How Chaga Mushrooms Can Improve Gut Health

Last Updated on November 8, 2022

Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries in Eastern medicine for their purported health benefits. Recently, Western science has begun to catch up to what traditional healers have known all along – that chaga is a powerful medicinal mushroom with a wide range of health-promoting properties.

One area of particular interest is the role that chaga mushrooms may play in gut health. This is because the gut is home to a large number of microorganisms, known as the gut microbiota, which are essential for good health.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.9 million people in 2018 visited the emergency room with diseases of the digestive system as the primary diagnosis. We are all aware of the significance of gut health for general wellbeing, but did you know that it can also have an impact on our mood and energy levels? Maintaining gut health is crucial for this reason.

The gut microbiota has been shown to influence a wide variety of processes in the body, including immunity, metabolism, and even brain function. Chaga mushroom is being used to treat and prevent gut health issues.

What Is Chaga Mushroom?

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.

chaga mushroom on birch tree

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

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.

Gut health

Gut health is a term used to describe the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract is a long, tube-like structure that runs from the mouth to the anus. It is responsible for digesting food and absorbing nutrients.

The gut microbiota is the community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) that live in the gastrointestinal tract. The gut microbiota is essential for gut health.

There are many different types of bacteria that make up the gut microbiota. Some of these bacteria are beneficial, while others can be harmful. The balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut microbiota is important for maintaining gut health.

The composition of the gut microbiota can be influenced by many factors, including diet, age, medications, and stress.

chaga gut health

Symptoms of poor gut health

Poor gut health can lead to a number of different symptoms, including:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss or gain

Complications of poor gut health

Poor gut health can also lead to a number of serious complications, including:

  • Malnutrition: if the gut is not functioning properly, nutrients may not be absorbed properly, leading to malnutrition.
  • Infection: the gut microbiota helps to protect the body against infection. A dysbiosis (imbalance) of the gut microbiota can increase the risk of infection.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: inflammatory bowel disease is a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. These conditions include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Cancer: some types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer, have been linked to dysbiosis of the gut microbiota.

Traditional treatments for gut diseases

The traditional treatments for gut diseases include a combination of diet, lifestyle changes, and medications.

  • Dietary changes that may be recommended include avoiding trigger foods, eating more fiber, and taking probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms (usually bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms that live in the gut.
  • Probiotics are available in supplement form or in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
  • Lifestyle changes that may be recommended include stress reduction, exercise, and quitting smoking.
  • Medications that may be used to treat gut diseases include antidiarrheal medications, antibiotics, and immune-suppressing drugs.


Chaga Mushrooms Used in Improving Gut Health

Chaga has been studied to aid in the treatment of several digestive system diseases.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

In this study, 28 mice were divided into 4 treatment groups and were fed either extract of Inonotus obliquus, a commercial diet, or a diet that induced colitis.

Treatment with Chaga mushroom decreased the expression of several molecules implicated in the development of colitis. Researchers concluded that the experimental finding obtained in their study suggests the therapeutic use of Inonotus obliquus extract to ameliorate gut diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Likewise, in another study from 2012, the aqueous extract of Inonotus obliquus ameliorated acute inflammation in mice with colitis. Female mice were randomly divided into groups, that were given different doses of Chaga mushroom extract.

Afterward, biopsies of the colonic tissues were taken and examined which showed that the mushroom extracts suppressed cellular swelling, damage to the mucosa, and architectural changes as a result of colitis. Inonotus obliquus extracts also demonstrated their suppressive effect on the infiltration of immune cells.

The results suggest the anti-inflammatory effect of Chaga mushroom on colorectal tissues and that it might be a useful supplement in the setting of inflammatory bowel disease.

Promotes Healthy Gut Bacteria

Chaga mushroom contains many different bioactive compounds that support gastrointestinal health. One such is melano-glucan complexes which have anti-microbial potential. Together with melanin, these complexes help boost the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Therefore, Chaga mushrooms can aid in balancing out the gut flora and prevent dysbiosis.

Similarly, the anti-oxidant potential of Chaga decreases inflammation and removes free radicals. This property can benefit several gut problems like IBD that are linked with an impaired immune and inflammatory response.

Chaga Consumption Methods for gut health

chaga supplement powder

Chaga Dual Extracts

Dual Extracts are the most common method of consumption of Chaga for gut 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. 

  • Tinctures are liquid extracts that most often contain a water extraction and alcohol extraction mixed into one.
    • Dosage for gut health: About 1-2 dropper fulls but consult with the product packaging or producer directly.
  • 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.
    • Dosage for gut health: Around 500-1000mg but you should consult the packaging or producer directly.
  • Capsules are the second most common method of consumption of Chaga for gut health. Capsules typically contain powdered extracts. They are convenient as the doses are pre-measured so there’s no guesswork involved. Also, they can be easily incorporated into existing routines.
    • Dosage for gut health: 1 to 2 pills a day or as indicated by the producer.

 

High Quality Chaga supplements for improving gut health

If you are considering taking Chaga as a supplement for the improvement of gut health, it is important that you choose medicinal mushroom products from reputable producers that have a proven history and experience in improving stomach health conditions.  Browse our findings on the the top Chaga powders in the United States, the top produecers of Chaga mushrooms in Australia, and the best Chaga in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for Chaga mushrooms to show health benefits for gut health?

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 when consumed over long periods of time for improving gut health. 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 three weeks of use. To get the full potential of Chaga mushroom, you should be taking it consistently for about a month or even more.

Can I take Chaga mushroom with my gut health medication? 

There are many different types of gut health medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors, histamine blockers, and promotility agents. Chaga is generally safe to be taken with gut health 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 gut health?

No, because raw chaga 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 improving gut health 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 gut health?

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 gut health 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 gut health will diminish over time once you stop taking the medicinal mushroom.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the gut-health promoting benefits of Chaga mushrooms are clear. Inonotus obliquus can have a profound impact on our overall health, by helping to keep our gut microbiota in balance. By doing so, Chaga can help us to avoid many of the common digestive disorders that plague so many people today. If you are looking for a natural way to support your gut health, Chaga mushrooms should definitely be on your radar.

As more people turn to Chaga mushrooms to improve gut health it is important to understand it is not a definitive cure. 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://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31238558/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22819687/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840610/ 

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.