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Chaga

Chaga | Bai Hua Rong
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Chaga (Bai Hua Rong)

BOTANICAL NAME

Inonotus Obliquus

USES

Historically, oral chaga supplements have been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, tuberculosis, stomach/digestive cancers, and intestinal parasites. Notably, there is little formal study of the efficacy of chaga supplements on any of these conditions, though some studies suggest that it has immune-supporting properties which may help people fight and recover from these kinds of illnesses. Moreover, it may impact the way you metabolize sugar and fats and, as a result, may help with dieting and improve cardiovascular health.

Other, newer areas of study include the potential anti-aging and anti-neurodegenerative effects of chaga supplements (that is, it shows promise as a tool for staving off cognitive decline caused by aging). Plus, its high melanin content may help reduce skin damage (especially the appearance of aging, like wrinkles, caused by sun exposure).  What’s more, chaga may have notable, measurable anti-fatigue properties that present as increased endurance and decreased lactic acid/nitrogen buildup in muscles during exercise.

Because of the overall lack of formal, specific research, however, the most tried-and-true uses for chaga are tied to its nutritional benefits (it is rich in vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D, dietary fiber, calcium, and potassium).

PREPARATION & ADMINISTRATION

Chaga supplements are almost-exclusively prepared as a tea using the dried, grated meat of the mushroom. Capsules and powders are also available for purchase for folks who don’t like the taste of the tea.

PRECAUTIONS

There just isn’t much research about the effects of chaga supplements on long-term health or under specific conditions. What we do know is that chaga and its related supplements contain a chemical called “oxalate,” which may cause kidney damage and/or kidney stones. It also contains a protein that may increase bleeding risk/decrease blood clotting abilities. As a result, people who are on blood-thinning or anticoagulant medications should be careful taking chaga, as should people with diabetes or who have other metabolic disorders impacting and impacted by their blood sugar.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Chaga.

 

REFERENCES

Babitskaia, V G, et al. “Melanin Complex of the Fungus Inonotus Obliquus.” Prikladnaia Biokhimiia i Mikrobiologiia, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2000, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10994193.

“Corrigendum: Mechanosensory Neuron Aging: Differential Trajectories with Lifespan-Extending Alaskan Berry and Fungal Treatments in Caenorhabditis Elegans.” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, vol. 9, 2017, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00158.

Kikuchi, Yuko, et al. “Chaga Mushroom-Induced Oxalate Nephropathy.” Clinical Nephrology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23149251.

Kim, Yeon-Ran. “Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal MushroomInonotus Obliquus.” Mycobiology, vol. 33, no. 3, 2005, p. 158., doi:10.4489/myco.2005.33.3.158.

Kim, et al. “Hypoglycemic Effects of Fermented Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus) in the Diabetic Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) Rat.” AGRIS, 1 Jan. 1970, http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=KR2007000481.

Liang, Liya, et al. “Effect of the Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on Blood Lipid Metabolism and Oxidative Stress of Rats Fed High-Fat Diet In Vivo.” 2009 2nd International Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Informatics, 2009, doi:10.1109/bmei.2009.5305591.

Wang, Cong, et al. “Anti-Diabetic Effects of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides-Chromium (III) Complex in Type 2 Diabetic Mice and Its Sub-Acute Toxicity Evaluation in Normal Mice.” Food and Chemical Toxicology : an International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28087233.

Xiuhong, Zhong, et al. “Effect of Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on Physical Fatigue in Mice.” Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, No Longer Published by Elsevier, 13 Oct. 2015, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254627215301266.

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