Chaga Mushroom

Chaga is one of the most popular of the functional mushrooms.  Chaga is an edible mushroom that grows in Northern climates (those with temperate and frigid regions), primarily in the Baltic and Siberian areas.

It has been used as a valuable medicine in China, Russia, and Korea, and many ancient and indigenous cultures, such as the Ainu, First Nations.

Chaga has now made its way into the Western world, like many functional mushrooms, as more and more people are starting to realize its benefits.

In particular, chaga is rich in a number of healthful compounds, such as coenzyme Q, vitamin K, polyphenols, unsaturated fatty acids, and steroid compounds.


Chaga is a specific variety of mushroom that grows primarily on the bark of birch trees in cold northern climates. It can be found growing throughout Alaska, Canada, Northern Europe, Korea, Siberia, and Russia.

It grows as a parasitic fungus on birch trees, and since it mostly grows at high latitudes, the very low environmental temperatures typically cause the fungus to grow very slowly.

Chaga is known scientifically as Inonotus obliquus, and produces a woody growth on the outside of the bark of its host tree, called a conk, which absorbs nutrients from the wood.

Chaga has a long history of use as a medicine.  As early as the 16th century, chaga mushrooms were used as a folk medicine in Russia, Siberia, and a handful of other Asian countries.

Research has looked at the benefits of chaga mushrooms for immune and digestive support, reducing inflammation, and a variety of other health benefits.

Health Benefits

There are many potential health benefits of chaga mushrooms. Much of the scientific research has been done via test-tube research or animal studies, so there are only a handful of human clinical trials.

  1. Immune System

Another promising benefit of chaga mushroom is its ability to support immune function. 

A 2005 study in Mycobiology found that mice with weakened immune systems who were given a water extract of chaga had enhanced immune responses compared to mice given a placebo.

A 2005 study in Life Sciences showed that polysaccharide extracts from chaga provide immune-enhancing activity such as increasing macrophages and antibody production. 

In addition, a 2015 study in animals showed that a heat extract from chaga mushroom was able to induce anti-allergic activity via immune response regulation.

  1. Antioxidant Activity

Chaga has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities due to its high polyphenol content. 

Recent research has shown that a few compounds extracted from chaga offer potent antioxidant activity and can even provide neuroprotective benefits.

A 2009 research study showed that chaga has significant free-radical scavenging activities. 

The antioxidant benefits of chaga affect a large variety of conditions since inflammation is involved in many forms of chronic disease.

  1. Blood Sugar Management

Chaga may also be able to benefit diabetes and other related conditions. 

A 2008 study in mice found that using chaga in diabetic mice could decrease blood glucose, free fatty acids, total cholesterol, and LDL, while also increasing HDL, insulin level, and liver glycogen content. 

A 2010 study found that a similar chaga treatment in diabetic mice increased levels of important antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.  They also found that the polysaccharides were able to restore the damage in pancreatic tissues. 

  1. Antimicrobial Properties

Chaga also has powerful antimicrobial properties against bacteria and yeast.

Studies have found that specific metabolites from chaga mushrooms appear to have antimicrobial actions against various bacterial strains.

A 2018 research study has shown that various types of chaga extracts offer antimicrobial effects against seven different bacterial strains and one pathogenic yeast.

In summary, though it’s not easy to find whole chaga mushrooms, one of the best ways is through dietary supplementation.

Easy ways to add chaga into your diet is by adding chaga powder into shakes or smoothies, or by consuming chaga tinctures, teas, or chews. 


The chaga mushroom has been consumed for centuries due to its many benefits.  Recent research has discovered a variety of health benefits from consuming chaga.

In particular, chaga has the potential to improve immunity, boost antioxidant activity, help prevent diabetes, and increase antimicrobial activity.

That’s a lot of health benefits from just one mushroom that’s easy to incorporate into your diet.




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