How to grow Lion’s Mane mushroom: a step by step guide

How to grow Lion’s Mane mushroom: a step by step guide

Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a mushroom species with a long history of medicinal and culinary use throughout Asia.

This medicinal superfood is well known for its neuroprotective health benefits, reported to improve focus, cognition, memory, and sleep.

Studies also suggest that Lion’s Mane can help protect our brains from age-related damage and dementia and lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

With all these incredible benefits, it’s no wonder you’re interested in learning how to grow this mushroom at home.

Stick with us as we explore everything you need to know about growing Lion’s Mane in six easy steps.

grow-lions-mane-mushrooms How to grow Lion's Mane mushroom: a step by step guide

What you need to grow Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane is a relatively easy and fast-growing mushroom, making it a popular choice for beginners.

However, it does require patience and the upfront investment to purchase all the necessary equipment and ingredients.

Because Lion’s Mane mushrooms naturally inhabit the dead or decaying hardwood of walnut, beech, sycamore or maple trees you’ll need to find an appropriate alternative for the fruiting body to develop on, there are a few different options to do this.

While you can attempt log inoculation by utilising a dead piece of timber and inoculating with spores, a much easier alternative is using fruiting blocks which are a growing medium made from hardwood pellets or chips and grain mixed together.

Alternatively, some businesses sell pre-prepared grow kits that come with everything you need to get started growing mushrooms.

Cultivating Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be a fun project, but the easiest and fastest way to access is the medicinal benefits of Lion’s Mane in Australia is through a liquid extract which is highly bioavailable meaning the beneficial compounds are readily absorbed.

Required Materials:

  • Lion’s Mane grain spawn
  • Hardwood fuel pellets or hardwood sawdust
  • Grain 
  • Water
  • Growing bags (a specialised type of plastic bag)

Equipment:

  • Measuring cup
  • Scales
  • Bucket or bowl
  • Pressure cooker
  • Spray bottle
  • Scalpel or sharp knife
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Plastic crate
  • Zip-ties

Best Types of Substrate

Lion’s Mane grows well on hardwood fuel chips or pellets that have been supplemented with grain.

The best type of grain to use is either rye, wheat, or soy hulls. Grains act as a superfood for the spawn and helps to rev up the growth of the fruiting body.

However, it’s important to carefully observe the grain spawn to ensure full colonisationg before the the mushroom starts to produce its fruiting body.

Fruiting containers or bags

You can use a large filter patch growing bag and then add in your substrate.
Filter patch bags are great for sterilising the substrate to produce grain spawn or fruiting blocks successfully, and also help to create a moist location for the fruiting body develop in.

Where to purchase materials

The best place to purchase hardwood chips is at your local nursery or hardware store. You can even check your local BBQ retailer as these are commonly used as BBQ fuel as well.

Make sure you don’t purchase softwood chips, as mushrooms won’t grow well on this substrate.

Lion’s Mane spawn, grow bags, and even nitrogen-rich grains can be purchased at online stores that specialise in mushroom cultivation.

growing-lions-mane-mushrooms How to grow Lion's Mane mushroom: a step by step guide

How to grow Lion’s Mane mushroom in 6 Steps

Step 1: Prepare your fruiting blocks

Measure your ingredients

For each grow bag, you’ll need:

  • 450gm of hardwood pellets
  • 450gm of grain of choice, as mentioned above
  • 1.4 litres of water

Combine ingredients

Place your dry ingredients in a large container, ready for mixing. Then add in the correct amount of water and mix well until the pellets and grain have broken down into a loose mixture.

You can use cold or warm water to do this. Sometimes warm water helps to break down the pellets a little faster.

If you would like to add extra nutrition to the mix, you can increase the amount of grain in the mixture.

Pack your grow bags to make a fruiting block

Add the grain and woodchip substrate mixture into your filter patch grow bags, only adding the amount indicated in the above ingredients section.

Once the mixture has been added to the bag, you’ll need to fold it down correctly as per the grow bag instructions. When folded correctly, these bags become self-sealing when under pressure.

The tops of the grow bags are gusseted, and a filter fits in between these gussets. This helps to prevent any contamination during cooldown after removal from the pressure cooker.

Step 2: Sterilise your fruiting block

Sterilising your fruiting block is a crucial step as it eliminates any microbes that may threaten the successful growth of the Lion’s Mane.

While grow bags are designed to withstand high temperatures, it’s still essential to ensure there’s something between the bottom of the pressure cooker and the grow bags to avoid any possibility of the bags burning.

A good option is adding the metal lids from glass jars or even a tea towel.

Then add your grow bags into the pressure cooker and add enough water to sit just below the filter patch on the first bag in the pot.

You can also add a dinner plate to the top of the grow bag to stop it from moving around during the sterilisation process.

The grow bags and substrate should be sterilised on low to medium heat for about 2.5 hours to remove any contaminants. Care should also be taken to avoid excessive temperatures.

After 2.5 hours, turn off the stove and allow the grow bags to cool down for at least eight hours. The bags can then be removed from the pressure cooker and are ready to innoculate.

Step 3: Innoculate with Lion’s Main grain spawn

Grain spawn is made from sterilised grains that have been inoculated with a live Lion’s Mane mycelium culture.

Grain spawn provides a lot of energy and nutrition for the mycelium and assists the growing process.

Add approximately 200gm of Lion’s Mane grain spawn into the fruiting block and then immediately seal the bag with a zip tie or rubber band.

When adding the grain spawn into the fruiting block, it’s important to follow proper sanitation protocols to avoid contamination.

Only items sanitised with either alcohol or a flame should touch the substrate in the fruiting block. Wearing a mask during this process is also recommended.

Step 4: Colonisation of the fruiting block

The fruiting block should be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 14-21 days to allow for total colonisation of the Lion’s Mane mycelium in the fruiting block.

It can be tricky to tell when Lion’s Mane has fully colonised the fruiting block as its mycelium is very fine compared to other mushrooms.

When the fruiting block has become fully colonised, it will feel slightly firmer, and you may notice a white ‘mouldy’ appearance.

There’s no benefit to shaking the bag during this process. It’s best to leave it alone to do its thing. If the bag looks contaminated, there’s no point opening it to try and rescue it and should be thrown away.

Step 5: Fruiting Lion’s Mane

The first step to encourage your fruiting block to produce fruit is to use a sterilised knife or scissors and make a cut at the top of the bag.

Then you’ll need to squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag and fold it down on itself and wrap tightly around the hard block. This helps to promote fruit growth outside of the bag instead of inside the bag.

The biggest contributors to successful fruiting is a fresh air exchange which reduces the amount of CO2 and an increases fresh air and oxygen.

Once you’ve folded your fruiting block bag tightly, you then need to store it in a fruiting chamber.

You can make your fruiting chamber using a plastic create and drilling holes in the lid to allow oxygen to enter. Additionally, it’s a good idea to mist down the crate’s walls with water twice daily which will create a warm and humid micro-climate within the crate, which are the perfect growing conditions Lion’s Mane.

The alternative option is to purchase a shotgun fruiting chamber from an online supplier.

