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Cordyceps And Chaga: Benefits And Differences
Oct 23, 22
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Cordyceps And Chaga: Benefits And Differences

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    A rising star in the holistic health field, Dr. Sony Sherpa has been studying medicinal mushrooms for more than 7 years. Although she started writing on Nature’s Rise one year ago, her knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is backed by a master's degree in Holistic Medicine.

  • |
  • 20 min read

Cordyceps and Chaga are two amazing superfood medicinal fungi rekindling people's interest. Chaga is the go-to mushroom for enhancing immunity, reducing inflammation, and calming the digestive system. On the other hand, Cordyceps boosts energy, has earned itself the name "energy mushroom," and is frequently used to support energy and stamina.

This article will compare Chaga vs. Cordyceps, the shared benefits, and the properties that set them apart. The information in this detailed guide will help you decide which mushroom is ideal for you.

Let's begin!

What Makes Functional Mushrooms Stand Out?

Of late, medicinal mushrooms have sprung into the health and wellness scene, appearing in coffee, smoothies, supplements, and more. While mushroom coffee might be new, medicinal mushrooms like turkey tail, reishi, Chaga, and cordyceps Sinensis have been used in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic therapies for thousands of years.

Each medicinal mushroom has its distinct benefits. However, when you combine them, these mushrooms can help with anything from chronic fatigue, focus, stress, anxiety, and inflammation. They even have powerful adaptogenic properties that work with your body to balance hormones, control depression, and eventually restore homeostasis.

Read More: See all the health benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms. 

Comparing Chaga And Cordyceps

Inonotus obliquus or Chaga is an arctic mushroom with serious immune-strengthening powers and beauty benefits. This parasitic mushroom, which resembles burnt charcoal, grows on birch trees.

Chaga carries many bioactive ingredients, including polyphenols like betulin, antioxidants, and other polysaccharides. In addition, high levels of melanin are present in the canker's outer black layer, which is good for our skin.

Read More: See how Chaga benefits our skin

Cordyceps isn't technically a mushroom but a hybrid of a caterpillar and fungus. The cordyceps' fruiting body and stoma emerge from an insect, most frequently a caterpillar, which is how they got their alternate name, "caterpillar fungus." 

Cordyceps is available in two main subspecies—cordyceps Militaris and cordyceps Sinensis. However, both species are very similar in their bioactive ingredients. Therefore, the benefits you get in cordyceps Militaris are the same benefits you will get in cordyceps Sinensis. 

Now let's explore the distinct benefits of Chaga and Cordyceps.

Cordyceps Benefits

Cordyceps Benefits

Cordyceps is an Energy Mushroom

Cordyceps are most prized for their energizing effects due to their high levels of beta-glucans. These compounds provide oxygen to the body at the cellular level, reducing the likelihood of disease and enhancing stamina and vitality.

The mushroom also increases(1) adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels, which is the body's primary energy source. All cellular operations depend on ATP, so Cordyceps is best thought of as an energetic or athletic tonic.

Several research studies have confirmed the effectiveness of wild cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis in boosting energy levels. In one research study(2), scientists evaluated the effect of cordyceps on the exercise performance of older adults between 50 and 75 years.

Researchers gave the twenty people in the research group either a placebo pill or cordyceps mushroom supplements for 12 weeks. The study showed that cordyceps boosted their exercise performance and improved the wellness of elderly adults. 

In a more recent research study from 2020(3), researchers used mice to analyze the effectiveness of cordyceps in increasing energy levels. The researchers gave the mice an alcohol extract of cordyceps mushrooms containing 2.33 mg/g of cordycepin. 

The researchers evaluated the grip strength of mice for 12 weeks. In addition, the researchers also performed tests for aspartate aminotransferase (AST), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and creatine, all biomarkers of strength and fatigue. The results from the 2020 research study demonstrated that Cordyceps boosted energy by regulating the ATP pathway. 

Cordyceps Improves Libido

Cordyceps also acts as an aphrodisiac(4), supporting sexual desire and performance. In traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps carried the name "aphrodisiac." The mushroom has active compounds that improve sexual arousal, sexual potency, orgasm, and sexual desire. 

Cordyceps improves libido and sexual health in men through various channels. For example, cordyceps increases sperm production. Secondly, the mushroom boosts the male sex hormone—testosterone. With higher testosterone levels, men get and sustain strong erections. 

One research study conducted in 2016(5) analyzed the effects of cordyceps on sperm and testosterone production. The research study concluded that cordycepin—one of the bioactive ingredients in cordyceps—could boost testosterone and sperm levels, leading to increased sexual desire and a higher libido in males.

