Health Benefits Of Chaga

  • Angus Sinclair Master's degree, Ethnopharmacology/ Ethnobotany, University of Kent
  • Jialu Li Master of Science in Language Sciences (Neuroscience) UCL
  • Antonina Swierkowska MSc Translational Neuroscience, The University of Sheffield


When it comes to natural remedies and superfoods, there’s one hidden gem that’s been making waves in the world of health and wellness: Chaga. This unique fungus, scientifically known as Inonotus obliquus, grows predominantly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates such as Siberia, Northern Canada, and Alaska. But don’t let its humble appearance deceive you; beneath its rough exterior lies a treasure trove of health benefits that can significantly contribute to your overall well-being.

A brief overview of chaga 

Chaga is not your typical mushroom. It resembles a dark clump of dirt more than anything else, but it’s been prized in various cultures for its medicinal properties for centuries. This fungus is rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, making it a powerful ally in combating oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.1

Chaga mushroom harvested from a tree. The orange side of chaga faces the bark of a tree and it’s not usually visible so the fungus appears to be charcoal-like from the outside.

Historical context and traditional uses

Historically, Chaga has been used in folk medicine in Russia, Poland, and other Baltic countries for its supposed healing properties. Traditional uses include brewing it into a tea to boost immunity, improve overall health, and even as a remedy for cancer. Although scientific research on Chaga is still in its infancy, preliminary studies have shown promising results, supporting its traditional uses.2

The recent surge in popularity in western wellness communities

In recent years, Chaga has gained significant popularity in Western countries, especially among health and wellness enthusiasts. This surge in popularity can be attributed to its potent antioxidant properties and the increasing number of studies exploring its potential health benefits. With more people looking for natural ways to boost their health and immunity, Chaga has found its way into various products, from teas and powders to supplements and skincare products.

Chaga is a fascinating fungus with a rich history and plenty of potential health benefits. Whether you’re looking to combat oxidative stress, boost your immune system, or simply explore natural remedies, Chaga might be the superfood you’ve been searching for. So, let’s delve deeper into the world of Chaga and discover how it can help you and your health.

Nutritional composition of chaga

Exploring the nutritional profile of Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) reveals why this fungus is valued in various traditional medicine practices. Chaga is not just a mushroom; it is a dense source of a wide array of nutrients and bioactive compounds that significantly contribute to its antioxidative and health-promoting properties.


Antioxidants are crucial in neutralising free radicals, the unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress leading to damage of cells, ageing, and various diseases. Chaga is remarkably rich in antioxidants, and this is a key aspect of its health-boosting potential.

  • Superoxide Dismutase (SOD): SOD is an enzyme crucial for disarming the most common free radical in the human body, the superoxide radical. Chaga has a high content of SOD, providing a robust defence against oxidative stress and contributing to its potential to slow down the ageing process.3
  • Beta-Glucans: These are polysaccharides known for their immune-boosting properties. The beta-glucans found in Chaga help modulate the immune system, ensuring it is responsive enough to fight off infections while also preventing it from becoming overactive, which could lead to autoimmune diseases.4
  • Polyphenols: Polyphenols are plant compounds with antioxidant properties. Chaga is a rich source of polyphenols, which contribute to its ability to mitigate oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting overall health and well-being.5

Vitamins and minerals

Chaga provides a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, contributing to its overall nutritional value. It contains vitamin D, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which play vital roles in maintaining bodily functions and supporting good health.4


Phytochemicals are bioactive compounds found in plants, and Chaga is full of them. These include triterpenoids, sterols, and melanin. Melanin, in particular, gives Chaga its characteristic dark colour and has been found to have antioxidant and DNA-protective properties.2

In summary, the nutritional composition of Chaga positions it as a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These constituents collectively contribute to its reputation as a health-boosting superfood, offering a range of benefits that support overall well-being.

Health benefits of chaga

Chaga mushroom has been studied for its extensive range of health benefits. This section delves into the specifics of how Chaga contributes to overall health and wellness.

