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Chaga vs. Reishi: What is the Difference and Which is the Best to Eat?
Mushrooms are some of nature’s most interesting foods; medicinal mushrooms have been cultivated by human societies for thousands of years, and their ability to affect your health, fitness and immune system is part of their appeal. Specifically, chaga and reishi mushrooms are the most heavily-studied “adaptogenic mushrooms,” meaning that their bioavailability and effects in your body are demonstrated to enhance some aspect of your general health.
When making the argument for Chaga vs Reishi, we need to consider how they behave in the body, how best to consume each one, and discuss the best ways to incorporate them into a diet.
Believe it or not, you can consume these adaptogenic champions in a variety of ways while still conserving their nutritional and medicinal value. We'll delve into the world of herbal medicine and frankly... mushrooms are the star of the show.
Today, let’s look at three major points that best capture the most popular adaptogenic mushrooms on the market right now. We will be explaining:
- The nutritional value of Chaga, and how best to eat them.
- The nutritional value of Reishi, and how best to eat them, as well.
- Why either Chaga or Reishi is a better choice for certain people, depending on their goals, lifestyle, taste and even location.
Mushrooms can be extremely efficient vegan energy boosts, immune system enhancers, and culinary gems if prepared properly. Our ancestors understood their medicinal value for centuries. Combined with modern techniques, science has shown us just how influential adaptogenic supplements are.
First off, we are going to look at chaga’s nutritional makeup, and explain how best to use it...
WHAT IS CHAGA?
Chaga mushrooms, known by the Latin name Inonotus obliquus, are fungi that grow out of tree bark in cold, moist climates throughout the world. They are found in Siberia, Russia, Europe, Canada, and Alaska; these guys need a lot of cold weather to thrive, and they have been cultivated by these societies for generations due to their availability and metabolic properties.
Chaga has been thoroughly studied in translational and clinical oncology and immunology. Translational science is any kind of scientific research that can be “translated” into treatment for human health.
Researchers and clinicians from Showa University in Japan studied chaga extracts in mouse models, whereby they introduced the mushroom into mice that had developed a certain type of aggressive lung cancer, and metastatic -- spreading -- cancer.
They found that a dose of Chaga comparable to humans by weight in the mice showed a 60% tumor reduction in the lung cancer mice, and a 25% tumor reduction in metastatic mice, while also reducing their weight.
This suggests that chaga has a protective effect against certain types of cancer by way of its effect on body metabolism.
Chaga nutrition facts are promising, as the mushroom can be an effective health booster like:
- Anti-Cancer: There are a variety of trials conducted that have looked at Chaga’s anti-cancer properties in treating colon cancer.
- Antioxidant: Chaga has been demonstrated to alleviate oxidative stress and “scavange” free radicals in the body.
- Anti-aging: While Chaga has not been clinically studied for its anti-aging properties, its powerful antioxidant profile is similar to other substances that have been demonstrated to turn back the clock on our metabolism.
- Reduced Inflammation: Countless studies have demonstrated Chaga’s ability to reduce inflammatory processes in the body by stopping the inflammatory cascade.
Chaga is best, and most traditionally served boiled in hot water; extracting Chaga in this way improves the flavor, and its taste is similar to strong tea or coffee. It can also be extracted as a mushroom powder and added to water.
By these common preparations, the beta-d-glucan content is relatively well-preserved. Beta-d-glucan is the focus of numerous clinical reviews studying its health benefits, and its high preservation in Chaga extracts may be part of the reason for Chaga’s health benefits.
WHAT IS REISHI?
Reishi, also known by its Latin name Ganoderma lucidum, thrives in almost the exact opposite climate as Chaga -- it flourishes in areas that are warm and humid, and has been cultivated as an herbal medicine in Eastern nations for many years. It is still widely studied as an alternative herbal supplement that is biologically active, and its therapeutic potential is still being understood.
Reishi nutrition is relatively easy to break down, as researchers from the Maharishi Markandeshwar University Department of Biotechnology published a thorough review of its biological constituents in 2013. Its pharmacological significance has to do with its astronomically high concentration of polysaccharides, fiber, vitamins and essential amino acids, and its ability to maintain its medical significance no matter which way you eat it.
Reishi mushroom extracts are prized for their role in improving outcomes by way of:
- Boosts the Immune System: Reishi extracts can modulate the development of immune cells in the human body, potentially reducing the risk of infectious diseases.
- Stabilizing your Mood: Reishi has been demonstrated to reduce anxiety in breast cancer patients, and researchers noted the absence of significant adverse effects (i.e. unwanted side effects). The pharmacology of this mood enhancing effect is not well-understood, but its safety suggests incorporating it into a diet comes with few side effects.
- Fighting cancer: Medicinal mushrooms in general can combat the oxidative stress that leads to the development of cancer. A large scale epidemiological review found that while it should not be considered a first line treatment, reishi extracts may be safe and may help improve recovery in colorectal cancer patients.
You don’t have to be actively fighting a disease or cancer in order to reap the benefits of Reishi mushroom, though. It can be consumed in many forms, but the most popular is boiling it; they can be eaten raw, though the taste may not be as great. Reishi mushrooms can be a strong compliment to an already-healthy diet by nature if its health benefits.
SHOULD I EAT CHAGA OR REISHI?
Both mushrooms can be strong boosters to a health regiment, but you may be inclined to choose one over the other. The reason being that each fungus has a distinct optimal dose, preparation, purpose, and health effect that should be considered.
Chaga is a prized anti-cancer supplement that has been used for centuries, and Reishi is also a good choice for mood and immune system boosting. Whether or not you choose Chaga or Reishi should be based on which you find easiest to prepare, safest to eat, and tastiest to include in meals. In many cases, however, Chaga may be preferred for exercise recovery due to its superior anti-inflammatory profile over Reishi.
Luckily, there’s a great way to reap the benefits of both Chaga and a variety of other mushroom supplements without having to worry about prep and flavor.
Used for centuries in Eastern medicine for their powerful effects, our nootropic blend combines the benefits of Cordyceps, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, and Maitake mushrooms.
Together, these powerful ingredients battle fatigue, improve mental function, and boost your immune system so that you can train longer and recover faster.