✓ Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Dr. Jesse Ropat, PharmD, RPh, B.Sc.
Chaga, known in the scientific community as Inonotus obliquus, is a type of medicinal mushroom believed to enhance the immune system and provide an array of other anti-aging health benefits. This mushroom has a wide range of benefits attributed to it, including anti-cancer, antioxidant, blood sugar and cholesterol regulating properties. Though this medicinal agent has been in use since the 16th century, the research to back these claims is limited, but growing steadily. Today, we’ll cover whether a Chaga mushroom powder supplement is worth the try and the best options on the market.
Chaga mushrooms are a type of fungus that grow on the bark of birch trees. Since birch trees grow in cold climates, you’ll likely find chaga mushrooms in northern corners of the world such as Russia, Korea, Canada, Alaska, and Northern Europe. They have a charcoal-like exterior with a soft, orange fruiting body.
Believed to contribute to good health and immunity, chaga mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries across Northern Europe and Russia. Today, many people believe that chaga mushrooms’ high antioxidant levels can lower blood sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease, and even prevent cancer. Many of the claims about chaga mushroom’s benefits, however, have been anecdotal and not based on scientific research. That being said, the evidence is growing, so don’t lose hope yet.
Traditionally, chaga mushrooms were ground into a powder and used in teas. While it is still used as a tea today, you’re more likely to find chaga in a capsule or powder-based supplement. Some supplements only contain chaga, while others offer a mushroom blend with chaga as one of the ingredients. Chaga is versatile and releases its beneficial properties when prepared hot or cold. The extraction process can play a big role in what compounds can be, well, extracted from the mushroom. See the FAQ for some more details.
When something is used for centuries, sometimes the placebo affect is simply playing a big role. However, sometimes there is substance behind the folklore, and this may very well be one of those products.
Chaga mushrooms have been shown to provide ample health benefits. For instance, they might enhance immune function and reduce inflammation, both of which can contribute to reducing tumor development and progression. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to any encounter with a potentially harmful substance, like bacteria. However, long-term inflammation can wreak havoc on the body, leading to issues like arthritis and heart disease. Animal research also suggests that chaga mushrooms might stop the production of cytokines, harmful proteins that can cause inflammation, in the body. By preventing cytokine production, chaga mushrooms can prevent inflammation and its associated conditions from developing.
In addition, chaga mushrooms might lower blood sugar levels. The mechanism is not entirely clear, but the best models available suggest it can help reduce insulin resistance, which plays a key role in diabetes progression. A few animal studies found an association between chaga mushroom consumption and lower blood sugar levels. In fact, one study showed that consuming a chaga mushroom supplement decreased blood sugar levels by 31 percent in just three weeks. Since high blood sugar increases the risk of developing diabetes, studies suggest that chaga mushroom supplements can serve as a preventative agent for diabetes.
Lastly, chaga mushrooms might lower cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of developing heart disease. One study showed that chaga mushroom consumption simultaneously increased antioxidant levels while lowering bad cholesterol levels in rats. Other studies produced similar conclusions, finding that chaga mushrooms can lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.
While these results are promising, more research is needed to further understand the effects of chaga mushrooms on humans. With that being said, let’s take a look at the 6 best Chaga Mushroom supplements available today.
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Price: From $29.95
RealMushrooms Organic Siberian Chaga Extract Powder has everything you could want in a chaga supplement. It contains chaga mushroom extract that is certified organic, rich in beta-glucans, and free of gluten and mycelium. You can add this powder to any coffee, tea, smoothie, or recipe for its benefits. Each package contains 60 x 1000 mg servings, and with no grain fillers or other extra unnecessary fillers included, you can be sure to get what you pay for.
Price: From $29.95
RealMushrooms offers an equally beneficial capsule-based chaga supplement. It contains certified organic chaga mushroom extract in a vegan-friendly capsule. You can also break open the capsules and pour the contents into any beverage or recipe, making it a versatile product. It’s also gluten-free with no additives or preservatives. Each bottle contains 60 x 1000 mg servings.
Price: From $19.47
Om Mushrooms offers a great powder-based supplement that is certified organic, made in the USA, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. You can add one teaspoon of this powder to your morning smoothie, coffee, or matcha for an extra health boost. Each package contains 50 x 2000 mg servings.
