Properly extracted Chaga can have a wide range of therapeutic effects. These effects depend on the level of extraction (Chaga tea being the most basic/lowest level), the quality of the raw material and the dosage. For optimal results and the highest therapeutic potential choosing a well documented professional extract is the best.A 2015 study performed at Bastyr University clearly showed the differences in therapeutic potential between extracted and non-extracted mushroom products. See the picture.
Specific immune-related effects of 39 mushroom products compared. The black bars show the effects of the extracted and the white bars the effects of the non-extracted products.
1. Balances the immune system, optimises the natural resistance against diseases and infections
Chaga is a natural BRM (Biological Response Modifier). It not only stimulates the body’s immune function when necessary, but can also slow it down when it’s overactive. In short, it will normalize the immune function, what classifies Chaga as an adaptogenic. The beta-glucans appear to be mainly responsible for that property, but many researchers believe it is actually the synergy between several, if not all constituents that is responsible for the full range of this adaptogenic action. Because of this property Chaga can be used to neutralize the side effects of pharmaceuticals, to compensate the age-related decline of our immune function, to neutralize genetic immune-disorders (like many auto-immune diseases) and, in general, to help us to deal with all the stresses of modern life. Stress (mental, physical, chemical, environmental – the change of seasons, urban life, pollution, etc..- ) has an enormous negative impact on our resistance.
2. Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral
These properties are linked to the immune supporting properties, of course. Apart from that, the antioxidants in Chaga can have a positive effect on inflammations.
Betulinic acid (a unique component of Chaga) is currently being researched for its anti-HIV properties.
3. Anti-ulcer, anti-gastritis properties
In folk medicine Chaga was used often to treat gastritis and related gastrointestinal problems. Again, the immune support of Chaga plays an important role here, both in treating and prevention of these problems, but betulinic acid and the phytosterols present in Chaga also play a role. Most ulcers are caused by bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori. A well functioning immune system will be able to deal with this pathogen.
4. Anti-cancer adjuvant – decreases the side effects of chemo-therapy and other aggressive medication
Chaga has proven to be very effective in supporting standard cancer treatments such as chemo-therapy and radiation. It can compensate the devastating effect these treatments can have on the immune system (causing side effects like nausea, insomnia, poor appetite, fatigue, etc. – these side effects are often the result of a compromized immune function.) It helps preventing metastasis (cancer cells traveling through the bloodstream should be neutralized by the immune system before they can cause harm). Chaga can significantly contribute to the quality of life during and after treatment this way.
Furthermore, research suggests that Chaga itself might have a anti-cancer potential, in particular during the early stages of cancer. The betulinic acid and some of the phytosterols present showed the ability to kill cancer cells directly. How this works exactly is the subject of several theories. So, Chaga has both an indirect (by stimulating the immune system to battle cancer-cells) and potentially a direct (by causing apoptosis [=programmed cell death]) effect during cancer treatments. Anti-tumor activity was only found in extracts prepared by lengthy heating or decocting, infusions prepared by steeping the raw material where not active against the tested tumors.
5. Anti-oxidant properties, revitalizing, anti-aging
A high quality extract should include the sclerotium ( the black outside layer ) of the Chaga. This is important, because this sclerotium contains a massive amount of a specific fungi-melanin, giving good extracts a very high level of anti-oxidants and turning Chaga into powerful anti-aging tool. Research showed DNA-regenerating and re-vitalizing properties. The whole body will benefit from this; you will look better (skin and hair) and your organs will function better.
Antioxidant power can be expressed in an ORAC-value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
6. Normalizes cholesterol levels, beneficial for the cardiovascular system, supports a healthy bloodpressure
Research showed betulinic acid (a compound unique to Chaga) to be able to break down ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream. Besides that the ß-glucans, part of the polysaccharides in Chaga also have a proven positive effect on cholesterol levels. By normalizing those levels Chaga contributes to lowering high blood pressure and promotes a healthy cardio-vascular system: less plaque, stronger arteries.
7. No side effects and no contra indications
One of the many benefits of using a full-spectrum Chaga extract is that it has no side effects at all.
Chaga is merely stimulating the body to heal itself. There is no potential disturbance of the body’s chemical and hormonal balance. This makes medicinal mushrooms like Chaga the ideal supplement for everybody.The only contra-indication are immune suppressing medicines (e.g. cyclosporin containing products, used after a transplant). Never use medicinal mushroom extracts together with this type of medication – the immune modulating effect might neutralize its workings.