Step 6: Harvest your Lion’s Mane

All your hard work and patience pays off when it’s time to harvest and enjoy the many medicinal benefits of Lion’s Mane.

The mushroom usually reaches full maturity within 2 – 3 weeks. Still, you can harvest it whenever you’re happy with the size it has grown to, it’s personal preference, but younger Lion’s Mane mushrooms tend to have a firmer texture.

The best way to harvest the Lion’s Mane is to cut the mushroom off at the stem while trying not to damage the fruiting block as it can go on to produce more mushrooms.

Final thoughts on growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms

Growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be a fun and rewarding experience, and with the reported medicinal properties can make a great dietary supplement to help achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

The benefits, dosage and side effects of Lion’s Mane have been the subject of rekindled scientific interest, with researchers identifying its positive therapeutic effects for degenerative brain disease symptoms, ability to improve nerve growth in people suffering from nerve damage, potent anti-tumour compounds

FAQS

What temperature is best for growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms?

Growing Lion’s Mane mushroom requires a temperature between 18° – 21° C and humidity of at least 85%.
Lion’s Mane mushroom does have a wide temperature tolerance but grows best in a humid environment.

Where do Lion’s Mane grow?

Lion’s mane mushrooms can be found growing throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Lion’s manes usually grow towards the end of summer and into autumn, they thrive in a humid and temperate climate.
Lion’s mane mushrooms grow on dead and decaying trees but may also be found on living trees.

 

Is it hard growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms?

Lion’s Mane isn’t the hardest medicinal mushroom to grow, but it can still pose a few challenges for newbies.
Following all the proper steps and processes to avoid contamination is really important, and ensuring the fruiting blocks are in the right environment is critical to success.
While it may be rewarding to grow your own mushrooms at home, a much easier and more cost-effective option is to consume a tincture to gain the medicinal properties of this fungus.

How do you eat fresh Lion’s Mane?

Lion’s Mane is an extremely versatile fungus that can be eaten as a food, similar to other gourmet mushrooms such as shiitake, enoki and oyster mushrooms.
The fruiting body of the mushroom has a mild flavour and a firm, spongy texture and can be eaten raw, cooked or steeped in hot water to make a tea.
Some people mention that it has a subtle seafood flavour, and makes a great meat alternative in recipes. This gourmet mushroom is a nutritional powerhouse, however, it may be tricky to find at your local grocery store.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Health Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Health Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of lions Mane Mushroom, its positive effects on brain health, its ability to enhance cognition and upregulate the immune system. But maybe you’re a bit hesitant. I mean, how can a humble, weird-looking mushroom have so many health benefits? That’s where we come in: fear not, it’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years! Welcome to the powerful world of medicinal mushrooms!

What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s Mane mushrooms or Hericium Erinaceus are interesting looking specimens. They are a white, shaggy mushroom and bear a striking resemblance to the mane of a lion as they mature. Hence the name ‘lions mane.’ Some even refer to it as the ‘hedgehog mushroom!’ Lion’s Mane is very versatile, both used for its culinary and medicinal properties. In terms of the latter, Lion’s mane contains many bioactive properties beneficial for the brain, gut and body. In this article, we go through the benefits of lion’s mane mushroom, ways to consume, best methods for Bio-availability, dosage and potential side effects.

lions-mane-mushroom-1024x682 Lion's Mane Mushroom Health Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

Lion’s mane mushroom benefits

Brain Health

Our brains are complex specimens. It’s responsible for the highest energy consumption out of all organs. It is the driving force behind all of our decisions and thought processes, so you want to give those brain cells as much help as possible, naturally, of course! Enter Lion’s Mane extract.

One of the most useful properties of the lion’s mane mushrooms is their nootropic effect. That is, its capacity to enhance cognition and memory. The primary way Lion’s Mane mushroom does this is by stimulating Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and remyelination of nerve sheaths.

According to this 2013 study the Hericenones and erinacines found in lion’s mane mushrooms can enhance NGF synthesis in nerve cells. It ultimately led to a 60.6% increase in neurite outgrowth. This is a fancy way of saying that lion’s mane mushroom promotes nerve regeneration in your brain!

Lion’s mane, the brain and ageing

Supplementing lion’s mane mushroom is also a great idea as we get older. One common aspect of ageing is that our nerves and axons begin to slow and cannot conduct an impulse as quickly. This is the beginning of mild cognitive impairment (and can lead to Alzheimer’s). Enter Lion’s mane and its ability for neurogenesis, reduction of Neuroinflammation and optimisation of brain health.

This 2009 Japanese study took a group of 50-80-year-old men and ran a double-blind placebo study where half-consumed lion’s mane (or, as they say in Japan: ‘mushroom yamabushitak’e) and half took a placebo. After 16 weeks, the control group showed significant improvement in cognitive function. There are a plethora of studies like this, showing Lion’s Mane medicinal mushrooms are able to slow down and even reverse cognitive impairment.

Suitable for young and old

It’s also perfect for young folks due to its capacity to stimulate NGF, brain-derived nootropic factors, and, ultimately, cognitive function. Customers have reported a state similar to flow after taking Lion’s Mane, which can last anywhere from four to six hours. This is incredibly encouraging in a world where teenagers turn to artificial stimulants like Adderall to help get them through study blocks. Why not supplement with lion’s mane mushroom and reap all its associated health benefits instead!

Antioxidant

Li0n’s mane contains antioxidant properties that give it the ability to help scavenge free radicals. Those nasty little critters are a result of our modern lifestyles. While studies are still ongoing, there are signs lion’s mane properties could extend to neuroprotective benefits and potentially help counteract tissue damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body. This is good news for ageing as oxidative stress is one of the leading causes of premature ageing.

Lion’s Mane and The Body

Lion’s Mane mushroom benefits also extend to their adaptogenic properties. This means they help the body deal with physical and emotional stress. Or, more simply, they give the body what it needs when it needs it. (This is why lion’s mane is also referred to as a ‘smart mushroom’).

So while Lion’s Mane mushroom extract can have an uplifting effect on cognition, amazingly, it can also help you sleep. We are avid biohackers and track our sleep with various biofeedback devices through our mushroom research centre. After taking Lions Mane extract before bed, we’ve found that it increases our REM sleep by around 50%, which means our ability for lucid dreaming is also enhanced. It’s through this relentless biofeedback, we’ve developed the perfect sleep stack by combining Lion’s Mane extract with other calming adaptogens in our Sleep and Zen stacks. It’s no wonder our sleep stack is one of our biggest sellers as it leaves you feeling refreshed and re-energised on waking. You can find it here

Need an Energy Boost?

Research has shown Lion’s Mane supplements contains anti-fatigue and energy-increasing properties. Combine this with its ability to reduce inflammation and recovery time, and you have the perfect natural pre-workout supplement. Studies have also shown that lion’s mane mushroom extract helps with fat metabolism, ideal for endurance athletes.

Lion’s mane and fat metabolism

Another study showed that mice who were given lions mane extract while on a high-fat diet showed an increase in lipid metabolism and reduced weight gain. This suggests that lion’s mane could potentially improve fat metabolism.