Antioxidant properties and oxidative stress reduction

  • Fighting free radicals: Chaga’s rich antioxidant content helps in neutralising free radicals, unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress and damage cells. One study found that Chaga extracts exhibited strong antioxidant activity, protecting against oxidative damage to DNA and cells.2
  • Potential anti-ageing effects: The antioxidants in Chaga, particularly Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), have potential anti-ageing effects. SOD is crucial in breaking down the superoxide radical, a common free radical in the body, helping to reduce oxidative stress and potentially slowing down the ageing process.2

Immune system support

  • Modulating immune response: Beta-glucans found in Chaga play a role in modulating the immune system, ensuring it is active enough to defend against infections while preventing it from becoming overactive, which could lead to autoimmune diseases.6
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Chaga has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial in managing conditions associated with inflammation. The polyphenols in Chaga contribute to its ability to reduce inflammation and promote overall health.5

Potential anti-cancer effects

  • Apoptosis induction in cancer cells: Some studies have explored Chaga’s potential in inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. One study demonstrated that Chaga extract could induce apoptosis in human hepatoma cells, showing promise for its use in cancer therapy .8
  • Reduction of tumour growth: In addition to inducing apoptosis in cancer cells, Chaga has also been studied for its role in reducing tumour growth. The research found that Chaga extract inhibited the growth of cancer cells and reduced tumour size in animal models.9

Cardiovascular health

  • Lowering cholesterol levels: Chaga has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, including the potential to lower cholesterol levels. One study found that Chaga polysaccharides reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels in mice.10
  • Improving circulation: The antioxidants in Chaga also contribute to better circulation and overall cardiovascular health. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, Chaga helps maintain healthy blood vessels, promoting good circulation.2

Digestive health

  • Anti-ulcer effects: Chaga has been traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal issues, including ulcers. One study found that Chaga extracts had protective effects against gastric ulcers in animal models, suggesting its potential for human digestive health.11
  • Supporting gut microbiota: Chaga’s prebiotic properties contribute to a healthy gut microbiome, supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria while inhibiting harmful ones. This balance is crucial for overall digestive health and wellness.4

In conclusion, Chaga offers a wealth of health benefits ranging from its antioxidant properties and immune support to potential anti-cancer effects, cardiovascular health, and digestive wellness. These diverse benefits make Chaga a promising natural remedy for various health concerns.

How to use chaga

Incorporating Chaga into your daily routine can be a beneficial practice, thanks to its rich antioxidant properties and health-boosting potential. Understanding the right methods of consumption, dosages, and potential side effects is key to maximising its benefits.

Traditional methods of consumption

Historically, Chaga has been most commonly consumed in the form of tea. The chunks or powder of the mushroom are steeped in hot water to create an infusion. This traditional method has been used for centuries, particularly in Siberia and other parts of Asia, as a holistic remedy for various ailments.1 Additionally, some cultures have incorporated Chaga into soups and stews, using it as a medicinal ingredient.

Modern products and supplements

With the advent of modern technology and increased interest in functional foods, Chaga is now available in various forms, including powders, capsules, and tinctures.12 These products offer a convenient and accessible way for individuals to incorporate Chaga into their daily routine. However, it is crucial to source these products from reputable suppliers to ensure their purity and potency.

Recommended dosages and potential side effects

While Chaga is generally considered safe for consumption, it is important to adhere to recommended dosages and be aware of potential side effects. The appropriate dosage may vary depending on the form of Chaga being used, and it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.14 Though side effects are rare, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort. Additionally, Chaga may interact with certain medications, so seeking medical advice is imperative to prevent any adverse effects.

In summary, whether you prefer traditional brewing methods or modern supplements, Chaga offers a versatile option for boosting your health. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional to tailor its use to your individual needs and to ensure a safe and beneficial experience.

Precautions and considerations

When considering incorporating Chaga into your health regimen, it’s crucial to be aware of potential interactions and the importance of quality sourcing.

Interactions with medications

Chaga has been found to interact with certain medications, including anticoagulants (for the prevention of blood clots) and hypoglycemic drugs (for low blood sugar), potentially increasing their effects.1 If you’re taking prescription medications, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before starting Chaga to avoid any adverse reactions.

Quality and sourcing of Chaga products

The quality of Chaga products can vary significantly depending on the source. Opt for products from reputable suppliers that provide information on their harvesting and production practices to ensure you’re getting a pure, potent product.12

Sustainable harvesting practices

Overharvesting of Chaga can harm the birch trees it grows on and disrupt local ecosystems. Supporting suppliers that adhere to sustainable harvesting practices helps preserve this valuable resource for future generations.14


Is it ok to drink chaga every day?

It is generally considered safe to drink Chaga daily, but it is crucial to adhere to recommended dosages. Please consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you are taking other medications.