Read More: See how cordyceps boosts testosterone

Cordyceps Sinensis Improves Athletic Abilities

Various research studies have shown that cordyceps is an ideal option for athletic people aiming to boost their performance in the tracks. For example, one research study conducted in 2016(6) determined that Cordyceps increases oxygen consumption and blood flow to the liver and skeletal muscles. From these results, the researchers determined that the mushroom facilitates lactate clearance, which, in turn, enhances athletic performance. 

As noted earlier, cordyceps also boost ATP, the natural energy currency for the human body. The mushroom guarantees increased performance in heavy exercises by increasing blood flow, clearing lactate from the human body, and delivering oxygen to the skeletal muscles. 

Cordyceps Improves Lung Health

Research studies have confirmed that cordyceps can fight various diseases that affect the lungs. For example, a research study conducted in 2018(7) analyzed the effects of cordyceps Sinensis on COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). In the study, researchers gave rats with COPD cordyceps Sinensis and examined its effect on their health. 

Cordyceps mushroom treatment significantly reduced airway wall thickening and fibrosis. Furthermore, the mushroom reduced inflammatory cell accumulation and inflammation markers. These findings suggested that Cordyceps Sinensis treatment could be a beneficial approach to COPD treatment.

Research studies have also analyzed the beneficial impacts of cordyceps on Asthma. In one study(8), researchers looked at the effect of cultivated Cordyceps Militaris on asthmatic mice's airway inflammation. 

Mice were divided into groups and given Cordyceps, Asthma medications, or a placebo. The researchers assessed the airway's reaction and inflammation. The results showed that the Cordyceps Militaris fungus could modulate airway inflammation in Asthma patients, but it was less effective than conventional drugs. However, the results are encouraging.

Read More:Learn about the cordyceps benefits for the lungs.

Other Benefits of Taking Cordyceps

Other health benefits of Cordyceps include anti-inflammatory properties(9) (helps with heart health, blood flow, and lowering cholesterol). Cordycepin in fungi is also known to stimulate lymphocyte production and shrink tumor cells. 

Chaga Benefits

Chaga Benefits

Chaga is useful for stimulating the immune system, reducing inflammation, treating and preventing cancer, and protecting the liver. Below, we will take a deeper look at these unique benefits offered by Chaga mushrooms. 

Chaga Mushroom Fights Cancer

When it comes to cancer treatment, Chaga is not a new solution. The active compounds in this birch tree fungus have been used for centuries in Siberian and Russian folk medicine(10) to fight cancer cells. The extract of cultivated and wild-harvested Chaga boasts anti-mutagenic, immune-modulatory, and potent antioxidant properties that make the mushroom highly effective in fighting cancer. 

The mushroom also boasts additional bioactive ingredients that contribute to its anti-cancer potential. These bioactive ingredients include triterpenes, polysaccharides, small phenolic compounds, and ergosterol. 

Research studies have confirmed Chaga's effectiveness in fighting cancer. For example, in a 2016 study(11), Chaga mushroom extract reduced tumor load by a staggering 60%.

Read More:See how Chaga fights cancer.

Chaga Fights Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that's becoming far too common in the United States, and more people are searching for alternative solutions. Luckily, Chaga mushrooms work well to fight diabetes and its symptoms, reducing the risk of developing long-term diabetes complications. 

Chaga mushrooms help reduce blood sugar levels and fight insulin resistance, making them ideal for those with type 2 diabetes. The mushroom also fights inflammation—research studies have confirmed a link between inflammation and diabetes. Therefore, by fighting inflammation, Chaga reduces the risk of diabetes. 

Read More: See how Chaga fights diabetes

Chaga Fights Aging

The antioxidants in the Chaga help fight free radicals, including those from sun exposure. Free radicals are the leading causes of aging. 

Therefore, by fighting free radicals, Chaga prevents excessive aging. In addition, betulinic acid in Chaga stimulates collagen production(12), diminishing the effects of aging.

Chaga Fights Obesity

Obesity is also becoming a primary concern worldwide, especially considering all the adverse health effects it creates in the human body. Luckily, Chaga tea facilitates weight loss

When facilitating weight loss, Chaga uses various mechanisms, including: 

  • Suppressing appetite - The mushroom has fiber that keeps you full for longer, helping you reduce the number of calories you consume daily. 
  • Fighting Stress - Chaga is an adaptogenic mushroom. The fungus boosts mood and helps the body adapt to stressful conditions. This stress benefit is vital as it keeps you from overeating—stress is one of the leading causes of overeating. 
  • Fighting Inflammation- Research has proven(13) that a relationship exists between inflammation and weight gain. Therefore, by fighting inflammation, Chaga also reduces the risk of obesity. In obese people, the mushroom facilitates weight loss with its ability to fight inflammation. 
  • Chaga improves gut health - Gut health can influence weight gain and loss. For example, research has shown(14) that two identical twins—one obese and one lean—have varying gut bacteria. Therefore, by promoting the right gut bacteria, Chaga facilitates weight loss. 

