There has been a lot of buzz lately about the health benefits of Chaga mushrooms. This strange, black fungus is said to improve overall health and well-being and help fight cancer. But does Chaga live up to the hype?
The information researchers have gathered shows that the mushroom has been used to treat cancer in Russian and Siberian folk medicine(1). But can the mushroom be used in modern cancer treatment?
Here, we bring all the science-backed evidence of the benefits of Chaga for cancer. Read on to learn the link between Chaga mushrooms and cancer.
How Good Are Chaga Mushrooms for Improving Overall Health?
Cancer is a dreaded six-letter word that kills around 8.2 million people(2) annually. Chronic diseases like cancer can lead to a substantial economic and emotional burden.
Cancer prevention, through lifestyle modification, should be adopted to reduce cancer incidence. Incorporating nutritionally rich functional food into our diets—like the Chaga mushroom cancer diet—could be one way forward.
Read More: Thinking about including Chaga mushroom in your diet? Learn the Chaga mushroom taste to expect.
Chaga, or Inonotus obliquus, is a white-rot parasitic fungus found in mature live birch trees in the cold climate of the northern hemisphere. Also known as "clinker polypore," Chaga is a charcoal-like fungus with a soft orange core.
Inonotus obliquus has been held in high regard in traditional eastern medicine. The mushroom has been used for centuries to treat many diseases and health issues. Chaga contains a host of bioactive compounds that are beneficial in the production of cytokines and the overall improvement of human health.
The mushroom has Immune-enhancing properties, and as an antioxidant, it relieves the body of oxidative stress. Human and animal studies have shown that the mushroom's anti-inflammation(3) properties make the fungus one of the best natural holistic solutions to inflammation-related conditions.
As an adaptogen, Chaga products help users adapt to stressful situations, reducing the risk of suffering from anxiety and depression. The mushroom is also known to improve thyroid functions and gut health, protect against cognitive decline, and fight chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
Read More: See how Chaga fights diabetes.
However, this detailed guide does not focus on the other benefits of a Chaga product. We aim to show you how the mushroom can help you avoid—or treat—cancer.
Whether it is liver cancer or human colon cancer cells, when taken at the proper Chaga mushroom dosage has a way of helping with treatment and protection. Read on to learn more about how people in countries like Asia—and now, the United States—have been using Chaga ingredients to remain cancer-free for life.
How Is Chaga Good For Cancer?
The crude extract(4) of Chaga has potent antioxidant, immune-modulatory, and anti-mutagenic properties, which contribute to the Chaga mushroom cancer benefits. When these properties come together, they create an alternative, homeopathic cancer therapy that can help with cancer treatment.
The Chaga mushroom powder contains polysaccharides, triterpenes, ergosterol, and small phenolic compounds, which exhibit anticancer effects. Triterpenes like betulinic acid, inotodiol, lupeol, polyphenol like caffeic acid, and 3,4-dihydroxy benzal acetone demonstrate antiproliferative effects.
Read More: Learn how to use Chaga powder to fight cancer and improve your overall health.
Betulinic acid is being studied(5) for use as a chemotherapeutic agent. When taking advantage of Chaga tea prostate cancer benefits, the mushroom polysaccharides inhibit protein synthesis in the tumor cells and activate the host immune system for fighting off cancer. The same case applies when the mushroom prevents malignant lung cancer progression.
Investigations into the Chaga cancer testimonials have revealed that Chaga mushrooms also prevent cell damage that results from oxidative stress(6). The antioxidant property of Chaga checks DNA damage and mutation that often leads to cancer.
Read More: See how Chaga fights high blood pressure with its antioxidant properties.
It is also worth noting that Chaga has immunotherapy benefits. It activates the immune system, ensuring that it is functioning at optimal levels—this further helps reduce the risk of suffering from cancer. A healthier immune system also lowers the risk of metastasis for cancer patients.
As noted earlier, Chaga does help with diabetes. The mushroom can control blood sugar and keep it at an ideal level.
Multiple research studies have shown that high blood sugar is a leading cause of cancer. One research study(7) notes that type 2 diabetes—whose main symptom is high blood sugar levels—is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. By keeping blood sugar at an ideal level, Chaga—when combined with diabetes pills and capsules—lowers the risk of cancer in humans with diabetes.
You can take Chaga for cancer in different forms. The mushroom can be used as powders, tinctures, or as beverages. If you want to take Chaga tea for cancer, a Chaga dose of 6mg/kg per day in the form of a tea infusion is recommended(8).
Read More: See how Chaga tea also promotes weight loss.
Maybe your goal is to avoid liver cancer or stop tumor growth by taking this mushroom that grows on birch trees. Below, we will confirm this is possible while going into deeper details on how Chaga medicinal mushrooms work to make this a reality.
What Types Of Human Cancer Cells Is Chaga Beneficial For?
Chaga treats oral, gastrointestinal, lung, breast, and skin cancers. The mushroom is effective on almost all types of human cancer cells. We have discussed some of the scientific research on the tumor-fighting effects of Chaga below:
1. Liver Tumor
Part of Chaga's cancer benefits is connected to its virus-fighting capabilities. Chaga exhibits antiviral activity against the Hepatitis C virus(9), a leading cause of hepatic cancer.
In a research study, the water extract of Inonotus obliquus reduced the infective properties of the virus by 100 folds and exhibited its virucidal properties within 10 minutes of administration. The Chaga medicinal mushrooms are also effective against lewis lung carcinoma cells which also tend to cause cancer with time.