Lion’s mane mushroom benefits extend to physical performance, fat burning and inflammation, Lion’s mane extract must is a must for those looking to increase athletic performance. This is why we’ve included Lions Mane in our Performance, Energy and Yoga stacks. When combined with other uplifting adaptogens and Byron Bay grown medicinal mushrooms, the result is a synergistic blend that will make you unstoppable!

The Gut

The natural antibacterial properties in Lion’s Mane extract help protect the gut against harmful bacteria and, ultimately, gastric ulcers. While research is still in its infancy, there is evidence that Lion’s Mane mushroom helps protect the stomach lining from harmful substances and may even help treat ulcerative colitis, chron’s disease, and leaky gut syndrome.

This 2013 study evidenced lion’s mane gastroprotective ability. This positive impact on the gastrointestinal system will also help boost immunity. That’s why we’ve included our Lion’s Mane mushroom extract in both our Immunity and Gut stacks.

The Immune System

When it comes to immunity, most people think of Chaga and Turkey tail. But Lion’s Mane is up there with its ability to boost the immune system. This 2017 study showed the Immunomodulatory effects of the polysaccharides contained in lion’s mane mushroom, which are then mediated by intestinal immunology. That’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? In other words, it improves the immune function of your gut through the intestine.

Lion’s mane also contains beta-glucans, a prebiotic fibre. This is another compound that’s amazing for your gut. They also help modulate your immune system, which means it responds appropriately to a pathogen rather than over-reacting. That’s where the problems start.

Bonus!

So while most people take lion’s mane mushroom extract to enhance cognition, it also comes with the added benefit of making your immune system stronger! You can why we think these medicinal mushrooms have the potential to change the world!

Lions Mane supplements and Bioavailability

Most of the worlds medicinal mushroom supply come from China and is in powder form. The unscrupulous purchase it for as little as twenty dollars pet kilo, repackage it and sell for up to $800 per kilo in Australia! Lion’s mane powder is one of the least bioavailable ways to consume this mushroom. The cell walls of Lion’s Mane mushrooms and mycelium are composed of an indigestible fibre called “chitin.” Hot water extraction is the only research-validated process for breaking the active compounds out into a bioavailable form. We take it one step further and go for a month-long dual-extraction process.

Lions Mane Dosage

We get constant feedback that our lion’s mane supplement is the most potent on the market. It doesn’t taste watery like some other lion’s mane supplements out there. It also takes away the need to eat a bunch of lion’s mane culinary mushrooms to receive the same amount of health benefits!

The optimal way to consume our lion’s mane is to drop twenty drops under the tongue and hold it there for a minute before swallowing. The receptors under our tongues open up when in contact with alcohol, so it heads straight into your system. That’s what we mean when we say optimal Bioavailability. A significant benefit of our lion’s mane dual-extract is your ability to mix it into your favourite beverage: coffee, smoothie, and some even use it in cocktails for a bit of extra zing! The beauty of lion’s mane mushroom is that it can be consumed at any time of the day.

Lions Mane Side Effects

Animal research studies have shown lion’s mane mushroom to be extremely safe even at high doses. The main concern with lion’s mane mushrooms is if you are allergic to them. So as with any new supplement, either talk to your doctor or start with a tiny dose of lion’s mane and see how you feel. So far, we have thousands of happy customers with no adverse effects, so the risks are extremely low!

Studies have also shown lion’s mane to be non-addictive; so rest assured that despite all the fantastic positive benefits of lion’s mane, you’re consuming something very safe. We take our product seriously with the utmost attention paid to a sterile, safe environment!

Shroomunity’s Lion’s Mane

Unlike most other mushroom companies who import powder from China, we grow our own Lion’s mane mushroom in the pristine hinterland of Byron Bay, Australia. Our strain originates from a wild-foraged culture native to Byron Bay. So you can rest assured we have the optimal growing conditions to ensure an optimal product. After harvesting and dehydrating, the mushroom is reduced to around a tenth of its original size, ensuring maximum potency. It then undergoes a month-long, dual-extraction process to result in the most available bio available, ultimate strength extract. Whether it’s enhanced cognition, increased gut health and immunity or achieving higher levels of athletic performance, you’ll find Lion’s Mane mushroom contains many beneficial properties to help with a broad spectrum of desired states

Want to try growing your own lions mane, read this guide.

Our Lion’s Mane products

We offer lion’s mane extract straight up. We also include Lion’s Mane mushroom extract in a few of our stacks designed to up-regulate cognitive function, including our ever-popular Neuro Stack

When combined with other Nootropic enhancers like Cordyceps, Rhodiola and mucuna pruriens, it will have your brain firing on all cylinders. We get the most common feedback: “I didn’t know how powerful this was until I stopped using it!” It’s the perfect substitute for the short term, the jittery effect of caffeine. So, instead of that morning coffee, try out lion’s mane extract and light up your brain with Lions Mane!

Our Lion’s Mane extract is available at select outlets in Byron bay or online through Shroomunity.com.

We don’t take the easy option

It would be easy to sell lion’s mane mushroom powder, but we’re not here for the easy road. Our goal was to make THE most bioavailable, potent and powerful product possible. Our month-long dual-extraction process removes ‘chitin’. It unlocks all the mushroom’s bioactive compounds, powerful anti-inflammatory agents, brain-derived neurotrophic factors and other compounds to help improve brain function, fight cancer cells, upregulate cognitive health, reduce oxidative stress, boost your immune system and help fight neurodegenerative diseases- just to name a few! Studies have shown this dual-extraction process is the optimal way to unlock lion’s mane mushroom benefits.

You won’t find better

We initially created our Lion’s Mane extract for us, as we couldn’t find a product strong enough. As word spread among family and friends, demand got out of control, and we decided to create Shroomunity. We’re so confident we have the best Australian grown and made product on the market that we offer a full money-back guarantee. Feel the effects, or we’ll happily refund your purchase.

Mush Love – The Shroomunity Team

Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Cordyceps sinensis is just one of many medicinal mushrooms that has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese medicine, prized for its immune-nourishing and adaptogenic benefits.

Cordyceps is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in polysaccharides, amino acids, antioxidants and minerals and vitamins such as B1, B2, B12 and K.

Cordyceps mushroom extract supports overall stamina and endurance, modulates immune system function, promotes good endocrine health and is a powerful adaptogenic adrenal-supporter that can assist in a healthy stress response.

There’s a lot of hype around this fascinating species of fungi, so what are cordyceps good for and how can it improve your health? Let’s dive into the science behind some of the biggest health claims, and also break down exactly what cordyceps is and how it’s used.

What is Cordyceps mushroom?

Cordyceps is a genus of fungi that has around 600 different known species, the two most commonly studied and consumed within the medicinal mushroom world are cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris.

Cordyceps has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prized for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Cordyceps’ traditional Chinese name is Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo which literally translates to “winter insect, summer herb”, this translation gives us a little insight into how this parasitic fungus grows.

Cordyceps sinensis grows parasitically on living insect hosts such as caterpillars and ants, which explains why it’s colloquially known as the ‘caterpillar fungus’.

