What are the two sides of chaga?
Due to its popularity, people are overharvesting chaga. Unfortunately, overharvesting can lead to the species going extinct. If you don't want to contribute to overharvesting, make sure to buy chaga products from companies that source their chaga mushrooms ethically.
Does chaga make you sleepy?
Taking chaga mushrooms may improve your sleep quality. This adaptogenic mushroom has relaxing properties and can help your body destress. Therefore, if anxiety is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, taking chaga supplements could be helpful.
What is the best way to consume chaga?
There is no one optimal way to consume chaga. Some prefer chaga tea and fortified foods, while others go with supplements and powders. You should experiment until you find a way to take chaga that works for you (we recommend starting with our delicious granola).
Can you take chaga on an empty stomach?
You can take a chaga supplement on an empty stomach, but it may cause digestive issues. If you’re prone to bloating or diarrhea, it’s best to take chaga with your breakfast. Or, opt for a breakfast food fortified with chaga extract, such as our Forij granola.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to inform about medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For additional information on chaga mushrooms and their medicinal properties, talk to your doctor.