How Chaga Mushrooms Can Help Kidney Disease

Last Updated on November 8, 2022

In recent years, modern science has begun to validate the health efficacy of Chaga mushrooms, and there is evidence now that Chaga Mushrooms can indeed help improve kidney function.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 10% of people globally, and millions of people pass away each year because they cannot afford effective treatment.

The majority of those in need of dialysis or kidney transplantation in middle-income nations must shoulder a heavy financial burden. Over 1 million individuals every year pass away from untreated renal failure in another 112 nations where many people cannot afford any form of care. This led to some people exploring alternative treatment options and one of these is the Chaga Mushroom. 

Kidney disease is a serious condition that can lead to a number of health problems, including kidney failure. Chaga Mushroom has been shown to help improve kidney function by helping to remove toxins from the body and by reducing inflammation. In addition, Chaga Mushroom can help to improve blood flow to the kidneys and reduce the risk of infection.

What Is 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)

Active compounds

  • 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.

Kidney disease

Kidney disease is a condition that affects the kidneys, two small organs located on either side of the spine. The kidneys filter waste from the blood and excrete it in urine. Kidney disease can occur when the kidneys are damaged or unable to function properly.

There are two main types of kidney disease: acute kidney disease, which is a sudden, usually temporary loss of kidney function, and chronic kidney disease, which is a more gradual and permanent deterioration of kidney function.

Acute kidney disease can be caused by a number of factors, including infection, injury, or the use of certain medications. Chronic kidney disease is usually the result of a long-term condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Symptoms of kidney disease

The symptoms of kidney disease vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Acute kidney disease may cause a sudden decrease in urine output, swelling of the ankles and feet, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Chronic kidney disease often has no symptoms in its early stages. As the condition progresses, it may cause weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and anemia. In its late stages, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.

Complications of kidney disease

Kidney disease can lead to a number of serious complications, including kidney failure, high blood pressure, anemia, and bone disease. Kidney failure is the most serious complication of kidney disease and can be life-threatening.

High blood pressure is another common complication of kidney disease. If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not make enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Bone disease can occur when the kidneys are not able to remove enough phosphorus from the blood. Phosphorus is a mineral that helps to build strong bones.

Traditional treatments

There is no cure for kidney disease, but there are treatments available that can help to improve kidney function and slow the progression of the condition. Traditional treatments for kidney disease include dialysis and kidney transplant.

Chaga Mushroom Used in improving Kidney Function

Chaga mushroom is being used as an adjunct treatment for kidney disease.

chaga mushroom

Kidney Protective Effects Study #1

The kidney-protective effects of Inonotus obliquus on diabetic rats with kidney disease were demonstrated in a study from China.

During the 17-week experiment, the biological parameters of renal injury in the blood and urine were examined. Additionally, an ultrasound of the artery of the kidney, and several biopsies were also evaluated.

Compared with the normal control group who did not receive the mushroom, the biochemical research showed that protein excretion in the urine and blood levels of creatinine were significantly improved with an 8-week intervention of Chaga.

Similarly, blood flow to the kidney also improved, and so did the biopsy data that supported renal injury. The group that received 100 mg/kg/d of Chaga experienced significant effects compared with the 50 mg/kg/d in some parameters.

Based on biochemical, ultrasound, and evidence from biopsy results, Chaga mushroom had protective effects on diabetes-induced kidney injury.

Kidney Protective Effects Study #2

The kidney protective effects of Chaga mushroom extract were once again explored in a Taiwanese study. The water-soluble Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides from the fruiting bodies of Chaga mushroom were fed to diabetic rats with diabetes-induced kidney damage. Eight-week administration of 300 mg/kg of the mushroom restored the integrity of the kidney cells. These findings indicate that Chaga mushroom could ameliorate renal injury caused by high levels of glucose and lipid.

Kidney Disease Prevention

A review of the protective effects of Inonotus obliquus triterpenoids in kidney diseases was published in the journal of Open Chemistry. Inonotus obliquus is rich in triterpenoids and the main active ingredients include betulinic acid, trametenolic acid, inotodiol, and ergosterol. Emerging evidence suggests that triterpenes in Chaga mushrooms may be an effective drug for the treatment and protection of various kidney diseases.

According to the authors, Triterpene from Inonotus obliquus could prevent kidney diseases by various mechanisms. The anti-oxidant property of the fungus could protect against kidney stone disease, while the anti-inflammatory property could aid in acute kidney injury. Similarly, the mushroom can help lower uric acid, improve the protein content in the urine in Nephrotic syndrome, and prevent renal fibrosis in chronic kidney disease.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Chaga

The progression of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is closely associated with systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. Several studies have demonstrated the strong anti-inflammatory activity of Chaga mushrooms.

Anti-inflammatory Study #1

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.

Anti-inflammatory Study #2

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.

Anti-inflammatory Study #3

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

Anti-inflammatory Study #4

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 (like Chronic Kidney Disease, inflammatory arthritis, 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.

Anti-inflammatory Study #5

Likewise, 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.

Consumption Methods of Chaga for Kidney Health

chaga supplement powder

Chaga Extracts

Extracts are the most common method of consumption of Chaga to improve kidney health. 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 remove all water-soluble and non-water soluble components. 

  • 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 for kidney health: Around 500-1000mg but you should consult the packaging or producer directly
  • Capsules: Capsules are the second most common method of consumption of Chaga for kidney 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 for kidney health: 1 to 2 capsules a day or as indicated by the producer.

Selecting high quality Chaga supplements for improving kidney health

If you are considering taking Chaga supplements as a complimentary support for kidney health, it is important that you choose the best quality Chaga products from reputable producers and brands that have a proven history and experience in improving health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for Chaga mushroom show health benefits for kidney function?

Most studies conducted on Chaga mushrooms have not observed the short-term effects caused by the consumption of Chaga. Instead, scientists have looked at its effects for kidney health when consumed over long periods of time. This is because Chaga is most effective after consuming it for at least 8 weeks. The effects of Chaga are cumulative over an extended period of time.

Can I take Chaga mushroom with my kidney medication? 

There are many different types of kidney disease medications such as diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin II receptor blockers. Chaga is generally safe to be taken with kidney disease 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. 

Is drinking chaga tea the best way to get the health benefits for kidney disease?

No, because 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 chaga compounds. The alcohol component used in a dual extracted Chaga supplement is important for the extraction process in Chaga because it extracts the medicinal compounds known as triterpenes. These compounds are important for treating kidney issues and are not consumed when someone makes a simple tea out of raw Chaga. The Chaga tea you should be drinking should contain Chaga extract powder.

Can I take Chaga with other medicinal mushrooms to improve my kidney health?

Yes. Many people take a combination of medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Maitake, Reishi, Maitake and Turkey tail to improve their kidney function.

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 kidney disease will diminish over time once you stop taking the medicinal mushroom.

Conclusion

Chaga mushrooms may hold promise as a natural treatment for kidney disease. These mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and other compounds that could help protect the kidneys from damage. More research is needed to confirm these potential benefits, but chaga mushrooms could be a promising addition to your kidney health regimen.

As more people turn to taking Chaga mushroom to improve kidney health, it is important to understand it is not a definitive cure to kidney disease. While Chaga is a great supplement to incorporate into a daily health routine, it is most effective when combined with healthy lifestyle choices. This includes a healthy diet, exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits. 

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://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/chem-2022-0168/html?lang=en
  8. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/17/9/1535
  9. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2021.743931/full 
  10. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/17/9/1535
  11. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/chem-2022-0168/html?lang=en
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15905055/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19577624/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23561137
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29175507/
  16. 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.

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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.
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