The cordyceps spores germinate in the insect’s body and eventually, the mycelium (root system) take over the hosts body and brain, and like something out of a horror movie, the fruiting body of the mushroom erupts from the insects head growing into a long finger-like fungus.

However, it’s not just moth larvae that are at risk of infection, according to renowned natural historian and writer, David Attenborough each species of cordyceps have a favourite insect host.

“There are literally thousands of different types of cordyceps fungi and, remarkably, each specialises in just one species [of insect]”

This is just one of the many reasons why traditionally harvested cordyceps is so expensive and inaccessible. Nowadays, many Cordyceps supplements are cultivated on a non-insect substrate leading to high levels of quality control and better affordability.

Despite the fact that commercially cultivated Cordyceps is grown on a non-insect host, the HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography) analysis has demonstrated very similar chemical profiles meaning it’s just as powerful and effective as wild-grown mushrooms.

Cordyceps-on-jar Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Cordyceps Sinensis vs Cordyceps Militaris: What’s the difference?

The most well-known species of cordyceps is called cordyceps sinensis which is the species that grows above 3,500 metres on the Tibetan Plateau in Southwest China and Himalayan regions of Nepal and Bhutan.

Due to the growing popularity of wild cordyceps sinensis and the limited availability, the price has sky-rocketed up to $20,000 per kilo making it one of the most expensive medicinal mushrooms on the market.

Given the lack of availability and huge price tag, scientists have developed alternative cultivation methods to ensure a more affordable and sustainable option is available.

The two main alternatives to wild-harvested cordyceps sinensis are known as CS-4 and cordyceps militaris.

So, what’s the difference between all these compounds?

 

Cordyceps CS-4

Due to the high price tag of wild Cordyceps sinensis, scientists have developed a method to cultivate the fungus in a liquid solution of nutrients. This method only produces the mycelium (root system) and not the fruiting body of the mushroom.

CS-4 has been studied extensively and found to produce similar results to cordyceps sinensis, and additionally, the CS-4 compound has undergone clinical trials in China and has been approved for use in TCM hospitals.

Cordyceps Militaris

Cordyceps Militaris is a species of mushroom that can be successfully cultivated in commercial quantities. Unlike CS-4 it grows the fruiting body and has been found to be high in beneficial compounds such as cordycepin.

Top 8 cordyceps mushroom (benefits backed by science)

Enhances Athletic Performance

Cordyceps is a powerful energy-enhancing tonic herb that may help the body absorb and utilise oxygen during exercise and also decrease exercise-related fatigue through a number of mechanisms.

Cordyceps was put in the spotlight back in 1993 when the Chinese Olympic women’s running team broke three world records at the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Germany. While rumours of drug use amongst the team began to spread, coach Ma Junren pointed to Cordyceps as the miracle supplement providing his team with the winning edge.

While year’s later the coach’s ethics were called into question and he was fired, more recent studies still support the theory that cordyceps is a powerful performance-enhancing supplement.

So, how can this unique fungus improve your exercise endurance and performance?

exercise Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Increases VO₂ Max

VO₂ Max refers to how much oxygen your body absorbs and uses during physical activity.

A 2016 study noted that daily cordyceps militaris supplementation increased VO₂ max in young adults after a three week period, therefore offering the potential to improve tolerance to high-intensity exercise [1].

In another study, researchers tested the effects of cordyceps on a group of healthy older adults. Participants of the study were either given a 3mg dosage of a synthetic strain of Cordyceps called CS-4, or a placebo.

After six weeks, participants who were given the CS-4 supplement showed a 7% increase in VO₂ Max, and participants who received the placebo showed no change.

Boosts ATP Production

Mitochondria are often called the energy powerhouse of the cells and provide up to 90% of the fuel our bodies use on a daily basis.

Studies show that Cordyceps has a unique ability to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is a form of cellular energy produced by our mitochondria .

ATP is a signalling molecule that facilitates a range of physiological functions within the body but importantly it plays a crucial role in delivering oxygen to our muscles during exercise.

Researchers have found ATP assists with improving muscular endurance during lengthy strength-training sets. This finding indicates that ATP may speed up recovery and increase blood flow during exercise.

Anti-Ageing Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Anti- Ageing

Cordyceps has been used in traditional herbal medicine as a remedy for the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

Cordyceps is rich in antioxidants which can help slow the aging process and also repair cell damage caused by excessive free radicals. If not kept in check free radicals can contribute to accelerated aging and disease.

A 2011 study examined the effects of CS-4 on the lifespan and age-related gene expression in rodents. Mice that were given the CS-4 supplement lived longer and had a reduced risk of death, and also many age-related changes were reversed [4].

“Studies with CS-4 in healthy elderly subjects showed significant increases in oxygen uptake, aerobic capacity and resistance to fatigue…[cordyceps] is also able to improve brain function and antioxidative enzyme activity (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase), which, together with its beneficial effect on cardiovascular function, makes it an excellent supplement for the elderly” – Martin Powell, Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide

Diabetes

Similar to other medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps has traditionally been used as a treatment for diabetes due to its ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting glucose from the blood into cells, if your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t utilise insulin correctly it leads to higher blood sugar levels that can contribute to diabetes.

Cordyceps has the unique ability to mimic the action of insulin which helps to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.

In several animal studies, diabetic mice were supplemented with Cordyceps and results demonstrated reduced blood sugar levels.

In one randomised trial 95% of participants treated with 3g of Cordyceps mycelial biomass per day saw improvements in their blood sugar levels compared with 54% treated by other methods.

Blood Pressure & Heart health

Cordyceps mushrooms are currently an approved herbal medicine in China for the treatment of arrhythmias, a condition where the heartbeats are irregular or beat too slowly or quickly.

The research shows that cordyceps has the ability to correct cardiac arrhythmias and lower blood pressure, it achieves these benefits through the presence of adenosine and related adenosine-type nucleotides and nucleosides, which have a pervasive positive effect on coronary circulation [7].

Adenosine works to reduce the release of mediators through receptors that relax the smooth muscle walls of airways and arteries, therefore, increasing access to oxygen.

A 1995 study investigated the effects of Cordyceps extract on 34 patients suffering chronic heart failure, using echocardiography (ECG) to compare the cardiac output with a control group of 30 patients who had received conventional treatment. Patients who received the Cordyceps extract showed that cardiac output increased by 60% and compared to only 25% in the control group.

Animal studies have also demonstrated that Cordyceps supplementation can help to lower LDL cholesterol. LDL is considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol and can increase the risk of heart attack by building up high levels of cholesterol in arteries.

Cancer

Because of its combination of immune-modulating polysaccharides, many health practitioner’s consider cordyceps to be one of the most useful medicinal mushrooms for improving treatment outcomes in cancer patients, including colorectal, bladder, leukaemia, melanoma, multiple myeloma, breast and prostate cancers.

Along with polysaccharides, cordyceps also contains cordycepin which is a derivative of adenosine and is reported to induce apoptosis (cancer cell death) in multiple cancer cells

Anti-Viral

Cordycepin also demonstrates the ability to halt viral replication making this a novel antiviral supplement. Additionally, the polysaccharides present in the fungus help to modulate the immune response to viral infections.

