If you are one of the 8 million Americans struggling with psoriasis, you know just how debilitating this condition can be. You may have tried a number of things to treat it, ranging from Western medicine to alternative therapies. You also have likely grown used to hearing about the latest, greatest natural “cure” for psoriasis.
While we are definitely not promising some miraculous cure, we have some promising information and studies about consuming Chaga for psoriasis. Before diving in, let us cover a few basics first.
What exactly is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition caused by overactive immune systems accelerating the growth of skin cells. With this condition, your skin cells multiply as much as ten times more quickly than they normally would. This causes skin to accumulate in non-contagious, red, scaly patches that are covered.
These can grow anywhere, but are more common on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. The patches may heal yet return again and again over a persons lifetime.
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What is Chaga mushroom?
Although commonly called a mushroom, Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is in fact a sclerotia, a solidified mass of mycelium from the mushroom. Chaga grows mostly on Birch trees in cold climates, such as Canada, Siberia, Scandinavia, and parts of the U.S. Chaga does not grow out of the ground of the forest, as do most mushrooms. Rather, chaga appears in Birch trees in black, coal-like masses called spherules, which have an interior that is a orangish-tan and woody.
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Despite its ugly appearance, the Chaga’s broad-ranging health benefits more than compensate for its lack of aesthetic appeal. Chaga is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, making it a functional mushroom powerhouse. It is been shown to support a strong immune system, offer anti-inflammatory benefits, support heart health, encourage a healthy digestive tract, and potentially play a role in cancer prevention, just to name a few. One intriguing theory is that the myriad beneficial compounds of chaga could result from natural adaptations made by the mushroom to survive the cold, harsh weather it grows in.
Does Chaga Help Heal Psoriasis?
Since psoriasis is an immune-mediated disorder causing systemic inflammation, using Chaga to decrease inflammation and modulate the immune system sounds like a match made in heaven. But what does the research say? While the research on humans is lacking, there are a few very intriguing studies on animals that are worth noting.
In one study we found, mice suffering from intestinal inflammation were given chaga extract. The study showed it inhibited TNF-alpha(1), the protein used by the immune system to communicate to cells, a major player in the flare-up of psoriasis. In another study, continued regular consumption of chaga led to a complete reversal of psoriasis lesions in 38 of 50 individuals, with no other treatments. The study found that using Chaga to treat psoriasis was especially successful in cases in which the psoriasis occurred together with chronic inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract, liver, and biliary system. So yes, chaga does seem to help heal psoriasis according to these studies.
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Even better, no adverse effects were observed in the trial. The study reported it usually takes 9-12 weeks to see improvements.
For an illness that is known to be difficult to treat, this research is highly impressive. While larger-scale studies in humans will have to take place, the present studies are extremely promising.
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After all, treatment for psoriasis is sometimes worse than the disease itself, from the standpoint of side effects. For instance, topical corticosteroids are often used to treat this condition, however, these can have negative side effects over the long-term, including worsening of the psoriasis attacks once steroids are stopped, decreased eyesight, diabetes, weight gain, and memory loss, just to name a few. Chaga, on the other hand, is entirely natural and has no negative effects. In fact, it supports human health in an amazing array of ways.
Find a trusted source for your Chaga
Buying chaga mushrooms from a trusted vendor is the best way to guarantee their efficacy and safety. Not all Chaga products are created equally, so make sure that you are getting it from a company whose chaga is grown organically, harvested sustainably, extracted gently, and tested for quality and contaminants, like heavy metals, pesticides, microbial contaminants, and gluten. If the Chaga supplement lists ingredients such as “mycelium on grains” or other weird fillers, you are better off steering clear. To get the most out of this fungal powerhouse, look for a Chaga extract that uses wild-harvested Chaga.
So Will Chaga mushroom Help With psoriasis?
While no one at this time can say whether chaga is a treatment for psoriasis, available studies on animals seem to show promise. With its immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as high antioxidant content, Chaga is certainly worth trying for anyone struggling with psoriasis. As with any therapy or supplement, it is important to have the permission of a physician before starting.