While this ingredient might sound new, it’s actually been around for hundreds of years – it’s found in cold regions throughout Asia, Eastern Europe and even North America. Scientifically known as Inonotus obliquus, Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch trees and ground down into a fine powder, then consumed as a tea or incorporated into everyday dishes.
Did you know that Chaga rates very high on the list of ORAC scores? ORAC is short for Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity, which is the rating of a food that indicates the level of protection to the body against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are a true enemy of the body and are responsible for a number of diseases and sources of inflammation throughout the skin, muscles and organs. Through studies, it has been proved that Chaga inhibits oxidative stress and damage to the DNA.
One such study examined just how the mushroom extract affected cells. One group of cells was protected with a Chaga extract, while another group was used as the control. After one group of cells were treated with varying levels of extract, they were subjected to Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) as oxidative stress for five minutes. At the end of the study, the cells pre-treated with Chaga extract had 40 percent less DNA damage than the control group.
Further studies must be done to understand how other sources of oxidative stress affect DNA and cells, but the results are promising. Additionally, scientists are realizing that Chaga has the ability to reduce cancer cells without affecting the normal cells around it. This is positive news for those who are undergoing traditional forms of radiation and chemotherapy. As effective as chemotherapy can be for cancerous tumors, it also damages the immune system and surrounding cells, making recovery much slower. Alternatively, through the power of Chaga, scientists are seeing that this potent antioxidant might be an invaluable tool for cancer therapies in the future. Studies have shown that Chaga has the ability to focus in on cancer cells and effectively treat them while also keeping the immune system functioning at more normal levels.
For those who are taking medication or cancer therapies, always make sure to talk to your doctor before using or incorporating Chaga into a regimen. More studies must be done on the effectiveness of Chaga – also, some properties of the mushroom could alter how select nutrients are absorbed, which is important for those on a very strict cancer treatment.
Chaga is an exceptional antioxidant to use as part of an anti-aging or healthy lifestyle. Enjoy it as a tea beverage once a day to absorb the antioxidants and protect the body’s tissues against free radicals. The immune-boosting properties of Chaga also makes it an ideal addition to a daily routine, especially during the winter months, for those who experience frequent illness.
 Park, Yoo Kyoung, Hyang Burm Lee, Eun‐Jae Jeon, Hack Sung Jung, and Myung‐Hee Kang. "Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay." BioFactors. December 16, 2008. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/biof.552210120/full.