Chaga, Inonotus obliquus, is a mushroom that has been used in folk medicine in Russia, Poland, and most of the Baltic countries as a cleansing and disinfecting measure, and as decoctions for stomach diseases, intestinal worms, liver and heart ailments, and cancer treatment. It has been reported to have antibacterial, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antioxidant activities. Chaga mushroom can be prepared as a tea that is used for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal cancer, liver disease, parasites, stomachache, and tuberculosis.
Also known as: Birch Mushroom, Chaga Conk, Champignon de l’Immortalité, Cinder Conk, Clinker Polypore, Diamant de la Forêt, Don de Dieu, Siberian Chaga, Tchaga
Diseases and Conditions
There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of chaga for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal cancer, liver disease, parasites, stomachache, and tuberculosis.
There is insufficient information on the overall safety of chaga on children, adults, pregnant, and breastfeeding women. The side effects of chaga remain unknown. Chaga may inhibit platelet aggregation and reduce blood glucose; discontinue use at least 2 weeks before surgery. Chaga is not recommended for those with autoimmune diseases, bleeding disorders, and diabetes.
Chaga has moderate interactions with anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, antidiabetes drugs, and immunosuppressants. Evidence from in vitro and animal research suggests that chaga extract can inhibit platelet aggregation, which means chaga might increase the risk of bleeding when used concomitantly with anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs. Some of these drugs include:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as:
- Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others)
- Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others)
- Dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox)
- Warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Evidence from animal research suggests that Chaga might decrease blood glucose levels and increase insulin levels, which means the concomitant use of Chaga with antidiabetes drugs might affect glucose control and increase the risk of hypoglycemia in some people. Dose adjustments to diabetes medication might be necessary. Some antidiabetes drugs include:
- Glimepiride (Amaryl)
- Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
- Metformin (Glucophage)
- Pioglitazone (Actos)
- Rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.
Lastly, evidence from in vitro research suggests that certain constituents of chaga stimulate immune function, which means chaga might interfere with immunosuppressive therapy. Immunosuppressant drugs include:
- Azathioprine (Imuran)
- Basiliximab (Simulect)
- Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
- Daclizumab (Zenapax)
- Muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3)
- Mycophenolate (CellCept)
- Tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf)
- Sirolimus (Rapamune)
- Prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)
- Corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)
Supplement and Food Interactions
Chaga may have interactions with anticoagulant/antiplatelet herbs and supplements, and herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic potential. Evidence from in vitro and animal research suggests that chaga extract can inhibit platelet aggregation, which means concomitant use of herbs and supplements that affect platelet aggregation could increase the risk of bleeding in some people. Some of these herbs and supplements include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, and others. Evidence from animal research also suggests that chaga might decrease blood glucose levels and increase insulin levels, which means chaga might have additive effects with herbs and supplements that decrease blood glucose levels. Herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic potential include alpha-lipoic acid, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, and Siberian ginseng.
There is insufficient reliable evidence available to determine a dosage for chaga.
For centuries, people in Russia and certain Asian countries have used chaga tea to balance the body's immune system, promote good health, and prevent cancer, therefore chaga can be found in some teas.