The Interaction Between Alcohol and Chaga: What You Need to Know

Chaga is used in traditional medicine and originates from Eastern Europe. In this article, we will consider the possible interaction between Chaga and alcohol, which, unfortunately, is commonly abused in Eastern Europe. We will talk about the potential health benefits of Chaga, the issues with overdosing, and the effects of alcohol.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

A blue image with text saying "Alcohol and Chaga"

Effects of Alcohol While Using Chaga

Alcohol can potentially alter the beneficial properties of Chaga and may interfere with the absorption of Chaga, reducing its effectiveness.

What is Chaga?

Chaga, or Inonotus obliquus, is a special type of fungus that forms sclerotia (a compact mass of mycelium). Usually, it is found on birch trees in climates found in Eastern Europe and Asia [1].

Traditionally, it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries in countries like Russia, Poland, and Baltic countries [1].

Chaga is typically consumed as a tea or extract but can be consumed in powder form as well.

It has been particularly recognized for a range of health-beneficial properties like anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative activities.

Chaga is rich in vitamins (including folate, B6, C, and others), nutrients, and minerals (like potassium, zinc, and iron) but also includes bioactive compounds including phenolic ingredients, triterpenoids, and polysaccharides, all contributing to its beneficial properties [2, 3, 4, 5].

Importantly, although Chaga has many potential benefits, it also contains high levels of oxalate. Therefore, overconsumption can contribute to kidney damage [6].

Does Chaga interact with alcohol?

There is no specific evidence suggesting the interaction between Chaga and alcohol. In fact, no studies (that we know of) have been conducted addressing this question.

...

What can be problematic is overconsuming Chaga while under the influence of alcohol, which may lead to kidney damage. However, it's important to note that Chaga contains high concentrations of oxalates, which can lead to kidney problems in some individuals [3].

However, such combination is best to be consulted with healthcare professional first. They can provide personalized advice based on your health history and current medication.

What are the effects of alcohol while using Chaga?

Although no specific studies have been conducted investigating the effects of alcohol while using Chaga, educated assumptions based on the known properties of both can be made.

Chaga is known for its antioxidant and anticancer properties against certain cancer-derived cells [7].

On the other hand, ethanol, which is the major ingredient in alcohol, can increase slow frequencies and decrease fast frequencies in the brain [8] and can lead to liver damage when consumed too frequently in large amounts [9].

Given these properties, it's possible that consuming alcohol while using Chaga could potentially interfere with the beneficial effects of Chaga. For instance, the liver damage caused by alcohol could potentially counteract the antioxidant and anticancer benefits of Chaga.

Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.