Chaga Mushroom as an adjunct treatment to Parkinson’s disease

Last Updated on November 8, 2022

Recent studies have shown that Chaga mushrooms may help to improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects the motor system. Symptoms of the disease include tremors, muscle stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatments can help to improve symptoms.

According to the research, at any given time, 1-2 people per 1000 are affected by Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects 1% of those over 60 and is more common as people get older. Although there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, drugs and other alternative treatments can frequently significantly reduce the symptoms.

Chaga mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds may help to protect the nervous system from damage and improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Chaga mushrooms also contain compounds that may help to boost the immune system. This can help to fight off infections and improve overall health.

Chaga Mushroom

chaga mushroom on birch tree

Chaga mushrooms, Inonotus obliquus, are a type of medicinal mushroom that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Russian medicine. These mushrooms are typically found growing on birch trees in cold, northern climates such as Russia, Siberia, Canada, Alaska, and many Circumboreal cultures. Chaga is produced by a fungus called Inonotus obliquus which parasitizes mostly on Birch trees. Although rare, Chaga has been reported from Alder, Beech, and Maple amongst others. It is estimated that Chaga only grows on less than 0.1% of Birch trees.

Health benefits of Chaga

Chaga mushrooms traditionally used for many different purposes, including digestive issues, cancer, viral infections, and skin problems. Today it has become popularized for its high antioxidant content, immuno-modulatory effects, and the potential treatment/prevention of cancer. Studies also suggest it could help with diabetes and other chronic health conditions. The main health benefits of Chaga include:

  • Improve Immune Function
  • Antiviral Properties
  • Anti-Cancer Potential
  • May Help With Diabetes
  • May Improve Brain Health
  • May Improve Gut Health
  • (Source of studies)

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects the motor system. Symptoms of the disease include tremors, muscle stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatments can help to improve symptoms.

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. However, it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms

symptoms of parkinsons

The most common symptom of Parkinson’s disease is tremor, or shaking, of the hands and arms. Other symptoms include muscle stiffness, slow movement, and difficulty with balance and coordination.

Complications

The complications of Parkinson’s disease can be serious. They include depression, anxiety, and difficulty swallowing. People with Parkinson’s disease may also fall and break bones.

Traditional treatments

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, treatments can help to improve symptoms. The most common treatment is medication. Medications can help to control the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Other treatments include physical therapy and surgery.

The use of alternative treatments for Parkinson’s disease is becoming more common. Alternative treatments include acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies.

Chaga Mushroom Benefits For Parkinson’s disease

Chaga mushroom is being used as an adjunct alternative treatment for Parkinson’s disease. 

Parkinson’s disease has a strong association established with systemic inflammation. Inflammation in the nervous system occurs early in Parkinsonian conditions, accelerating the degeneration of dopamine-producing cells.

Potent anti-Inflammatory Properties

Parkinson’s disease has a strong association established with systemic inflammation. Inflammation in the nervous system occurs early in Parkinsonian conditions, accelerating the degeneration of dopamine-producing cells. Several studies have demonstrated the strong anti-inflammatory activity of Chaga mushrooms.

Chaga anti-inflammatory study #1

Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease. A small compound isolated from Chaga mushroom, known as 3,4-Dihydroxybenzalacetone, has been shown to protect against Parkinson’s disease, according to a 2014 study from Japan. The catechol-containing compound has many beneficial bioactivities, including antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.

In this study, researchers investigated the neuroprotective activity of 3,4-Dihydroxybenzalacetone. Results suggested that the compound found in Chaga protects against the neurotoxin related to Parkinson’s disease.

Chaga anti-inflammatory study #2

In a 2005 South Korean study, the in vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory effects of the methanol extract of Inonotus obliquus (Chaga) were evaluated. 100 or 200 mg/kg/day of the alcoholic extract of the Chaga mushroom reduced paw swelling in rats as well as pain-relieving effects. The Chaga mushroom extract was found to significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in the cells. These chemicals are key mediators of inflammation.

