Many of the species of mushrooms existing in the world today defy logic. Some with their appearance, others through their taste and extraordinary health benefits. Used in ancient cultures for thousands of years, the Chaga mushroom is one variety that amazes those who take the time to study it.
Scientists are only scratching the surface with the research they conduct each day. With tens of thousands of varieties of fungus to study, the road ahead is still long.
Much more research is needed to understand all the incredible benefits consuming these mushrooms bring. 2,000 edible varieties are identified as non-toxic to humans, making them a simple and nutritious food.
The Chaga is quite unique because of its many health benefits and strange appearance. But to understand this mushroom, first learn to recognize it from afar, because this is one fungus that looks anything but.
How to recognize Chaga mushrooms
Mention mushrooms to anybody and the first image that pops in their mind is the popular button variety. It’s the universal symbol for an entire kingdom, the fungi numbering more than 50,000.
But the button mushroom is only a single species, used mainly in dishes around the world. Many other, even more popular varieties, fill the shopping baskets and pantry shelves of homes around the world.
One such variety is the Chaga, its unique appearance often the talking point of many who search for it. If you have ever walked through a bush-fire-ravaged forest a few months after the last fires have burnt out, then you’ll know exactly what to look for.
Chaga resembles the burnt remains of fire, appearing like charcoal clinging to the trees it grows on. Conk Trunk Rot, Cinder Conk, Clinker Polypore and Black Mass are other names for Chaga.
While its outer appearance is quite unique, the Chaga’s inner appearance is also misleading. More common mushrooms all share the trademark white flesh. But the Chaga mushroom shares very few characteristics with those of other common mushrooms.
The fungus is often mistaken for mold, its outer casing feeling similar to the touch. Removing the Chaga from its host tree reveals a golden-orange flesh that those who hunt for it, instantly recognize.
What health benefits are Chaga used for?
The Chaga is versatile with its many health benefits. It has a texture similar to cork, making it unsuitable for cooking or eating.
But while it may not be the tastiest snack, the Chaga mushroom health benefits more than makeup for that shortfall. To read a more in-depth article on the many incredible health benefits of Chaga mushrooms, check out this article.
To give you an idea of their healing properties, here are a few examples of Chaga mushroom benefits. Chaga mushrooms can boost your immune system, reduce cholesterol, fight certain cancers and lower blood pressure.
While researchers are still working hard to confirm a lot of the claims, the number of people who praise the Chaga mushroom’s effects on their conditions is reason enough not to discount it.
But with many manufacturers now selling multiple forms of Chaga, what happens to the people who have reactions? While some side effects might be minor, there are some that are known to be fatal. Research the products before buying them so you can avoid the harmful effects.
Available Forms of Chaga Mushrooms
If you have access to fresh Chaga mushrooms, then drying them is the best way to use the flesh. Once dried, you can crush the mushroom into a powder and store it. But not everyone has Chaga mushrooms growing in their backyard.
If you prefer to order your mushroom supplements online, numerous options are available to you.
- Dried mushroom chunks
- Chaga mushroom tea
- Chaga mushroom coffee
- Dried powder
- Chaga mushroom supplements
Each of the above products gives you extremely simple ways to enjoy the many health benefits of this incredible mushroom. Many of the products have specific instructions to follow and I suggest you read them before using.
One of my favorite ways to include Chaga mushrooms into my diet is my morning tea. Dunk a simple bag the same as normal tea and enjoy it in much the same way. Some of the Chaga mushroom tea benefits include boosting your immune system and lowering blood pressure.
But there can be a downside, Chaga mushroom tea side effects also known to occur. Check out some of the more specific side effects below.
While the supplements are simple to take, the Chaga mushroom powder is great to use in recipes for extra flavors. But please ensure you start with small amounts. Monitor any side effects from Chaga mushrooms which can come on suddenly.
The People Most Affected by Side Effects of Chaga Mushroom
There are a lot of different forms of Chaga mushroom available from online retailers. They don’t require a doctor’s prescription and that could be one of the biggest issues. The demand for these health benefits is growing daily, but with no regulation, the products are available to anybody.