Chaga increases your potential to reverse lung tumor growth. This is especially the case when you combine the mushroom with other medications designed for this type of cancer.
The good news is that unlike radiation therapy or chemotherapy, Chaga mushroom products are known for not harming healthy cells.
2. Breast Tumor
The capability to treat breast cancer is one of the many benefits of Chaga mushrooms. What's better, Chaga does not just suppress tumor progression or growth; the mushroom is also very effective in breast cancer prevention.
Suppose you are wondering can Chaga cure cancer. In that case, you should know that a 70% ethanol extract of Chaga mushroom has been found to exhibit cytotoxic effects against breast cancer cells (10)in a dose and time-dependent manner. The study models were given 2g/kg of the Chaga mushroom extract, on alternate days, for 30 days.
Inonotus obliquus was found to inhibit breast cancer cell growth and induce the tumor cells' self-eating (autophagy). In the study, the mushroom extract did not interfere with the cytotoxic effects of anticancer medications. This has suggested that Chaga may be a beneficial complementary medicine for patients with breast cancer.
Research studies have shown that Chaga can boost immunity in women with breast cancer. The medicinal mushroom helps the human body work against breast cancer by simply increasing the number of white blood cells. The mushroom increases the chances of fully recovering from breast cancer.
3. Lung Tumor
One study evaluated the cytotoxic effect of the Chaga mushroom on human lung cancer cells(11). Extract of Chaga decreased the viability of four different types of lung cancer cells by inducing cell death (apoptosis).
Lanostane-type triterpenoids were attributed to Chaga's pro-apoptotic and cytotoxic effects against lung cancer cells. Chaga is known to provide significant tumor suppressive effects in lung cancer treatment.
4. Skin Cancer
The water extract of Inonotus obliquus has been studied for its antiproliferative effects against melanoma cells(12), a form of skin cancer.
The mushroom inhibited the growth of skin cancer cells by arresting the cell cycle and inducing apoptosis. The viability of the cancer cells markedly decreased merely 48 hours post-exposure to Chaga extract.
Read More: Seehow Chaga improves skin health.
5. Colon Cancer
Ergosterol peroxide in Chaga inhibited cell proliferation in colonic cancer(13). This tendency to suppress colon cancer growth resulted from the apoptosis of tumor cells brought on by Chaga.
Chaga's antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic properties can be utilized as a supplement in colon cancer chemoprevention.
6. Sarcoma Cells
The birch fungus extract has shown significant cytotoxic activity against human sarcoma cells(14). Inonotus obliquus reduced tumor volume by up to 33% in mice bearing sarcoma cells.
The experiment then utilized human sarcoma cells, where an extract of Chaga mushroom exhibited inhibitory activity against the proliferation of sarcoma cells. Inotodiol and lanosterol, isolated from Chaga, could be potential functional anticancer food or even a component of an anticancer drug.
Does Chaga Help With Chemotherapy?
Many cancer patients take Inototus obliquus as a complementary medicine(15) during chemotherapy and radiotherapy due to its anti-tumor activity.
When it comes to Chaga and cancer, the Chaga cancer study shows that the mushroom also plays a crucial role in helping users deal with the side effects of other cancer treatment methods.
The mushroom is also known as an immune-boosting superfood. The beta-D-glucan present in Chaga supports the immune system(16) when necessary, preparing our bodies to fight off the side effects of chemotherapy.
Chaga is emerging as a potent anticancer medicinal mushroom. The bioactive molecules in the fungus have demonstrated significant cytotoxic activity against cancer cells. Many in vitro studies have also reported the pro-apoptotic effects of Inonotus obliquus.
However, additional human studies are required because the available data are preliminary. Regardless, Chaga is showing potential as a novel chemotherapeutic agent that does not seem to harm non-cancerous cells.
Have you used Chaga mushrooms before? How did the mushroom improve your overall health? Let us know in the comments.
- Chaga and Other Fungal Resources, (1)http://www.fengshuilondon.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Pilz-2004-Chaga-Report-Chaga-and-Other-Fungal-Resources-Assessment-of-Sustainable-Commercial-Harvesting-in-Khabarovsk-and-Primorsky-Krais-Russia..pdf
- Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice, (2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946216/
- Anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities of extracts and compounds from the mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (3)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814613000526
- Bioactivity-based analysis and chemical characterization of cytotoxic constituents from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) that induce apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma cells, (4)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037887411831403X
- Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (5)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/
- Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15630179/
- Diabetes and Cancer, (7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/
- Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice, (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946216/
- Antiviral activity of Inonotus obliquus fungus extract towards infection caused by hepatitis C virus in cell cultures, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22462058/
- Chaga mushroom extract induces autophagy via the AMPK-mTOR signaling pathway in breast cancer cells, (10)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874121003081
- Bioactivity-based analysis and chemical characterization of cytotoxic constituents from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) that induce apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma cells, (11)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037887411831403X
- Potential anticancer properties of the water extract of Inontus obliquus by induction of apoptosis in melanoma B16-F10 cells, (12)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874108005576
- Ergosterol peroxide from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) exhibits anticancer activity by down-regulation of the β-catenin pathway in colorectal cancer, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26210065/
- Anticancer activity of subfractions containing pure compounds of Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extract in human cancer cells and in Balbc/c mice bearing Sarcoma-180 cells, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895696/
- Chaga mushroom extract induces autophagy via the AMPK-mTOR signaling pathway in breast cancer cells, (15)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874121003081
- Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (16)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/