Known as the “best of the best” when it comes to medicinal mushrooms, chaga is quickly gaining popularity on the internet for its multiple health benefits (up there with green coffee bean extract and matcha green tea).
While we are just now learning about the miraculous uses for chaga, the fungus has long been used for hundreds of years in countries such as Russia, Siberia, and parts of Asia.
What makes the chaga mushroom so special and does it have any side effects? We’ll cover all of this later in the article when we break down how it works, the benefits and side effects, and how to take chaga mushroom supplements.
But before we get there, we’ve ranked the top 5 chaga mushroom supplements on the market according to price, quality, and customer reviews.
So what’s the best chaga mushroom supplement on the market?
1- Primal Herb Chaga Mushroom
Primal Herb offers one of the purest and authentic chaga mushroom supplements the market has ever seen.
Their wild harvested chaga mushroom extract powder contains 40% polysaccarides and is extracted at a 30:1 ratio, making it one of the most potent chaga mushroom supplements on Amazon.
According to Primal Herb, they harvest their wild, fully matured chaga mushrooms straight from the birch trees of Siberia. They also use a unique, two-step extraction process. Here’s what they have to say about it:
“We use a Dual Extraction Process: both water and alcohol extraction. This process allows for the extraction of some of the most active and bioavailable compounds. In the extraction process, we use purified water and Non-GMO ethanol.”
Absolutely no fillers, no binders, and no artificial ingredients.
Serving size: 1/2 teaspoon – 120 servings total in the bag.
2- Activa Naturals Chaga
Each capsule contains 500 mg of chaga mycelium but you take two capsules for a whopping 1 gram serving of chaga extract. One of the strongest dosage of chaga compared to other leading chaga products.
According to the manufacturer:
“Chaga Mushroom may support the immune system with its unique ingredients such as polysaccharides, Beta-D-Glucans, phytosterols, Betulin and betulinic.”
This product is manufactured in the USA and contains absolutely no fillers, no chemicals, no additives, and no artificial colors.
Take 2 capsules per serving – 60 servings total in the bottle.
3- Sayan Health Chaga Extract
Sayan Health offers a premium Siberian chaga mushroom water extract produced by using a freeze drying process to ensure the product is optimized with the most essential nutrients.
Here’s what the Sayan company has to say about what separates their chaga supplement from their competition:
“Sayan offers Chaga extract produced by a low-temperature water extraction with freeze dry process to ensure maximum potency. Other manufacturers use an infrared drying process that can scorch the herb and destroy its precious nutrients.
In order to get just 1 pound of Chaga extract powder, we process 6.25 pounds of raw Chaga. Our nutritional supplement is 100% pure and unadulterated. We never mix in other herbs to cut corners and always keep our prices competitive for our customers.”
Serving size: 1/2 tsp. – about 56 servings total in the bag.
4- Host Defense Chaga
With one of the best selling mycelium-sourced chaga supplements on Amazon, it’s hard to go wrong with Host Defense.
They use a chaga mushroom mycelium grown on brown rice, which is kind of like the mushroom’s root system. It is important to note that this product is from cultivated chaga mushrooms grown on the manufacturer’s own farm, not the wild ones found in Siberia.
According to the manufacturer:
“Host Defense® Chaga uses activated, freeze-dried, Certified Organic mycelium, with a full spectrum of constituents: polysaccharides (beta glucans, arabinoxylane, glucose, xylose, galactose and mannose), glycoproteins, ergosterols, triterpenoids, mycoflavonoids, and other myco-nutrients, which are essential for supporting natural immunity.”
Recommended dosage instructions: Take 2 capsules once per day, with or without food.
Serving size: 2 capsules – 30 servings total in the container.
5- My Berry Organics Maine Chaga
Just plain chaga roots, slow dried and ready to be made into tea. That’s exactly what you get with My Berry Organics Maine Chaga Tea Chunks.
These chaga mushrooms are harvested in the wild birch forests of Maine and have been conveniently sawed and hammered into small chunks ideal for making chaga tea. No strainers or tea bags needed.
Here’s what My Berry Organics says about how to prepare their chaga tea chunks for consumption:
“Directions: Bring water to a simmer, remove from heat, drop in one chunk and steep up to 15 min. Water must be quite hot to infuse. Water color will range from very light to dark depending upon which chunk is used. Both colors offer all the nutritional benefits of chaga.”
About 17-20 chunks in the bag – makes about 35-50 servings (depending on how you re-use chaga chunks).
What are chaga mushrooms?
Chaga mushrooms are part of the hymenochaetaceae family. This fungus grows on various trees, and is most often found on the birch species.
It features an irregular form that resembles the look of burnt charcoal. The black appearance is due to the large amount of melanin found inside.
Widely found in birch forests, chaga is native to Russia, Japan, Eastern and Northern Europe and Canada. In the United States, it can be found in Alaska, parts of the northernmost states, and in the North Carolina mountains.
Chaga has been used in folk medicine in various North European countries for generations. Today’s medical research on the fungus has centered around its traditional medical use as a form a cancer treating therapy .
A study using extracts from chaga on immunosuppressed mice found that it increased IL-6 levels, which could make it useful as an immune system enhancer while a cancer patient undergoes chemotherapy.
The study also showed that the fungus could suppress the growth of TNF-a, a cell that signals protein involved in inflammation.
How Chaga Mushrooms Have Changed Cancer Treatment Research
This could be helpful for individuals who live with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.
Recent studies have shown that chaga can activate the immune cells that are responsible for fighting off cancer growth. While these studies are still ongoing, the powerful fungus has shown to be effective in supporting various cancer treatment approaches such as chemotherapy.