Who should not use chaga? 

Individuals on anticoagulants, hypoglycemic drugs, or those with a birch pollen allergy should avoid Chaga, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult a healthcare provider before use.1

Why does chaga make me feel good? 

Chaga can enhance feelings of well-being due to its high antioxidant content, which helps combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.5, 6

Is chaga good for gut health?

Yes, Chaga has potential benefits for gut health due to its anti-inflammatory properties and support for a healthy immune response.5, 6


Chaga mushroom presents a fascinating option for those looking to bolster their health and wellness through natural means.

We’ve explored Chaga’s rich nutritional composition, brimming with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that collectively contribute to its reputation as an antioxidant powerhouse. We’ve delved into the various health benefits associated with its use, ranging from supporting the immune system to potential anti-cancer effects, and have provided guidance on how to incorporate Chaga into your daily routine.

As interest in functional foods continues to rise, Chaga is poised to become even more integral in the realm of health and wellness. Ongoing research and clinical trials are likely to shed further light on its potential uses and benefits.

Finally, it’s important to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating Chaga or any other supplements into your regimen, ensuring that it aligns with your health needs and avoiding potential interactions with medications.


  1. Lu Y, Jia Y, Xue Z, Li N, Liu J, Chen H. Recent Developments in Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) Polysaccharides: Isolation, Structural Characteristics, Biological Activities and Application. Polymers (Basel). 2021;13(9):1441.
  2. Zeng P, Guo Z, Zeng X, et al. Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China. J Cell Mol Med. 2018;22(7):3278-97.
  3. Zheng W, Zhao Y, Zhang M, Wei Z, Miao K, Sun W. Oxidative stress response of Inonotus obliquus induced by hydrogen peroxide. Med Mycol. 2009;47(8):814-23.
  4. Emilia Bernas, Grazyna Jaworska, Zofia Lisiewska Edible mushrooms as a source of valuable nutritive constituents. Edible mushrooms as a source of valuable nutritive constituents. 2006;5(1):5-20.
  5. Nayak B, Liu RH, Tang J. Effect of processing on phenolic antioxidants of fruits, vegetables, and grains--a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(7):887-919.
  6. Rop O, Reznicek V, Valsikova M, et al. Antioxidant properties of European cranberrybush fruit (Viburnum opulus var. edule). Molecules. 2010;15(6):4467-77.
  7. Lai F, Wen Q, Li L, Wu H, Li X. Antioxidant activities of water-soluble polysaccharide extracted from mung beans (Phaseolus radiatus L.) with ultrasonic-assisted treatment. Carbohydr Polym. 2010;81(2):323-29.
  8. Youn MJ, Kim JK, Park SY, et al. Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) induces G0/G1 arrest and apoptosis in human hepatoma HepG2 cells. World J Gastroenterol. 2008;14(4):511-7.
  9. Park YM, Won JH, Kim YH, et al. In vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of the methanol extract of Inonotus obliquus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;101(1-3):120-8.
  10. Yang M, Hu D, Cui Z, et al. Lipid-Lowering Effects of Inonotus obliquus Polysaccharide In Vivo and In Vitro. Foods. 2021;10(12):3085.
  11. Pan HH, Yu XT, Li T, et al. Aqueous extract from a Chaga medicinal mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (higher Basidiomycetes), prevents herpes simplex virus entry through inhibition of viral-induced membrane fusion. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(1):29-38.
  12. Tee Yon Ern P, Yin Quan T, Shin Yee F, Yoke Yin AC. Therapeutic properties of Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom): a review. Mycology. 2023.
  13. Brown GD, Gordon S. Immune recognition of fungal β-glucans. Cellular Microbiology. 2005;4(11):805-10.
  14. Thomas P, Elkhateeb W, Daba G. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus): a medical marvel but a conservation dilemma? Conservation Biology. 2020;26(4):613-21.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Angus Sinclair

Master's degree, Ethnopharmacology/ Ethnobotany, University of Kent

With a focus on medical writing, I bring a background in Ethnopharmacology and a Master's degree from the University of Kent. As a Medical Writing Intern at Klarity Health, I specialize in translating complex clinical data into accessible articles for diverse audiences. My skills include medical writing, research, and regulatory knowledge. I've previously held roles in engineering and marketing, showcasing my versatility. Committed to professional development, collaboration, and fostering inclusivity, I thrive in environments that value continuous learning and employee well-being. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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