Are you someone who struggles with diabetes? If so, you're not alone. Nearly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, and that number is only expected to increase in the years to come. While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for this chronic condition, there may be some help in the form of Chaga mushrooms.
But how is Chaga good for diabetes? And what is the link between Chaga and diabetes?
This article will explore the potential benefits of Chaga mushroom or Inonotus obliquus for diabetes. We will dig deep into what the science says and give you an insight into how it helps maintain blood sugar levels.
Read on to learn five ways Chaga mushrooms may be able to help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels and improve their overall health without causing side effects.
What Makes Chaga Mushroom Stand Out for Diabetes?
High blood sugar is often challenging to manage, given our food choices and fast-paced lifestyle.
Deciding which food to eat and which to avoid is one enormous struggle, and only those who live with unregulated blood sugar or diabetes can understand.
So, is there a mushroom that helps with diabetes?
Mushrooms—including fungi like Chaga and Lion's Mane—are great if you have diabetes or you just want to watch your sugar levels. Edible fungi are low in calories, carbs, and sugar, making them the perfect food if you struggle to keep the sugar down.
Apart from their nutritious taste, some medicinal mushrooms have anti-diabetic properties too. And we are going to explore one right here!
Chaga mushrooms, the king of medicinal fungi, have been used for centuries in Asia and countries like Siberia for their medicinal properties(1) such as boosting immunity and improving overall health.
It grows primarily on the bark of birch trees in cold climates and is not too pleasing to the eye. But although it’s typically referred to as a mushroom, Chaga is a sclerotium—a hardened mass of fungal mycelium.
The mushroom is now gaining popularity in the western world for its many health benefits. From food supplements to mushroom-infused beverages, Chaga is flying off the shelves.
When using Chaga tea for weight loss, the mushroom helps people control cholesterol levels (LDL Cholesterol), something that reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by lowering insulin resistance. This also reduces the risk of heart disease by clearing out any fat deposits in the blood vessels.
Research shows that diabetes can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. According to a research study conducted in 2018(2), high blood pressure is twice as common in people suffering from diabetes as compared to people who do not have diabetes. While people do use Chaga for blood pressure, using Chaga to improve diabetes suggests that the risk of high blood pressure may be reduced.
According to research information and evidence, diabetes increases the risk of developing cancer. Research data shows that(3) diabetic men are 19% more likely to develop cancer than healthy men while diabetic women are 27% more likely to develop cancer than healthy women. While people can use Chaga supplement for cancer cells, using Chaga for diabetes management reduces the risk of suffering from cancer in the future.
Diabetes And Chaga Mushroom Benefits
Several animal studies have looked into the relationship between Chaga mushroom and diabetes. Let’s look at what we know so far and how it may help.
1. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Much like how diabetes medicine and other diabetic products work, the polysaccharides present in Inonotus obliquus are the main components of the mushroom which have anti-diabetic activity. Like diabetic medications control blood sugar, helping restore it to the ideal level, Chaga mushrooms also offer a similar benefit.
The relationship between Type 2 diabetes and Chaga mushroom consumption has been a subject of this research published in 2017(4). It investigated the role of I. obliquus polysaccharides (IOPS) in animals with type 2 diabetes. The research study concluded that the ingredients in Chaga mushrooms can improve insulin resistance and sensitivity and help with controlling blood sugar levels.
In this study, mice were given oral doses of the mushroom (900mg/kg body weight) and found that it could significantly reduce fasting blood glucose levels. It also restored the body weight, improved the ability to tolerate glucose, increased the stored sugar in the liver decreased the resistance to the action of insulin ( the primary hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar in our bodies).
To further prove that Chaga extract is effective when it comes to controlling diabetes, researchers have performed more studies. These studies have ended at the same conclusion as the first study described above.
Drinking Chaga tea—or taking other valuable products that come from this mushroom that grows on birch trees—has a positive impact on blood sugar management. This suggests that keeping some Chaga supplements in your home as a diabetic could be a good way to work on improving your health.
The relationship between Chaga mushroom and type 2 diabetes was also evaluated in another study(5) from 2017 that showed similar results. After four weeks of using Chaga mushroom on mice, there was a reduction in body weight, fasting blood glucose, and insulin levels.
Even in this, researchers attributed the hypoglycemic property to the mushroom polysaccharides. They also suggested that it could be used as a functional food or pharmaceutical in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
In an experimental study(6), diabetic mice were given extracts of Inonotus obliquus broth in a dose of 500 and 1000 mg/kg body weight.
There was a mild hypoglycemic effect but the higher dose could restore blood glucose levels to normal. Results of the study also showed an increase in stored glucose content in the liver.
The beta-glucans, triterpenoids, and polyphenol present in Chaga were found to significantly alleviate blood glucose and insulin resistance in a study. Researchers even went on to conclude that the effects produced by 500mg/kg of mushroom were similar to that of the anti-diabetic drug metformin(7).
Let’s look at other ways how it can help lower blood sugar
2. Chaga Mushrooms Fights Inflammation
Chaga mushroom has anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to the high anti-oxidants present in it. Animal(8) studies have shown that the Chaga supplement can block the production of harmful cytokines, the proteins that cause inflammation.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are linked with(9) inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of Chaga may be potentially utilized to prevent and control the disease.
A large group of autoimmune disease is often related to inflammation that results from oxidative stress. Luckily, if you drink Chaga tea, benefitting from antioxidants helps you reduce the risk of these diseases.
In addition to increasing the risk of suffering from high blood sugar levels, Inflammation increases the risk of cancer and even skin and hair problems. As noted above, Chaga supplements led to reduced blood sugar levels—one of the reasons the mushroom achieved this is its ability to fight inflammation.