This two-pronged approach to viral infections makes cordyceps a powerful ally the next time you’re feeling run down and in need of some immune support.

Liver Health

Cordyceps is also hepatoprotective which means it helps to prevent liver damage.

Multiple studies have demonstrated cordyceps’ ability to inhibit liver fibrosis and help further restore optimal function to the organ.

In another clinical study, researchers administered 3g of cordyceps per day to treat alcohol-induced fatty liver disease. After a 90 day period, 14 patients showed marked reductions in liver enzymes.

Kidney Health

Cordyceps also has a long history of use in treating kidney disorders, and more recent research is now backing up this ancient knowledge and helping us to better understand how and why cordyceps is so beneficial for our kidneys.

Firstly, cordyceps ability to lower blood glucose levels while simultaneously providing high levels of antioxidants help to protect the liver from damage that occurs from blood sugar dysregulation.

Large scale studies conducted in diabetic kidney disease patients have shown that when Cordyceps is administered alongside other medications, kidney function improves, blood pressure decreases, and cholesterol levels improve.

cordyceps-sinensis Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Consuming Cordyceps: dosage, safety and side effects

How to take Cordyceps & dosage

The easiest way to take advantage of the benefits of cordyceps is to add the supplement into a beverage and consume it. A liquid tincture is even more convenient as it can easily be taken on the go without the need to mix it with a smoothie or tea. Chaga alcohol extracts are highly bioavailable and readily absorbed.

A typical dosage starts anywhere between 1-3gm per day or the equivalent dosage in a liquid tincture, however, this does depend on the type of supplement and overall strength.

Higher doses have been linked to better immune support, however, may not be right for everyone.

Is Cordyceps safe?

In TCM, Cordyceps extracts are considered to be one of the best tonic herbs, balancing and strengthening the body’s internal systems.

Cordyceps is a well tolerated herb, however, if you are taking prescription medications it’s important to check in with your health care practitioner to ensure there are no contraindications.

In TCM Cordyceps is contraindicated for acute fever or flu, and in western medicine, it may interact with anticoagulants, hormone replacement medications and immunosuppressants.

What are the side effects of cordyceps?

Side effects are rare but possible, users may experience gastrointestinal upset including nausea or constipation and discomfort if taken in large doses. This may be mitigated by consuming after a meal.

Cordyceps may also interfere with blood clotting, so if you have a blood clotting disorder you should discuss supplementation with a trained practitioner.

FAQS

What does Cordyceps taste like?

Cordyceps has a somewhat stronger flavour profile than other medicinal mushrooms and has been described as having a savoury umami flavour that is slightly earthy or nutty.

Can you take Cordyceps every day?

In TCM Cordyceps extracts are thought to tonify both the Yin and Yang energy making them ideal for long term use.
You can take Cordyceps on a daily basis to optimise cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory and hormonal health.
There is limited research on any long-term health implications, however, human research indicates that 1-3gm per day is not associated with any side effects.

Is Cordyceps a stimulant?

Cordyceps is popular due to its ability to enhance endurance and athletic performance, however, it’s not classed as a stimulant.In saying this, due to Cordyceps energising effect, it should be supplemented in the morning to avoid interrupted sleep.

How to grow Chaga mushroom

How to grow Chaga mushroom

So you’ve done your research on the amazing health benefits of this functional fungus, and you’re wondering how to cultivate your own at home?

The popularity of chaga (inonotus obliquus) has grown exponentially over the last decade, as the ancient healing wisdom of Siberian and Russian herbalists is validated through a growing body of scientific evidence.

So it makes sense you might want to try growing Chaga mushroom yourself. Unfortunately, it’s extremely unlikely you will find wild chaga mushrooms growing in Australia as it prefers the colder climates of countries in the Northern Hemisphere. For this reason Chaga mushroom extract is becoming more and more popular online

Let’s dive into the fascinating fungus-y world of the chaga mushroom and learn a little more about how and where it grows and how chaga mushroom supplements are created.

Where does chaga mushroom grow?

There are a few barriers to cultivating chaga in Australia, the number one issue being the climate in which it grows.

Chaga is often found growing on birch trees in the cold climate of the northern hemisphere and is unable to grow in warmer climates as it either prohibits the fungus from growing or kills it entirely.

Only chaga mushrooms harvested from extremely cold climates can be used for human consumption.

Unless you live in or near the Arctic Circle, growing chaga would be pointless as it would lose many of its beneficial nutritional compounds.

What is the life cycle of Chaga mushrooms?

Chaga is a parasitic fungus that naturally grows on the bark of live birch trees. 

However, it actually starts its life inside the tree’s trunk and grows slowly from within the tree to eventually occupying a space on the bark of the tree.

So, how long does Chaga take to grow?

Chaga can take upwards of 20 years to fully develop. The life cycle starts when airborne chaga spores penetrate the birch tree through injuries to the bark.

Chaga begins its life by parasitically growing on the inside of the tree trunk, eventually morphing into a protruding black mass known as a sterile conk.

The conk continues to grow on the bark of the tree, and as such, it continuously eats the timber as a source of nutrition. Eventually, the birch tree will die and disintegrate from the inside out. 

Soon after it dies, the chaga fungus produces its rarely witnessed mushroom phase, where a large , spongey mass emerges on the bark. At this stage in the life cycle, the chaga spores float through the air to find another host to infect.

A chaga conk can grow over one foot in diameter, producing more nutrients as it grows. The growth rate depends on the conditions, but it generally takes about five years for a chaga mushroom to reach ten inches in diameter. 

Chaga should only be harvested once it is at least the size of a grapefruit.

birch-trees How to grow Chaga mushroom

How is chaga sustainably farmed?

To grow chaga, you’ll ideally need a birch forest that’s at least 2 ha in size.

The chaga mushroom is propagated with the help of wooden dowels that are impregnated with the chaga mycelia.

Inoculating live birch trees is the process whereby chaga dowels are inserted into 5cm holes that have been drilled into the birch trees. One tree will have roughly 4-6 holes drilled into it, with chaga dowels inserted into each hole.

The chaga mushroom can be harvested up to three times every 5-7 years, making this one of the slowest growing medicinal mushrooms [1].

Can you grow Chaga in a lab?

Scientists have attempted to grow chaga mushrooms on a potato dextrose agar medium and other simulated mediums. This resulted in chaga mushrooms that showed a reduced number of compounds known as phytosterols.

Interestingly, sterols are the compounds produced by medicinal mushrooms that have demonstrated anti-tumour activity and offer essential overall health benefits.

While it may be possible for scientists to cultivate chaga in a lab with appropriate facilities and a large budget, it’s probably out of the scope of possibility for you or me.

Why wild chaga is better

Chaga absorbs a beneficial compound known as betulin from the bark of white birch trees, which ends up as part of the mushroom’s beneficial compounds that we consume.

This also may explain why cultivated chaga mushrooms haven’t been reproduced with the same benefits as wild chaga.

Chaga cultivation methods utilising mycelium on grain haven’t produced chaga with the same level or balance of compounds as mushrooms growing in the wild.

How is chaga mushroom used?