Price: From $21.70
Om Mushrooms also offers its Chaga Mushroom supplement in capsule form. These Chaga Mushroom Capsules are gluten-free, vegan, and keto and paleo-friendly, making it a suitable supplement for any diet. Despite its benefits, Om’s capsules might not be the most cost-effective option. Each bottle contains only 30 x 2000 mg servings.
Price: From $20.00
Last on our list is California Gold Nutrition Fungiology MushRex Plus, which is a blend of various medicinal mushrooms. It contains Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, and Turkey Tail fruiting bodies. Combined, these ingredients can provide serious anti-inflammatory benefits.
Now, one major downside of proprietary blends like MushRex is that it’s impossible to know the breakdown of each ingredient per serving. But if you’re looking to combine chaga with other superfoods, California Gold’s blend is a great option. Each bottle contains 120 x 450 mg servings.
This product hits all the dietary requirements – it’s non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. Not only do they make sure their manufacturing process uses the whole fruiting body of their high-quality farm-grown mushrooms, but this product is without additives – pure chaga. FreshCap uses GMP-certified facilities and third party testing to ensure you get what you expect, and nothing less.
Although we ranked these supplements, we want you to decide on the best product for you. Here’s what we took into consideration when ranking these chaga mushroom powders.
The supplement industry isn’t FDA-regulated, which can make finding a reputable supplement challenging.
That’s why we only select companies that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations and have their products third-party tested.
Because chaga is one of many medicinal mushrooms, we looked for products that offered chaga alone and in combination with other beneficial ingredients.
We also made sure the products we selected were free of any junk you don’t need, like additives and preservatives.
You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to live a healthy life. That’s why we selected high-quality products that won’t hurt your wallet.
Chaga mushroom powder supplements are generally safe. However, chaga can interact with certain medications. People who are on blood thinners should not take chaga supplements as they contain ingredients that might interfere with blood clotting.
Because chaga can stimulate activity in the immune system, people with autoimmune disorders should consult with a health professional before trying any chaga mushroom supplements.
Chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and provide an array of potential health benefits. If you’re looking to improve your heart or immune health, a chaga mushroom supplement is worth the try.
There is always a bit of a gray area when discussing dosing of natural health products. That being said, the most commonly quoted doses you will see across most sources hovers around 0.5g to 2g, taken once daily.
My general rule of thumb for natural products such as this is: whichever form you take consistently. The sources listed here are all either capsules or dry powder, which more or less equate to the same thing. If you’re someone who loves your morning smoothies, opt for the powder. If you like to take all your supplements at once in a big handful of capsules to avoid the taste, then go for the oral capsules.
There are many ways to extract the useful compounds from the raw mushrooms: water extraction, alcohol extraction, ultrasonic assisted extraction, the options go on and on. Some extractions, based on the medium used to extract, can potentially grab different compounds out of the mushroom, meaning that not every extraction is the same, even if they use the same mushrooms. The most traditional method is using hot water extraction, but if using more phenolic compounds the extract takes on various different compounds that are left behind using the traditional method. Is one better than the other? It’s hard to say – the data doesn’t seem to suggest a staggering difference.
While most studies have been promising for the anti-cancer properties of Chaga, they have mostly been in animal models. For example, one study in mice showed that taking a chaga mushroom supplement suppressed the development of cancer. The mechanism is not clear, but it may have to do with modulating the tumor microenvironment, preventing blood vessel growth in the cancer environment, and keeping the body temperature of the mice low (body temperature has been shown to correlate with tumor development).
Chaga is thought to improve cholesterol levels by promoting the production of HDL (the good cholesterol), transporting more cholesterol from the blood to the liver, and increasing the metabolism of triglycerides. Not only that, but it can also reduce insulin resistance (again in mice); one study found a significant improvement in blood sugar and fasting blood glucose levels, as well as glucose tolerance.
Our bodies naturally produce oxidants, antioxidants, and free radicals – all of which play vital homeostasis roles. However, when the balance is thrown off, disastrous consequences can occur, resulting in cancer, aging, and a slew of other diseases. Studies have shown that chaga (in particular, IOPS, which stands for Inonotus obliquus polysaccharide) exhibits antioxidant properties, which may explain the anti-cancer properties it possesses.
Chaga has been shown in studies to increase lymphocyte proliferation (a type of white blood cell), which can explain a potential separate avenue by which this mushroom extract is able to prevent tumour proliferation and growth. While there are many potential pathways, it’s likely they all work in concert.