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Chaga mushrooms: Don’t judge a book by its cover

Often mistaken for a clump of soil or a charred part of a tree, to the experienced eye, the Chaga mushroom can be differentiated via its bright and nutrient-rich insides. So let’s give these ugly ducklings their due, allowing their true benefits to shine. 

Potential benefits of Chaga mushrooms for immune support and the brain

Inonotus obliquus, commonly called Chaga and affectionately known as the king of mushrooms, is traditionally and sustainably harvested from birch in Siberia. Used for centuries, its compounds include beta-glucans that help balance the immune system, including polysaccharides that help keep blood sugar stable and the inflammation-reducing compound, betulinic acid. ​​This study found that the cognitive enhancing and antioxidant activities of Chaga work to fight scopolamine-induced experimental amnesia.

These fungi may resemble charcoal on the outside, but hidden beneath is a bright orange, medicinally-rich centre. The burnt appearance of the sterile conk is not the fruiting body of the fungus, but a sclerotium or mass of mycelium, mostly black because of a high amount of melanin. So let’s dig a little deeper to reveal the benefits of this golden, nutrient-dense superfood.

Chaga’s abundance of beta-glucans and how they benefit your health

Beta-glucans, β-glucans, Beta-d-glucans, polysaccharides… despite carrying many titles, beta-glucans may benefit your health in deceptively simple ways. 

Beta-glucans (also known by their more technical name beta-d-glucans) are a special class of indigestible polysaccharide fibres. They are found not only in mushrooms but also in bacteria and plants such as oat and barley. However, only the beta-glucans found in fungi (mushrooms) have the special β-(1→6) branching structure that has the most medicinal potential.

These special 1-6 beta-d-glucans are responsible for many of the health-promoting properties of medicinal mushrooms, such as antioxidant activity, boosted immune system function, and blood sugar and cholesterol regulation. 

Chaga Mushroom Image Pure Fungi Blog

Paths of study on Chaga’s beta-glucans and how they benefit your health 

  • Beta-glucans as a prebiotic benefiting gut health
  • Heart health and cholesterol, with research showing that consuming fungi reduces cholesterol levels in animals. Research indicates that increasing their intake of these fungi, on the other hand, might lower animals’ risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Researchers in the scientific community prize beta-glucans for their immunity-boosting properties. Beta-glucans from mushrooms seem to support the immune system by enhancing the function of both microphages and natural killer cells.
  • Beta-glucans have been tested to be effective in lowering blood glucose concentrations and decreasing hyperlipidemia and hypertension. In an earlier studyit was found that Chaga mushrooms could lower blood sugar in rats. Though no research has been done on humans yet, this suggests that Chaga might contribute to an alternative treatment for diabetes in the future.
  • Research is still in its infancy, but if Chaga proves effective at fighting illnesses such as cancer and arthritis, it could be an alternative to traditional treatments. Chaga treatment could prevent them from experiencing the side effects of other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and various medications prescribed for chronic illnesses.

Chaga’s influence on your health with microphages

Microphages are immune cells (more specifically, they are a small phagocyte cell). Phagocytes help eliminate pathogens from your body by engulfing them; the pathogen is effectively swallowed up by the phagocyte and broken down so it can no longer do you any harm.

A natural killer cell is a type of lymphocyte which detects and kills cells that have been infected by viruses. They can help control the early signs of cancer.   

Chaga Mushroom Chunks Image Pure Fungi Blog

Inflammation: When your body is on fire, but not in a good way 

Until relatively recently, we’ve moved beyond recognising the benefits of inflammation – for example, protecting a wound or a compromised joint – onto understanding the alarming concern of acute and chronic inflammation within our bodies.

Chronic long-term inflammation is linked to conditions such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Recent research suggests that depression may be partly due to chronic inflammation.

Chaga mushrooms help in regulating cytokine production that helps in controlling inflammation. Betulinic acid, Inotodial, and Ergosterol peroxide are compounds in Chaga that help reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of cytokines.

Chaga has shown potential benefits as a potent antioxidant with its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a strong contender as an alternative remedy for ailments like arthritis.

Animal and test-tube studies demonstrate that Chaga mushrooms can regulate the production of harmful cytokines and help control inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and other diseases.  

Written by Angela Totté, co-founder of Pure Fungi. Angela is a Holistic Nutrition Well-being Practitioner. Upon growing up in Japan, she developed a keen interest in all aspects of health, leading to her passion for wanting to help people through a holistic approach to well-being and nutrition. Angela has worked in the Nutritional Health and Wellness market over the past ten years in different roles, from managing an independent health retailer in central London, working in the health supplement distribution sector, to being a brand ambassador for an international Japanese nutritional health company. 

1 comment

Jan 17, 2022 • Posted by Reza

Can’t wait to try your products!

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