The Evidence-Backing: Chaga

The Evidence-Backing: Chaga

Cliff Harvey PhD

It is claimed that Chaga mushrooms (Inonutus obliquus) have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Antioxidant and stressor protection for cells

In vitro Chaga mushrooms protect cells against oxidation and mutagenicity (especially 3β-hydroxy-lanosta-8, 24-dien-21-al and inotodiol components). (1) And might help to protect against a range of stressors including UV radiation, free radicals, heavy metals, oxidised LDL and bacteria, and viruses. (2) In lymphocytes from human IBD patients, Chaga extract reduced oxidative stress. (3)

Anti-cancer effects

Chaga has also demonstrated anti-cancer effects in vitro and in vivo with reductions of tumour volume of 24-34% in mice treated with 0.1mg to 0.2mg of a Chaga extract, (4) and suppression of colon cancer cell growth (also in mice), (5) and reduced proliferation of neurogliocytoma cells. (6)

Possible benefits for metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, and diabetes

Some evidence also suggests that by stimulating gene expression of PPARy and GLUT-4 transporters, that Chaga might aid dyslipidaemia and metabolic syndrome (and possibly other disorders related to metabolism). Improved liver enzyme profiles, reduced oxidation, and increased glutathione has been observed in rats treated with Chaga mushroom powder (50g/Kg), (7) and similarly, reduced oxidation and improved liver enzyme profiles in rats treated with a water extract of Chaga, even at low concentrations of around 10 ug/mL. (8) In diabetic mice, Chaga significantly increased HDL, while reducing triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL. The extract also helped to restore damaged pancreatic tissue and increase insulin levels. (9)

Anti-viral activity against Herpes Simplex

Chaga extracts have successfully treated Herpes Simplex infected cells, without damage to the cells. (10)

Anti-allergy activity

Chaga has also been demonstrated to reduce anaphylaxis and production of IgE antibodies in response to an allergen, suggesting some anti-allergic potential. (11)


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  1. Ham S-S, Kim S-H, Moon S-Y, Chung MJ, Cui C-B, Han E-K, et al. Antimutagenic effects of subfractions of Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extract. Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis. 2009;672(1):55-9.
  2. Song H-S, Lee Y-J, Kim S-K, Moon K, Moon W, Kim D, et al. Downregulatory Effect of AGI-1120 (Ñß-Glucosidase Inhibitor) and Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) on Cellular NF-kB Activation and Their Antioxidant Activity. Korean Journal of Phamacognosy. 2004.
  3. Najafzadeh M, Reynolds PD, Baumgartner A, Jerwood D, Anderson D. Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in lymphocytes of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. BioFactors. 2008;31(3‐4):191-200.
  4. Chung MJ, Chung C-K, Jeong Y, Ham S-S. Anticancer activity of subfractions containing pure compounds of Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extract in human cancer cells and in Balbc/c mice bearing Sarcoma-180 cells. Nutr Res Pract. 2010;4(3):177-82.
  5. Kang J-H, Jang J-E, Mishra SK, Lee H-J, Nho CW, Shin D, et al. Ergosterol peroxide from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) exhibits anti-cancer activity by down-regulation of the β-catenin pathway in colorectal cancer. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2015;173:303-12.
  6. Ning X, Luo Q, Li C, Ding Z, Pang J, Zhao C. Inhibitory Effects of a Polysaccharide Extract from the Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, <i>Inonotus obliquus</i> (Higher Basidiomycetes), on the Proliferation of Human Neurogliocytoma Cells. 2014;16(1):29-36.
  7. Cha J-Y, Jun B-S, Lee C-H, Yooi K-S, Moon J-C, Cho Y-S. Hypoglycemic and antioxidative effects of fermented Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Journal of Life Science. 2005;15(5):809-18.
  8. Hong KB, Noh DO, Park Y, Suh HJ. Hepatoprotective Activity of Water Extracts from Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, <i>Inonotus obliquus</i> (Higher Basidiomycetes) Against Tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide&minus;Induced Oxidative Liver Injury in Primary Cultured Rat Hepatocytes. 2015;17(11):1069-76.
  9. Xu X, Pang C, Yang C, Zheng Y, Xu H, Lu Z, et al. Antihyperglycemic and Antilipidperoxidative Effects of Polysaccharides Extracted from Medicinal Mushroom Chaga, <i>Inonotus obliquus</i> (Pers.: Fr.) Pil&#225;t (Aphyllophoromycetideae) on Alloxan-Diabetes Mice. 2010;12(3):235-44.
  10. Polkovnikova MV, Nosik NN, Garaev TM, Kondrashina NG, Finogenova MP, Shibnev VA. [A study of the antiherpetic activity of the chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extracts in the Vero cells infected with the herpes simplex virus]. Vopr Virusol. 2014;59(2):45-8.
  11. Yoon TJ, Lee SJ, Kim EY, Cho EH, Kang TB, Yu K-W, et al. Inhibitory effect of chaga mushroom extract on compound 48/80-induced anaphylactic shock and IgE production in mice. International Immunopharmacology. 2013;15(4):666-70.



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