The data from the study indicates that the Chaga mushroom has noteworthy anti-inflammatory properties.

Chaga anti-inflammatory study #3

Likewise, the anti-inflammatory effects of the Inonotus obliquus were assessed in 2009, where the results demonstrate that the extracts obtained from the mushroom possess anti-inflammatory properties when tested in vitro.

Chaga anti-inflammatory study #4

Ergosterol, ergosterol peroxide and trametenolic acid isolated from Chaga mushroom showed anti-inflammatory activities in another study from 2013.

Chaga anti-inflammatory study #5

Our bodies comprise specific cells known as mast cells that dilate the blood vessels and make them leaky, contributing to the redness and swelling seen in many inflammatory conditions.

Mast cells are capable of releasing pre-packaged inflammatory mediators from intracellular stores and many inflammatory conditions and diseases (such as inflammatory arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, sepsis, atherosclerosis, obesity, and diabetes) are linked with these cells.

Studies have demonstrated a direct link between mast cell activation and Chaga mushrooms. A 70% ethanol extract of Chaga mushroom has shown significant mast cell stabilizing activity.

Chaga anti-inflammatory study #6

The anti-inflammatory activity of Chaga was observed in a study from 2019, wherein authors reported that the mushroom attenuated inflammation induced by histamine. This is one of the most potent inflammatory agents that is released from mast cells.

This was an in-vitro study where cells from the mouse were incubated with the extracts of Chaga mushroom. The anti-inflammatory potential of Inonotus obliquus was analyzed by assessing histamine-induced TNF-α production (a potent pro-inflammatory protein molecule).

Results demonstrated that the extracts of Chaga significantly inhibited histamine-induced TNF-α production by > 90%, indicating its strong potential in treating inflammation.

Inflammation in the gut in Parkinson’s Disease

The role of inflammation in Parkinson’s Disease is progressing as a hot topic in the field of PD research which is the role of inflammation specifically in the gut of patients with PD.  Gastrointestinal pathology in Parkinson’s disease can involve the entire GI tract and includes sialorrhea (excess saliva) and dysphagia (swallowing dysfunction). In addition, delayed gastric emptying, in which the digestive contents are held up in the stomach and do not move normally into the small intestine, can cause sensations of nausea and bloating. There is emerging evidence that Chaga contains many different bioactive compounds that support gastrointestinal health.

Consumption Method of Chaga To Improve Parkinson’s disease

Chaga Dual extracts

Dual extracts are the most common method of consumption of Chaga. Extracts are concentrated forms of the medicinal constituents that have been separated from the raw biomass. These are much more potent and completely bioavailable. Full-spectrum extractions extract all water-soluble and non-water soluble components. 

  • Chaga Powdered Extracts are the medicinal constituents in their most potent form. This is often the most effective way to consume Chaga. They are also convenient when added to other supplement blends or food items.
    • Dose: Around 500-1000mg but you should consult the packaging or producer directly.
  • Chaga Capsules are the second most common method of consumption of Chaga for Parkinson’s disease. Capsules typically contain powdered extracts. They are convenient as the doses are premeasured so there’s no guesswork involved. Also, they can be easily incorporated into existing routines.
    • Dose: 1 to 2 pills a day or as indicated by the producer.
  • Chaga Tinctures are liquid extracts that most often contain a water extraction and alcohol extraction mixed into one.
    • Dose: About 1-2 dropper fulls but consult with the product packaging or producer directly.

High quality Chaga supplements

chaga supplement powder

If you are considering taking Chaga as an adjunct treatment for inflammation related to Parkinson’s disease, it is important that you choose Chaga products from reputable producers that have a proven history and experience in successfully treating inflammation. We have researched and provided our recommendations of the most reputable producers of Chaga supplement in the United States, the best producers of Chaga mushrooms in Australia, and the best Chaga supplement in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have to take Chaga mushrooms to reduce inflammation related to Parkinson’s disease?