It works by combating the negative side effects of the treatment. While it may not be the key to ending cancer overall, the current evidence we have now shows that there could be significant compounds inside the mushroom that make further investigation potentially beneficial .
When experts want to prove that an herb, fungus, or other natural ingredient can help fight cancer, there are several events that must take place. First, the researchers must show that the extract can successfully reduce cancer cells by performing a cell culture experiment.
If the experiment has positive results, they will then perform tests to see if the extract can reduce the size of a cancerous tumor. If that proves to be effective, and it is non-toxic to the test subject, the test can then be performed on humans in clinical studies.
At this time, there have not been any clinical experiments performed using chaga extract. However, there are numerous published reports that show chagas’s effect during cell culture experiments. Two groups have performed studies on chaga extract.
One showed that the Neurogliocytoma cells in the experiment were inhibited when treated with chaga extract. These cells are neurons or brain cells that have become cancerous.
How do chaga mushrooms work?
There are six key ingredients that give chaga mushrooms their incredible medical benefits. They are Polysaccharides, Beta-D-Glucans, Phytosterols, Betulin and Betulinic Acid, Antioxidants, and SODs.
This ingredient provides users with a powerful boost of energy, promotes heart health, improve liver health and intestinal function, and can also improve blood sugar levels. Polysaccharides are also believed to be excellent mood enhancers. This ingredient is found inside of the chitin walls of chaga.
This essential ingredient is known for helping improve the immune system. Beta-D-Glucans can help with balancing cholesterol levels (like fish oil) and keeping your blood sugar in check.
There are several types of phytosterols present in chaga such as Lanosterol, Inotodiols, Ergosterol, and Fecosterol. Various testing has shown that lanosterol and Inotodiols have a direct effect on cancer cells.
- Betulin and Betulinic Acid
Betulin and Betulinic acid are highly powerful therapeutic agents currently being studied for their positive effects on cholesterol levels. Along with helping to diminish bad cholesterol, these agents are also being researched on their effect against viruses and cancers.
Chaga contains prominent levels of natural melanin which is known for its antioxidant content. Chaga mushrooms actually have the highest ORAC score for antioxidant potency of any other superfood out there (camu camu is another powerful natural antioxidant).
This is another important antioxidant that can be found inside chaga. SOD is a group of enzymes known as Super Oxide Dismutase. They help protect our bodies from the harmful effects of uncontrolled oxidation as well as free radicals.
What are the benefits of chaga mushrooms?
There are several great health benefits to taking chaga mushrooms. They contain ingredients that can help boost the immune system and powerful antioxidants for overall well-being.
Here are a few of the key benefits that you can receive by taking a chaga supplement:
- A Healthy Immune System
Chaga can help to give our immune systems a boost, only as needed. Because of the mushroom’s high Beta-D-Glucan content, it can help to balance the body’s response to the immune system. That means it can slow down the activity of our immune system if it becomes overactive.
This makes chaga an excellent Biological Response Modifier.
- Soothing Pain Relief
Chaga can provide pain relief and soothing properties in times of irritation. It supports the function of our blood vessels which can be useful for those suffering from pain or neuropathy.
- Healthy Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Levels
Recent studies have shown that the amount of betulnic acid found in chaga mushrooms can help to regulate cholesterol levels and promote healthy blood pressure levels .
- Promotes Antimicrobial Activities
The chemical makeup and the biological activity of chaga mushroom extracts were examined in a study and showed that the cells have a high antioxidant and antimicrobial content.
- Prevents Damage to DNA
Additional studies have shown that cells pretreated with chaga extract and then later treated with H202 to promote oxidative stress had less damage than those that didn’t receive the chaga extract.
- Advanced Antiviral Properties
In limited studies, chaga mushrooms showed to provide benefits and protection to irritated skin and prevent blemishes.
- Helps with Ulcers and Gastritis
Because it can give our immune system a boost, chaga has been used over the years to promote good gastrointestinal health.
Ulcers are usually caused by bacteria such as Hellcobacter pylori. Having a healthy immune system can help fight off this and other harmful pathogens. Current ulcers can also be soothed by taking chaga.
What are the side effects of chaga mushrooms?
Chaga is a natural medicine that can safely be taken every day in reasonable amounts. Taking too much chaga at once can cause potential side effects.
The fungus is a natural blood thinner, therefore taking excessive amounts along with prescription blood thinners such as Plavix, or over the counter medications like Aspirin can have an adverse effect.
Chaga is also high in magnesium and potassium. While that is good news for those who need more of these nutrients in their diet, overconsumption of chaga could put a burden on your kidneys and lead to kidney damage.
Do not take additional magnesium or potassium supplements while you are taking chaga .
Diabetics should limit their chaga intake to maintain healthy blood sugars since the fungus is known to lower blood glucose levels. If you are already taking medication for diabetes, taking chaga could lead to hypoglycemia.
How do you take chaga mushrooms?
Chaga is a tonic and should be taken daily for best results. It is recommended that users consume one to two cups of chaga tea their overall health and well-being.
To help speed up healing or assist with other serious health conditions, it is recommended to take three to five cups of chaga tea for the initial dosage.
Make sure to pay close attention to the label on your chaga supplement and follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer.
While there are still multiple studies being performed on the effectiveness of chaga mushrooms when it comes to cancer treatment, so far, the outcome looks very good.
Even though we are still unsure if the mushroom itself can halt the disease, we do know that it can help to ease the pain and discomfort associated with chemotherapy, and that could be a huge relief for cancer patients receiving the treatment.
Along with that potential benefit, chaga can also help with various other health issues such as high blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels, pain management and diabetes.
Be sure to take chaga as directed since an overdose could lead to serious health issues. Chaga can be consumed as a tea and safely taken daily.