Chaga, otherwise known as Inonotus obliquus, is a mushroom traditionally used in Russian and Eastern European medicine.
Because the mushroom has antiviral, antioxidant and anti-tumour properties, chaga is used to treat a variety of ailments such as cancer, ulcers, tuberculosis and gastritis. Recent research has found that chaga can also help treat psoriasis, hypertension and diabetes.
In a study done at Konkuk University in South Korea, researchers looked at the anti-inflammatory effects of chaga in the large intestine to see if the mushroom could be an efficient treatment for disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. Se Young Choi, et al., induced colitis in male mice by administering dextran sodium sulfate.
The effect of chaga on inflammatory colitis
Twenty-eight mice were split into four groups: one fed a regular, control diet; another group fed a control diet but with colitis; third group was given a chaga diet; and a fourth group was given a chaga diet and induced colitis.
the trial, the researchers conducted cell analysis on the mice, along with physical evaluations. They found that the level of serum immunoglobulin E (IgE), a type of antibody that is important in immune defense of parasites, decreased in the groups given chaga compared to the ones given a control diet. Levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha, a cytokine that regulates immune cells, were also lower in the colitis group given chaga than a control diet.
Because the suppression of tumour necrosis factor alpha is a form of treatment for those with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers believe that chaga can be a beneficial form of therapy for inflammation of the intestines.
According to Choi, et al., the mechanism behind chaga’s ability to alleviate inflammations may be due to the mushroom’s shared pathways with inflammatory cytokines. Based on their results, the researchers believe the potential for chaga as an anti-inflammatory treatment is high, but additional studies on human participants have to be conducted.
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