Most studies conducted on Chaga mushrooms and PD inflammation have not observed the short-term effects caused by the consumption of Chaga. Instead, scientists have looked at its effects when consumed over long periods of time. This is because Chaga is most effective after consuming it for several weeks. The effects of Chaga are cumulative over an extended period of time and many people experience some benefits within the first four weeks of use. To get the full potential of Chaga, you should be taking it consistently for about a month or even more.

Can I take Chaga mushroom with my Parkinson’s disease medication? 

There are many different types of Parkinson’s disease medications such as steroids, colchicine, Levodopa (L-dopa), dopamine agonists, MAO-B and anticholinergics. Chaga is generally safe to be taken with PD medication however, it is important that you consult with your doctor first. If you are pregnant or on blood thinning medication, please consult with your doctor. 

Does drinking raw Chaga tea improve inflammation associated with Parkinson’s disease?

No, because the tea will only extract the water soluble compounds. If you use raw Chaga to make a hot tea, you will only get the benefits of water-soluble compounds. The alcohol component used in a dual extracted Chaga supplement is important for the extraction process because it isolates the powerful medicinal compounds known as triterpenes. These compounds are important for treating inflammation associated with Parkinson’s and are often not consumed when someone makes a simple tea out of raw Chaga.
The following active compounds are found in a dual extracted Chaga supplement:

  • Betulin is a triterpene that also occurs within the bark of Birch, Chagas host tree. It has been shown to have various anti-cancer properties. 
  • Betulinic Acid is a triterpenoid derived from Betulin that is produced by the Chaga fungus. It has been shown to have a number of properties including being anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a good source of antioxidants.
  • Lupeol is another compound that originates from the Birch shown to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Can I take Chaga with other medicinal mushrooms to help my Parkinson’s disease?

Yes, you can. Many people take a combination of medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Maitake, Reishi, Maitake and Turkey tail to assist with their Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Can I get addicted to Chaga?

No, Chaga is not addictive.  Unlike some pharmaceutical medicines, Chaga does not have any addictive qualities or any withdrawal effects upon cessation. You can stop taking a Chaga extract whenever you choose to, and you won’t experience any side effects or withdrawal symptoms. A negative effect you may experience is that the therapeutic benefits of Chaga in supporting your Parkinson’s disease will diminish over time once you stop taking the medicinal mushroom.

Conclusion

There’s still more research required about how Chaga could be used to treat Parkinson’s disease, but the potential to reduce inflammation is confirmed. Clinical trials are underway to test its safety and effectiveness, and we’re hopeful that this natural remedy will one day help people with Parkinson’s live better lives. In the meantime, if you or someone you love has Parkinson’s, you may want to consider adding Chaga mushrooms into your supplement stack.

References

  1. Improve Immune Function
  2. Antiviral Properties
  3. Anti-Cancer Potential
  4. May Help With Diabetes
  5. May Improve Brain Health
  6. May Improve Gut Health
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23959789/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28150045/ 
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15905055/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19577624/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23561137
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29175507/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6706056/

Author

  • Dr. Sony Sherpa has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Guangzhou Medical University and has been studying medicinal mushrooms for more than 7 years. Her knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is backed by a master's degree in Holistic Medicine and contributes to many health articles around the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

We are not a traditional society or club. World Mushroom Society is a collective of fungi enthusiasts and health advocates, sharing information and identifying top producers of high quality medicinal mushroom supplements.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest news and trends from our company.

Coming soon.

More questions? Get in touch

DISCLAIMER

DISCLAIMER
The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information found here is not meant as a substitute for, or alternative to, information from your doctor for ongoing medical treatment you currently receive. If unsure, please consult with your doctor before using medicinal mushrooms. Any content related to cancer should not be considered as prescriptive medical advice and should not be a substitute for any cancer treatment, unless advised by your doctor first. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by TGA and FDA-approved research. If you are pregnant or on prescription drugs that thin the blood, consult with your medical professional before using medicinal mushrooms.
By using this using this website, you agree to follow the Privacy PolicyTerms of Use and Advertising Disclosure printed on this site.