Besides the long historical link with folk medicine, another very interesting use of chaga came as a response to World War II rationing. Finns, in particular, harvested the chaga in nearby forests and steeped it in hot water to create a coffee substitute.

Chaga mushroom benefits are far-reaching, and the medicinal properties are being validated with further scientific study.

Still today, Chaga chunks are steeped in hot water to create chaga mushroom tea, which is consumed for its medicinal benefits [3].

Consuming chaga in a liquid tincture is also a beneficial way to absorb and assimilate the medicinal properties quickly. It’s also a super easy and convenient way to take a chaga extract without the hassle of brewing tea or adding it as a powder into other beverages or soups.

Importantly, a dual chaga extraction with both water and alcohol delivers the highest concentrations of beneficial medicinal compounds.

FAQS

Are there different types of Chaga?

There are only one species of Chaga, and its Latin name is Inonotus obliquus. The fungus has three main components: the dense dark brown/black charcoal-like exterior known as the conk.

Inside the conk is a bright orange spongey layer, and then the most inner layer of the Chaga mushroom is lighter orange and has a cork-like texture that can be easily peeled away.

All three layers are useful for imrpoving health and wellbeing.

Benefits of alcohol extraction for Chaga supplements?

Alcohol allows the body to absorb beneficial nutrients rapidly after ingestion.
The speed at which alcohol enters our bloodstream is extremely fast due to our digestive system being densely populated with capillaries that absorb the alcohol.

When taking an oral Chaga tincture, the beneficial compounds catch a ride with the alcohol and enter our system very quickly, making the benefits more readily available.

Chaga looks like a black growth protruding from the side of a tree’s trunk. Its exterior is hard, appearing dark black and roughly textured, but it has a vibrant orange centre whose texture is similar to that of cork.

How to grow cordyceps mushrooms

How to grow cordyceps mushrooms

Cordyceps is a potent medicinal mushroom boasting a wide array of incredible health benefits.
It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine practices for over 500 years and was commonly used to treat kidney and lung conditions, heart disease and even cancer.

More recently, we’re seeing evidence of how it can boost athletic performance, increase energy, enhance immune system function, and is even a proven remedy for diabetic conditions.

The curative properties of the cordyceps mushrooms are still being studied, but the historical evidence coupled with recent scientific research is providing an insight into ways in which this fascinating fungus can help humans.

“Traditional healers in Sikkim [a state in Northeastern India] recommend the fungus/mushroom cordyceps sinensis for “all illnesses” as a tonic because they claim that it improves energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns.”

Given all the fantastic benefits, it’s no wonder you’re interested in learning more about the mushroom cultivation process.

In this article, we explore what you’ll need to grow your own cordyceps and how to do it in five easy steps.

What you need to grow cordyceps mushrooms

It’s almost impossible to mimic the natural environment in which wild cordyceps grows unless, of course, you’re planning to sacrifice some poor unsuspecting insects and also have a source of cordyceps sinensis spores (more on the interesting way this fungus grows below).

Luckily, if you’re set on growing cordyceps at home, there are some alternative mushroom cultivation options that aren’t quite as gruesome as nature.

The equipment and materials required to grow cordyceps at home aren’t that difficult to find and can usually be purchased at a hardware or grocery shop.

However, things get a little more complicated with the cordyceps spawn or liquid culture as it can be somewhat challenging to access in Australia.

You’ll need the below ingredients and equipment to cultivate your cordyceps.

Required Materials:

  • cordyceps liquid culture
  • Substrate – brown rice
  • Nutrient broth
  • Sugar
  • Starch
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Trace minerals
  • Pureed baby food or vegetables
  • Filtered water

Equipment:

  • Wide-mouth mason jars
  • Face mask
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Polyfill (similar to what is found inside a pillow)
cordyceps-militaris How to grow cordyceps mushrooms

5 steps to cultivate cordyceps militaris

Step 1: Create the growing media

Creating a good media recipe is crucial for growing an abundant yield of cordyceps mushrooms.

The media is a combination of the nutrient broth recipe and grain, usually rice. These ingredients create a nutrient-dense substrate that provides a good source of vitamins, carbon and nitrogen for the fungus to survive.

Unlike plants, which use carbon dioxide and light as an energy source, fungi utilise pre-formed organic matter such as carbohydrates derived from sugar sources such as glucose and fructose. These are generally the preferred carbon source for the mushroom.

Fungi also utilise proteins from sources such as carbon and nitrogen; these molecules are assimilated from a complex digestive process between the fungi and growing media.

Nutrient broth:

  • 2 tbsp rice per mason jar
  • 4.5L water 
  • 1/2 cup starch, such as corn starch
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp sugar 
  • 2 tbsp organic trace mineral powder
  • 5 scoops of organic baby food or pureed vegetables

Create the media:

  • Drill a hole in the lid of the jar.
  • Sterilise both inside and outside of the jar with isopropyl alcohol.
  • Insert a small amount of polyfill into the lid hole, which acts as a filter.
  • Mix all ingredients except the rice, combine until all ingredients have dissolved.
  • Add 2 tbsp of rice into a mason jar.
  • Add ¼ cup of the liquid into the mason jar.
  • Screw the lid on the jar and sterilise for 3 hours at a minimum temperature of 120° C.
  • Allow the jars to cool overnight before inoculation.

Step 2: Inoculating the media

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to access cordyceps sinensis grain spawn online or through specialised retailers.

The next best option is a cordyceps militaris liquid mycelium culture, but again this can be hard to find online in Australia.

If you choose to purchase from an international seller, the liquid usually comes in a 10ml vial, and this should be dispersed evenly across the media within the jar.

Step 3: Incubation period & colonisation

The cordyceps mycelium thrives in a dark environment where the temperature is between 12-24° C. 

It can take anywhere from 10 to 20 days for the spawn to fully colonise the growing media.

One study on the observations of cordyceps militaris mycelial growth noted that “Light was found to be the most critical single factor in determining the density, texture, and pigmentation of the mycelial culture of the fungus. However, under the light condition, the degree of pigmentation and mycelial density were found to be affected by the incubation period and type of medium.”

Step 4: Pinning and fruiting the mushroom

Similar to how other plants grow, the fruiting process is initiated by a change in light cycles. An ideal light cycle for cordyceps to grow is 16 hours on and 8 hours off.

Similar to the inoculation phase, the temperature should remain consistently between 15 to 20° C. If the temperature rises above 26° C, it will usually kill the growing mushroom.

The jar should be left closed and requires little maintenance or monitoring throughout the fruiting period, taking anywhere from 4 – 6 weeks.

Step 5: Harvest

The cordyceps fruiting body may grow to the top of the jar if left long enough. However, the mushroom can be harvested before this point.

If the fruiting body stops growing before it reaches the top of the jar, it means it has finished growing and is ready to harvest.

Once you’ve harvested the cordyceps’ fruiting body, they can either be dried or used fresh to create nutritious broths and teas to obtain the medicinal benefits.

cordyceps-militaris-1 How to grow cordyceps mushrooms

What is cordyceps exactly?

The use of cordyceps in Traditional Chinese and Tibetan Medicine dates back thousands of years, and ancient Chinese medical books note the pharmacological potential of cordyceps to treat a range of ailments.