It’s the unknown Chaga mushroom dangers you need to be aware of before trying the products for yourself. Certain ailments and conditions are more prone to Chaga mushroom side effects. The reactions in certain people can be life-threatening.
Nobody really understands all the Chaga mushroom health benefits and side effects. Most of the beliefs come from ancient studies, people’s own experiences and limited research from modern scientists.
But with the limited research available, the answers that scientists have discovered are the ones you need to consider.
Diabetics and anybody using insulin should consult their doctor before using Chaga mushroom products. Anyone with allergies to Birch trees should avoid Chaga mushroom products as the mushroom grows on this variety. Because of a lack of conclusive research, pregnant women and those actively breastfeeding should not use Chaga mushrooms. Patients planning surgery should not take Chaga for at least 2 weeks before the day.
If you are taking any medication, consult your health care professional before you use Chaga mushroom. Research has shown Chaga mushroom side effects to occur when mixed with other medicines. If you have never tried Chaga mushrooms before, do not start with full doses. Use partial doses so you can monitor any of the following effects for yourself. I also strongly urge you to never replace medication with mushroom supplements. Discuss the options with your doctor first and make sure it is safe to do so.
The Chaga Mushroom Side Effects
The Chaga mushroom side effects in the following examples mostly occur in certain types of people. The intensity of the side effects will vary from person to person. Monitor your own body after consuming Chaga mushroom products to make sure you don’t show any symptoms.
Side Effect #1: Chaga mushroom lowers blood sugar
Chaga mushroom products affect blood sugar levels and can interact negatively with the insulin used by diabetic sufferers. Using chaga mushrooms might also increase your chance of Hypoglycemia. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care.
- difficulty speaking
- feeling weak
If you are a diabetic and consider using a chaga mushroom supplement, I highly recommend you speak with your doctor first. Diabetes is not something to mess with and there is plenty of research to support the warnings.
Side Effect #2: Chaga mushroom can affect the kidneys
Anyone with a history of kidney disease shouldn’t use Chaga mushrooms. They contain oxalate which has been known to affect kidneys directly.
Oxalate is an anti-nutrient and interferes with the body’s absorption of other nutrients and also binds with calcium to form kidney stones.
Some people who use large amounts of Chaga are at risk of kidney failure as a result of the mushroom’s side-effects. Always start a new supplement in small quantities and if you sense any ill effects, seek medical advice.
Side Effect #3: Chaga mushroom interferes with blood clotting
Those using blood thinners, or anticoagulants, are at risk of interference from Chaga. You need to stop using the supplements at least 2 weeks before surgery to make sure there are no traces of Chaga mushroom left in your system.
Side Effect #4: Chaga mushroom has not been proven safe for pregnancy
Pregnant women and those breastfeeding should reconsider using Chaga mushroom. The side effects the fungus can create are too serious to ignore. With very little research to confirm its usability during pregnancy, I’d suggest avoiding it.
Side Effect #5: Chaga mushroom can affect auto-immune diseases
Auto-immune diseases can either cause over-active or under-active immune systems. While an over-active immune system causes the body to attack itself, under-activity reduces the body’s ability to fight diseases.
Chaga mushrooms may increase the activity of an immune system and this could have detrimental effects on someone already with an over-active immune system. For sufferers of multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, avoid using Chaga mushrooms.
Side Effect #6: Chaga mushroom can affect other medications
Chaga mushrooms react to certain medications. The only safe way to be sure whether your medication is safe to use with Chaga mushrooms is to speak to your doctor. They will check the database and compare the possible interactions.
Some of the side effects include nosebleeds, itchiness, sore throat, dry mouth, upset stomach and blood in your stools. If you feel any of these symptoms after consuming Chaga mushrooms, seek immediate medical help.
How to Reduce the Risks of Chaga Mushroom Side Effects
There are some simple steps to avoid Chaga mushroom side effects. Many of the products available online are not regulated, supplied by manufacturers from all over the world.