In addition to fighting obesity, there is also evidence that Chaga helps lower(15) bad cholesterol and increase(16) good cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 

Read More: See how Chaga fights high blood pressure

What Are the Shared Benefits Between Cordyceps and Chaga?

What Are the Shared Benefits Between Cordyceps and Chaga?

While Chaga and cordyceps have unique health benefits, they also share some advantages. Some of the benefits shared by Chaga and cordyceps include: 

Both Mushrooms Fight Cancer

A study from 2020(17) analyzed the effects of cordyceps mushrooms on ovarian cancer. The researchers carefully examined the effects of cordyceps Militaris on the proliferation of ovarian cancer by analyzing morphological changes, migration assay, and viability. 

The research showed that cordyceps reduced ovarian cancer's survival, migration, and growth. The researchers concluded that cordyceps mushroom could be an effective treatment option for cancer in the future. 

In a research study conducted in 2016(18), researchers analyzed the effectiveness of Chaga in fighting cancer in a mouse model. In the study investigating the effect of Chaga mushroom on Lewis lung carcinoma, the researchers fed the mice Chaga at a dosage of 6 mg/kilogram of body weight/ day. 

The researchers determined that Chaga managed to suppress tumor growth in the mice—more than a 60% reduction in tumor growth was observed in the study. The study confirms that Chaga is also very effective in cancer treatment. 

Both Cordyceps and Chaga mushrooms can be used to treat the following types of cancers: 

  • Liver tumor 
  • Breast tumor 
  • Lung tumor 
  • Skin cancer 
  • Colon cancer 
  • And others 

However, before settling for either cordyceps or Chaga as your cancer treatment option, always talk to a healthcare professional. In addition to helping you determine the best Chaga and cordyceps dosage, they will help you decide whether or not you will need other treatment methods for faster healing. 

However, remember that Chaga and cordyceps will always protect you from cancer. Therefore start using Chaga powder or cordyceps supplements as early as possible to reduce the risk of suffering from cancer. 

Both Mushrooms Fight Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory benefits of cordyceps have been confirmed time and again by various research studies. For example, a research study conducted in 2015(19) analyzed the effectiveness of cordyceps in fighting inflammation. The researchers demonstrated that cordyceps was extra effective. 

Chaga is another effective holistic solution for fighting inflammation. For example, a research study conducted in 2012(20) confirmed that an oral administration of a Chaga extract managed to fight acute inflammation. 

Both Mushrooms Support Brain Health

A research study conducted in 2018(21) analyzed the effect of cordyceps on learning and memory. The researchers used scopolamine hydrobromide to impair mice's learning and memory capabilities.

The mice were then fed Cordyceps, and their learning and memory capabilities were measured using a Morris Water Maze Test. The results from the study indicated that the mushroom was very effective in boosting learning and memory capabilities. 

Read More:See all the mushrooms that boost brain health

Chaga lowers the risk of memory damage. Japanese researchers have shown Chaga to improve cognitive function in amnesic mice. The mice were fed alcoholic extracts of the mushroom for seven days, and higher brain functions were assessed using unique paradigms.

The study's findings revealed that the mice improved their learning and memory. This suggests that drinking Chaga fungus tea for memory can help people suffering from memory loss. This demonstrates that the polysaccharides in Inonotus Obliquus, as well as other compounds in the mushroom, have unique properties that protect and maintain good brain health.

Read More:Thinking about taking Chaga tea to boost brain health? Learn about the Chaga tea taste.

Both Medicinal Mushrooms Fight Diabetes

A research study conducted in 2014(22) analyzed the effectiveness of cordyceps in diabetes treatment and management. In the study, diabetic rats received an alcohol or water extract of cordyceps for three weeks, and the mushroom's impact on blood sugar levels was analyzed. The researchers determined that similar to metformin—a very common diabetes medication—cordyceps displayed significant reductions in blood glucose levels by promoting glucose metabolism. 

Researchers have also analyzed the impacts of Chaga on diabetes management. In a research study conducted in 2017(23), researchers used diabetic mice to investigate the benefits of Chaga on this chronic condition. The results from the study showed that Chaga mushroom, at a dosage of 900 mg/kg of body weight, lowered blood glucose levels in diabetic mice. 