While you may have heard about the exceptional health benefits cordyceps can offer our overall health and wellbeing, you may not be aware of the interesting way this fungus grows.

The Ophiocordyceps sinensis fungus is parasitic in nature and invades the body of living caterpillars and eats the host tissue to derive nutrients. Eventually, the caterpillars die from the inside out and the external body of the caterpillar becomes mummified, at this point the fungus grows from the insect host’s head, and once it reaches maturity it releases its spores thus starting the cycle again.

While this might gross you out, it’s essential to know that not every species of cordyceps grows on bugs.

When it comes to medicinal mushrooms, there are two important species of cordyceps: cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris.

Due to the high demand for wild cordyceps sinensis mushrooms and its over-harvesting, it has become inaccessible to most and carries an incredibly high price tag.

However, researchers have developed a way to grow the cordyceps mycelium on a grain substrate or in liquid fermentation. However, this method of cultivation doesn’t allow for the fruiting body of the mushroom to grow.

Luckily, there is another species called cordyceps militaris that possesses similar medicinal properties to cordyceps sinensis and can be grown without insect hosts.
Thanks to recent scientific breakthroughs, the fruiting bodies of cordyceps militaris can be sustainably cultivated for use in supplements.

If growing your own mushrooms sounds a little daunting, or you’re unable to access the mycelium liquid or spores, the next best option is to consider a cordyceps supplement.

A liquid cordyceps extract is the most convenient way to ingesting the beneficial compounds for overall health and wellbeing.

FAQS

Are cordyceps easy to grow?

If you’ve been pondering the questions “can I grow cordyceps?” and “Are cordyceps easy to grow?” then the below info will shed a little light on the difficulty of growing this species.

Given the way cordyceps sinensis grows in the wild, it can take a little bit of practice before you get the hang of DIY mushroom cultivation.

If you are farming fungus at home, the most common cordyceps species you’ll grow is cordyceps militaris. In the right conditions, it grows well on a substrate of grain and a nutrient-dense liquid.

While cordyceps militaris doesn’t require a lot of maintenance throughout the fruiting process, you need to ensure proper sanitation so no other competing microbes infect the fungus.

Is cordyceps vegan friendly?

Given the parasitic nature of cordyceps sinensis and its propensity to thrive on insect hosts, it’s technically not a vegan-friendly product.

However, commercially cultivated crops of cordyceps militaris are generally not produced on an insect host and therefore are considered a vegan product.

It’s essential to read about the cultivation methods of any cordyceps supplements you are considering using to ensure they comply with any dietary requirements.

What does the cordyceps militaris fruiting body taste like?

Like many other mushrooms, cordyceps has a savoury, earthy/nutty flavour profile and makes an excellent addition to any soup or broth.

The fruiting bodies of the cordyceps militaris can be eaten both raw and cooked or even distilled into a liquid tincture which is an easy and effective way to access the medicinal benefits.

Chaga mushroom benefits

Chaga mushroom benefits

Chaga is often referred to as the king of medicinal mushrooms, and for a good reason.

Chaga is an incredibly powerful mushroom long revered for its potent anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-diabetic, and immunomodulating properties.

Is there anything it can’t do?

Chaga contains highly beneficial levels of antioxidants and is rich in vitamins A, C, B, D and E and minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, manganese and selenium.

It’s a true nutritional powerhouse, and the benefits of chaga mushroom are far-reaching.

Importantly, science is backing up the claims and anecdotal success stories of this fascinating species of fungus.

What is Chaga Mushroom?

Despite falling into the medicinal mushroom category, Australian Chaga mushroom is not actually a mushroom per se.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a parasitic fungus that grows almost exclusively on the bark of birch trees in the frigid climates of Northern European countries, Canada, Alaska, and Siberia.

Chaga mushroom spores infect the host tree’s trunk through a wound, such as where a branch falls off. As the fungus grows, it slowly develops into woody growth known as a sterile conk made up of wood lignans (polyphenols found in plants) and mycelium (the fungal root system).

The conk, or hardened mycelial mass, is the part of the mushroom harvested for medicinal mushroom supplements.

If harvesting is done carefully and the tree isn’t wounded, the birch trees can produce chaga roughly every three to five years.

The chaga mushroom, or sterile conk, certainly won’t be winning any beauty contests. It looks like nothing more than a dark browny-black mass of burnt charcoal, but the inside is where the magic happens and is a distinct orange golden colour.

Related: How to grow chaga mushrooms at home

 

 

Chaga-tea Chaga mushroom benefits

3 Highly beneficial compounds found in chaga

These important plant compounds help support a healthy immune system and offer many health benefits.

Triterpenes

Triterpenes are a compound found naturally in plants and act as potent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agents.

The two most notable triterpenes found in chaga mushrooms are betulin and betulinic acid, and in fact, they are found in high concentrations in the bark of the white birch tree, where chaga commonly grows.

It’s commonly thought that chaga mushrooms derive betulin from the birch tree’s bark.

However, studies have found that a small amount is produced endogenously by the chaga fungus.

“Betulinic acid has been shown to induce mitochondrial apoptosis in different cancer cell lines and inhibit the enzyme topoisomerase, which is essential for the unwinding and winding of the DNA strands in cell replication. In addition, it possesses anti-retroviral, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is currently being developed as an anti-cancer agent,” – Martin Powell.

 

Polysaccharides

Polysaccharides are long-chain carbohydrates that provide nutrition in the human diet and contain anti-inflammatory properties along with a host of other health benefits that also support immune health.

The most notable polysaccharides in chaga mushrooms are beta-blucans which are responsible for the immune-modulating effects commonly associated with this species.
Melanin
Chaga contains high levels of melanin which contribute to its dark brown appearance. Fungal melanin has powerful antioxidant properties that scavenge free radicals and reduce damage caused by oxidation. Additionally, it also protects humans from the harsh UV rays of the sun.

One study has demonstrated the radioprotective qualities of melanin in a rodent study.

Mice were given black wood ear fungus, which is high in melanin. Researchers found that it protected 80% of mice from a lethal dose of radiation. Meanwhile, the control group of mice who received mushrooms devoid of melanin died from gastrointestinal issues.

Top 7 chaga mushroom health benefits

Chaga is loaded with amazing health benefits and has one of the highest ORAC scores of any food.

ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbent capacity and determines the antioxidant value of food. This means chaga has the unique ability to protect the body from free radicals that contribute to disease and dysfunction.

Chaga has a long history of use in herbal and folk medicine in Russia and other Northern European countries and was traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal conditions, diabetes and heart disease.

However, as further research emerges, it’s becoming evident that chaga can improve a number of other conditions.

“Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.” – Paul Stamets, Mycologist.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the science behind the top 7 chaga mushroom benefits.

Fights Cancer

Cancer is ubiquitous in today’s modern world. Emerging scientific research indicates that chaga mushroom may be a powerful compound when it comes to fighting cancer.

Over the past decade, several studies have examined the anti-tumour properties of various chaga extracts and found that this natural dietary supplement offers remarkable efficacy in treating solid tumours in mice.