While my own preferred option for dried mushrooms is always to create the product myself, sometimes that isn’t possible. I don’t always find all mushrooms close to my home so ordering products sometimes is the only option.
If, like me, you order products online, always know who you are ordering the products from. Whilst not all manufacturers employ shady practices, unfortunately, a small minority do. One negative practice that can be potentially harmful to you is the way Chaga mushrooms are prepared.
Soaking the mushrooms in water for extended periods to increase the water levels in the mushroom. This increases the overall weight and the manufacturer can charge more for them.
By leaving the mushroom suspended in water for long periods, harmful bacteria can form, which end up in your system.
Always research the company you intend to purchase products from. Look at online reviews if possible and investigate the history of the company as well as where they obtain their products from.
Spending a few minutes investigating your purchase online can save you a lot of time down the track. Never mix herbal supplements with each other unless under advisement.
Use the products in moderation to reduce the risks of harmful side effects. Using Chaga mushrooms for long periods can have serious consequences for your health.
Protect yourself and use the products wisely. Always read the instruction label and use recommended dosages unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
The Chaga mushroom side effects that you can avoid by following simple common sense may save you from serious consequences. The benefits might seem to be quite significant, but none of them compare to the damage the mushroom could cause if abused.
Monitor Any Effects That You Experience
If you feel side effects, always seek medical advice. Keep a written log if possible, noting all symptoms, effects, and duration. The more information you give to your doctor, the more they will be able to help you in the long run.
Researchers also benefit from any side effects you experience, as an in-depth interaction and side-effect’s data log continues to grow. The side effects of Chaga mushroom are important for future generations.
Researchers may one day develop medicines that deliver all the amazing healing qualities of Chaga mushrooms without the nasty side effects.
Whether it’s an increased heart rate, nose bleed or an upset stomach, your own reactions to this mushroom’s effects can help future development. We all need to work together on pooling the information so scientists can better understand this important mushroom.
Why Research is So Important
While Chaga mushrooms may not be the ultimate answer in medicines, they offer hope to a lot more people than you realize. The data brought together and developed into further medicines is an important step in reducing the effects of other, more common medication with harmful side effects.
Chaga mushroom contains certain properties that help with fighting some forms of cancer. While they may not end the war against such a destructive disease, the medications developed from such research may lead to some positive side effects.
Imagine cancer patients not needing radiation treatments or chemotherapy because scientists discovered a certain compound in Chaga mushrooms that provided the same relief.
It would mean millions of sufferers would no longer be susceptible to the effects of the deadly treatments, instead able to use a natural remedy to ease their symptoms. It’s a dream many researchers hope for and with more study, it may eventually become a reality.
While Chaga mushrooms also affect blood sugar levels, imagine a world where diabetic sufferers no longer need to depend on daily insulin injections.
With more research conducted every day towards totally understanding all the benefits from mushrooms, the hopes and dreams of millions rest in the hands of the scientists.
Auto-immune diseases ravage the lives of millions of people every day, unable to live normal lives because of their conditions.
With Chaga already affecting the immune system, imagine the one piece of information needed to cure the diseases with a simple herbal supplement. The possibilities are endless and so are the hopes.
Chaga mushrooms are no doubt, one of the real mysteries of the mushroom world. While many of the side effects they cause are not what you might hope for, there are ways in which to avoid them completely.
Proper planning and effective monitoring are needed when first starting to use the supplements. Researching the suppliers themselves will reveal the quality of their products and can help you decide whether they will be a suitable supplier for you.
The side effects that you have just read about are not meant to frighten you away from the mushroom. In fact, its purpose is the exact opposite, to open your eyes to the amazing possibilities.
But just as seafood can be fatal to some, it’s a wonderful taste sensation for others. We aren’t all the same and that gives you the real opportunity to make a difference in your life.
But after reading the article, I think it’s safe to say that although there are some bad Chaga mushroom side effects, there are also definitely good side effects that scientists can use for further research. Let’s hope the miracle cure so many of us hope for, will one day become a reality.