Also, as noted earlier, Chaga does help fight cancer—this is also partly made possible through the anti-inflammatory properties of the mushroom. People do use Chaga for the skin while others use Chaga for hair—offering benefits in both cases, the mushroom delivers hair and skin benefits because it carries anti-inflammatory capabilities.
People with dogs can also leverage the anti-inflammatory benefits of Chaga. When people use Chaga for dogs, they end up enjoying numerous benefits, including the mushroom lowers cholesterol levels in their dogs and it better lowers insulin resistance compared to other dog products.
3. Lowers Cholesterol
The American Heart Association (AHA), states that diabetes often increases the bad cholesterol (LDL) and decreases the good cholesterol (HDL). Both of these conditions raise your risk of developing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. All these conditions are associated with unmanaged blood sugar levels.
Studies(10) have shown(11) that the Chaga mushroom not only reduces the bad cholesterol, it also increases the good cholesterol in the body. Using diabetes medication and using Chaga at the right dosage could mean the difference between dealing with autoimmune diseases—like high blood pressure—in the future and living a healthy life.
Keep in mind that while using Chaga products and insulin injections, you will also need to ensure you are consuming a healthy diet to ensure healthy cholesterol levels. This means that you will need to avoid a high fat diet and involve yourself in a healthy lifestyle to avoid any chronic health condition that results from elevated cholesterol levels.
4. Protects The Kidney
The prevalence of diabetic nephropathy and end-stage kidney diseases is increasing and eventually will be an unavoidable health burden(12) in people with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. It is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
A 2016 study examined the renal protective effects(13) of the polysaccharides present in Chaga mushrooms. The animals in the study were given extracts of Inonotus obliquus for 8 weeks. Results demonstrated that there were fewer signs of kidney damage related to diabetes when compared to those who did not receive the mushroom.
Helping with diabetes management, taking Chaga makes cells receptive to blood sugar. This keeps the excessive glucose from going into the kidney and causing damage. Managing diabetes and blood sugar levels, using the mushroom and insulin properly can reduce the risk of dealing with a damaged kidney in the future.
5. Regulates The Immune System
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means an overactive immune system mistakenly identifies its own cells as foreign and attacks them. This destroys the pancreas and decreases the production of insulin.
Inonotus obliquus has been known to modulate the immune system(14). The mushrooms can help temper down immune responses when they are causing harm. While a direct link between this property of Chaga and diabetes has not been established yet, it may be potentially utilized in the treatment of the disease. This suggests that people who know how to use Chaga powder may have a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.
Do Chaga Mushrooms Have Side Effects?
While Chaga mushrooms do have a large number of health benefits, you should seek advice from a healthcare professional before using the mushroom. As the mushroom helps boost immunity and fights cancer cells while also offering a range of other health solutions, the Chaga mushroom extract also lowers blood sugar.
Most people with diabetes are often using other medications to regulate their blood sugar levels. This means that consuming Chaga mushrooms is more like adding a new compound that will further lower the level of blood glucose.
If you are not careful when using the medicinal mushroom Inonotus Obliquus, the diabetes medication—or insulin injections—when combined with Chaga could lower the blood sugar below healthy levels, increasing your risk of hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, increases your risk of suffering from unconsciousness and often makes you unable to function normally. If not treated immediately, hypoglycemia can lead to a coma, and in the worst-case scenario, it can cause death. Therefore, when using Chaga for diabetes, ensure the dosage won't cause extremely low blood sugar levels.
Some people do take blood thinners to prevent blood clotting. Chaga mushrooms also have a blood thinning effect. This means that combining the blood thinners with Chaga could create problems with your clotting—this can lead to a bleeding disorder because of slow blood clotting in the case of injury.
However, when using blood thinning medication, you can still use Chaga to fight cancer, increase your HDL cholesterol, reduce your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, fight harmful bacteria by improving your immune system, and reduce inflammation. All you need to do is use the dosage that won't cause extreme impacts on your blood clotting.
In modern society, diabetes is a major issue, and sedentary jobs, inadequate nutrition along with lifestyle pressures further worsen the risk. Health supplements containing Chaga have not only been found to help lower blood sugar levels, but it also reduces inflammation, decrease cholesterol, regulate the immune system, and protect the kidney.
Adding Chaga to your daily routine not only helps lower blood sugar levels it may also decrease your risk of developing diabetes. Although much of the current research is based on animal studies, the king of medicinal mushrooms holds a lot of promise.
Have you tried incorporating Chaga into your diet? Let us know how they’ve worked for you in the comments below!
- Chemical and medicobiological properties of chaga (review) (1) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11094-006-0194-4
- Diabetes, Hypertension, and Cardiovascular Disease: Clinical Insights and Vascular Mechanisms, (2) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2017.12.005
- Cancer and diabetes: The connection is in your DNA, (3) https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2021/05/diabetes-cancer
- Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway, (4) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2017.09.104
Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides-chromium (III) complex in type 2 diabetic mice and its sub-acute toxicity evaluation in normal mice, (5) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2017.01.007
Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice. (6) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2008.02.030
Effect of Inonotus obliquus (Fr.) Pilat extract on the regulation of glycolipid metabolism via PI3K/Akt and AMPK/ACC pathways in mice,
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Inonotus obliquus in Colitis Induced by Dextran Sodium Sulfate (8) https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2010/943516/
- The Role of Inflammation in Diabetes: Current Concepts and Future Perspectives, (9) https://doi.org/10.15420/ecr.2018.33.1
Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice, (10) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2008.02.030
Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway, (11) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2017.09.104
Pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy, (12) https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2040-1124.2011.00131.x
Renal Protective Effects of Low Molecular Weight of Inonotus obliquus Polysaccharide (LIOP) on HFD/STZ-Induced Nephropathy in Mice,
- Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (14) https://doi.org/10.4489/myco.2005.33.3.158