In 2016, researchers studied the effects of chaga on tumour-bearing rodent models, and found that mice who received chaga experienced a 60% tumour reduction.

Moreover, mice with metastatic tumours (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) had a 25% decrease in nodules compared to the control group.

In another study, researchers discovered that Inotodiol, a bioactive constituent found in chaga, prevented human lung cancer cells from migrating and invading healthy cells.

“Chaga treatment led to cell cycle disruption as evidenced by decreased steady-state cyclin mRNA expression and an increase in the number of cells in the G2 phase of the cell cycle. Moreover, chaga treatment led to melanoma cell toxicity in a dose-dependent manner. These data suggest that ethanol extracts of chaga may have the potential as an anti-melanoma treatment.”

Chaga is one of the highest sources of betulinic acid, which is renowned for its ability to kill cancer cells.

Chaga mushroom is often listed as one of the top anti-cancer and anti-tumour dietary supplements and research has demonstrated chaga to be beneficial for colon cancer cells, stomach, endometrial, lung, breast, and prostate cancer.

Immune Health Booster

Chaga contains an abundance of beta-glucans which can effectively strengthen the immune system.

Beta-glucans are a glucose polymer (sugar) found in the cell walls of specific plants, bacteria and fungus and yeasts. When eaten, they become a soluble and fermentable fibre.

Soluble fibres are known for stimulating immune cells in the gastrointestinal system and have positive effects on a wide range of diseases such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, and skin diseases.

As with other mushrooms, chaga’s polysaccharide content demonstrates robust immune-modulating activity

Antioxidant and nutrient Boost

The antioxidant activity of different medicinal mushrooms has been linked to the total level of phenolic compounds. Chaga has been found to contain a very high phenolic content, contributing to its amazing ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.

Melanin is another compound found in high concentrations in the chaga mushroom, and it has been identified as having significant renoprotective and antioxidant properties [5].

Chaga is also a nutrient-dense superfood, chocked full of essential vitamins and minerals, including:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Amino acids
  • Fibre
  • Copper
  • Selenium 
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium 

Enhanced Digestion

Chaga can help us build healthy and robust gut function.

Chaga contains protein-bound polysaccharides, which act as prebiotic fibre and effectively feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut.

A study found that mice who received chaga polysaccharides had a healthier microbiome due to bacterial changes in the gut.

The therapeutic effect of chaga polysaccharides was also found to improve gut health for mice with chronic pancreatitis.

As Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut”, ensuring a healthy microbiome through medicinal mushroom supplementation and a clean diet can go a long way to ensuring overall peak physical and mental health.

Inflammation

Inflammation is part of the immune system’s defence system and responds to various foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria and environmental chemicals and toxins.

Inflammation can either be chronic or acute depending on the situation; for example, if you cut yourself, it will elicit an acute inflammatory response to heal the wound. However, many conditions also contribute to long-term inflammation within the body.

Chaga is an antioxidant powerhouse and supports a robust response to inflammation. It appears to work by regulating the production of cytokines involved in inflammation, making it an excellent medicinal food for people suffering from chronic autoimmune conditions.

Blood Sugar Balance

Several animal studies have found that chaga effectively lowers blood sugar, giving it the unique ability to help manage diabetes.

In another study, diabetic mice were supplemented with chaga and saw a 31% decrease in blood sugar levels over the following weeks.

Part of chaga’s effects on blood sugar may be credited to suppressing an enzyme that breaks down starch. Blocking this enzyme helps slow down glucose (sugar) absorption in the digestive system, allowing blood glucose levels to remain stable.

Skin repair

The unique beta-glucans and betulinic acid compounds found in chaga simultaneously provide nutrients for the skin and fight free radicals that destroy skin health. All of these factors may help slow the signs of ageing.

In one case study, researchers found that 9-12 weeks of chaga supplementation effectively treated patients who presented with both Psoriasis and other pro-inflammatory disorders of the GI system, liver and biliary system.

Consuming chaga: dosage, safety and side effects

Accessing chaga mushroom Australia is relatively easy, however, you should do your research to ensure you’re purchasing a high-quality, wild foraged product that doesn’t contain any toxins or heavy metals.

How to take chaga?

Traditionally chunks or powdered chaga has been immersed in hot water to make tea. The hot water extraction method ensures maximum availability of the bioactive compounds chaga is known and loved for.

Chaga tea has a distinct, slightly bitter flavour profile. The concentration of the tea will determine how robust the flavour will be.

However, an ethanol (alcohol) extraction has superior levels of all sterols, triterpenes, and lignin, which make up some of chaga’s most impressive characteristics.

Chaga dosage

Always follow the instructions of your chaga supplement, as this is a guide to the correct dosage.

Most people benefit from supplementing ¼ to ½ a teaspoon to start, which equates to roughly 2.5g.

It’s recommended not to exceed 3.6g per day.

However, an ethanol (alcohol) extraction has superior levels of all sterols, triterpenes, and lignin, which make up some of chaga’s most impressive characteristics.

Chaga mushroom side effects & safety

Chaga is generally well tolerated, and side effects seem to be few and far between. However, many studies on chaga have been conducted on animals, and it’s always important to speak with a health professional.

One important thing to remember about chaga is that it is high in oxalates, which may prevent the absorption of some nutrients and is possibly toxic in high doses.

Oxalates are a compound found in the food we consume, but they are also produced as waste by our bodies.

As oxalates leave the body, they bind with calcium, increasing the risk of kidney stones for some people.

If you have kidney disease or a history of kidney stones, your doctor might advise you to follow a low-oxalate diet.

Chaga may also increase the risk of bleeding, so it’s best to discuss with your doctor if you have a bleeding disorder.

 

FAQS

When is the best time of day to take chaga?

Chaga is not a stimulant or energising medicinal mushroom and is suitable to consume at any time of the day without keeping you awake at night. Because it has adaptogenic properties, it’s great at calming the stress response. It makes a great addition to your morning routine.

How long does chaga take to work?

Most people report feeling the health benefits of chaga within 2-3 weeks of starting consistent supplementation

Does chaga interact with any medications?

Chaga is not recommended for anyone taking anticoagulants (blood thinners). Chaga may slow blood clotting, and it’s best to discuss your medical history with a GP.

Chaga mushroom extract benefits: what are the most common ways to take consume chaga?

Chaga mushrooms are made into a variety of different supplements including powder, capsules and a liquid alcohol extract, which is by far the easiest way to get the health benefits of chaga extract.

Chaga Tea – Either chunks of chaga or a powdered extract can be steeped in hot water to create a medicinal chaga mushroom tea.

Chaga Coffee – Some people prefer to add chaga mushroom powder into their coffee as it’s said to mitigate the jittery effects caused by caffeine.

Liquid chaga extract – Offers an easy and convenient way to consume chaga mushrooms in a concentrated formula, while also ensuring all the same health benefits of powder or capsules.

Is chaga an edible mushroom?

Chaga is not the same as other edible mushrooms and can’t be consumed as part of a meal for example. However, chaga mushroom benefits can still be obtained from consuming chaga supplements on a daily basis which can help combat oxidative stress, contribute to healthy blood sugar levels, and boost the immune system.

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