Other Shared Cordyceps & Chaga Benefits

  • Both mushrooms have anti-aging properties 
  • Both mushrooms fight free radicals 
  • Both mushrooms improve gastrointestinal health 
  • Both mushrooms improve heart health 
  • Both mushrooms have adaptogen qualities and can, therefore, fight stress 

Chaga Vs. Cordyceps: Which One To Pick?

Chaga Vs. Cordyceps: Which One To Pick?

If you're looking for healing benefits, then Chaga's anti-inflammatory, digestion aiming, immune-boosting, and detoxifying properties are more up your alley. Much like Lion's mane mushrooms, Chaga boosts the immune response and encourages the white blood cells to play their role in fighting health conditions. 

Chaga mushroom also has anti-aging properties. The antioxidants in this super fungus are believed to combat free radicals and reverse aging, pollution, and UV-related damage. While Cordyceps may also provide anti-aging benefits, the Chaga functional mushrooms are much more effective in the anti-aging department. 

Cordyceps is great for providing energy support without overstimulating or overheating. It is best used as a tonic for energy and athletic support.

The fungus also offers a powerful and natural alternative to libido-enhancing pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, if your sex life is struggling, using Cordyceps mushroom supplements today or the mushroom's fruiting body could treat, cure or prevent erectile dysfunction and low libido. 


Can You Take Chaga With Cordyceps?

Chaga and Cordyceps may be taken together to combine their different health benefits. However, speaking with a healthcare provider is good to see if it is best for you.

What Is Cordyceps Mushroom Good For?

Cordyceps increases the body's energy production, improving exercise performance. The mushroom also helps fight inflammation and manage diabetes and has potential anti-tumor effects.

What Does Chaga Do To Your Body?

Chaga helps fight oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. In addition, it can assist in lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, and pressure levels and strengthen the immune system by regulating cytokines.

What Can You Not Take With Chaga?

Chaga should not be taken with medications that lower blood sugar levels, like insulin and oral anti-diabetes medications. Combining the two would lead to a severe drop in blood glucose.

Final Thoughts

Cordyceps and Chaga are the two superstars of the medicinal mushroom world with distinct health benefits. Cordyceps is the medicinal mushroom of choice regarding energy, fitness, endurance, stress, and immunity. Chaga is also an immune stimulator and has a good reputation as a beauty supplement for its benefits on the skin, hair, and nails.

Before picking one over another, find out which processes in your body you'd like to support. Also, you can combine the two mushrooms to avoid missing out on some vital health benefits. However, before using the mushrooms, consult your healthcare provider to find the correct dosing.

Have you used Chaga mushrooms or cordyceps? Have you combined the two mushrooms before? What was your experience with these functional mushrooms? We would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below. 

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  1. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs, (1)
  2. Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, (2) 
  3. Beneficial Effect of Cordyceps militaris on Exercise Performance via Promoting Cellular Energy Production, (3) 
  4. Effects of Cultured Cordycep militaris on Sexual Performance and Erectile Function in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Male Rats, (4)
  5. Review of Naturopathy of Medical Mushroom, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, in Sexual Dysfunction, (5) 
  6. Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation, (6) 
  7. Cordyceps sinensis inhibits airway remodeling in rats with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (7) 
  8. Effects of the Immunomodulatory Agent Cordyceps militaris on Airway Inflammation in a Mouse Asthma Mode, (8) 
  9. Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine, (9)
  10. Chaga and Other Fungal Resources, (10) 
  11. Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice, (11)
  12. A New Betulin Derivative Stimulates the Synthesis of Collagen in Human Fibroblasts Stronger than its Precursor, (12)
  13. Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the complications, (13)
  14. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins, (14) 
  15. Effect of the Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on Blood Lipid Metabolism and Oxidative Stress of Rats Fed High-Fat Diet In Vivo, (15)
  16. Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice, (16)
  17. Cordyceps militaris induces apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells through TNF-α/TNFR1-mediated inhibition of NF-κB phosphorylation, (17) 
  18. Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice, (18) 
  19. Anti-inflammatory effects of Cordyceps mycelium (Paecilomyces hepiali, CBG-CS-2) in Raw264.7 murine macrophages, (19)
  20.  Orally administered aqueous extract of Inonotus obliquus ameliorates acute inflammation in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice, (20) 
  21. Improvement of Learning and Memory Induced by Cordyceps Polypeptide Treatment and the Underlying Mechanism, (21) 
  22. Studies on the Antidiabetic Activities of Cordyceps militaris Extract in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague-Dawley Rats, (22)
  23. Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway, (23)

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