If you’ve yet to learn about Chaga then you’re in for a treat. This medicinal mushroom is loaded with both healing qualities and a delicious taste. Aside from it being renowned as an anti-aging superfood – what’s more is it can be made into delicious tea and coffee substitutes!
Chaga, otherwise known as Inontus Obliquuus, is a wild mushroom that grows on birch trees in colder climates. Here in the Mid-West where birch trees grow in abundance, you can actually luck-out and find it wild right off the tree! Depending where you are at, Chaga can be found in the Baltic regions, Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada and northern parts of the States – specifically, where temperatures fall bellow -30 F for over 2 to 3 months per year.
As a fungus, the ‘conk’ of the chaga grows and lives off of the tree, absorbing it’s nutriments secondary – having a symbiotic relationship with the tree. What’s most amazing about Chaga is that its DNA structure is 30% more human than it is plant!
HISTORY OF CHAGA
I have a friend that is a 74 year old Siberian man and is probably healthier than I am. Interestingly enough, it’s been documented that Siberian tribes who used chaga had a lifespan of ninety to over one hundred years! The indigenous Siberians would harvest it wild, grind it and use it in stews, soups, and beverages daily. The Siberians found that regular consumption of chaga helped build immunity, which says a lot considering their intense climate. Even contemporary Russians have found that the individuals who regularly consumed chaga have no traces of cancer.
Traditionally, Chaga was used by the Ancient Chinese, Korean, and Eastern European. The Russians and other Europeans consider it a cure for cancer. Canadians, a cure for tumors and Koreans it’s used to regulate stress and build energy. Over all, it is known for its ability to cure many skin conditions, including psoriasis and eczema.
In conclusion, Chaga is not some new trendy superfood – though many “health gurus” and companies are marketing it more thus bringing it into the public domain. In actuality, it’s been used for centuries and popularly as a tea. I’m personally glad it’s gaining some mainstream attention because it is a truly wonderful substance that many could benefit from. And speaking of benefits, here’s a little bit more detail on the medicinal qualities of Chaga.
- Supports The Immune System. Chaga is rich in Beta-D-Glucans, help balance the body’s immune system responses. It does so by both boosting the immune system when necessary, while also slowing it down when it is overactive, in the case of autoimmunity. You could say Chaga is an immuno-modulator.
- Fights Cancer. As I mentioned briefly, Chaga is known to cure cancers. Researchers have studied the indigenous people of Siberia to learn about the effects of Chaga. The researchers did not find a single of trace of cancer in the region. Additionally, they found that the people of this region where brewing chaga instead of coffee in order to save money. Oddly enough, the people didn’t know the benefits of Chaga, they just enjoyed the beverage. This is why its important to do what feels good – if it’s pleasurable, it’s good for you. If it’s painful, it’s not. Funny how life works when we follow what is enjoyable! And thanks to modern technology, there is now evidence that shows Chaga has a very high content of super-oxide dismutase (SOD), an important enzyme that functions as one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. SOD is naturally occurring in human tissues, but declines with age, especially after age 30. Chaga now has been studied in about 900 different clinical trials, the health benefits of its use are clear, especially in treating cancer.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties. Chaga supports the health of the blood vessels and can provide soothing properties in times of inflammation. Considering that inflammation is at the root of all physical disease – this is can be helpful for anyone, especially anyone with pain, skin problems, digestive issues or even diabetes.
- Supports Digestive Health. Chaga has the ability to sooth ulcers and support overall intestinal health. Most ulcers are caused by a bacteria known as H. Pylori, which can be fought off by a well-functioning immune system. Chaga as we known is amazing for the immune system, it also happens to be anti-viral.
- It’s Anti-Aging. Chaga is anti-aging for all the reasons mentioned above. Remember SOD? Well, it has vital anti-aging functions. Most aging comes down to oxidative stress from free radicals, produced during times of stress. SOD actually neutralizes oxygen free radicals, and prevents oxidative damage to the cells and tissue. This makes Chaga extremely beneficial for the skin. Don’t take my word for it though, try for yourself or at the least, check out some of the studies done that have proven it’s ability to help skin disorders. You can make a face cream with chaga extract, cacao butter, and essential oils.
Where to Find Chaga
Chaga can only grow wild and is quite hard to find. It grows predominantly on birch trees in cold climates throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including northern parts of Europe, Russia, Korea, Canada, and the United States. If you do not live in these northern regions, you can find chaga mushrooms and chaga tinctures at local health food stores or online.
How to Use Chaga
Chaga tea is the most popular way to consume chaga. If you have foraged your own, then you are going to want to make a tea decoction or tincture. Here is how you make a chaga tea:
- Break whole chaga into 10g chunks.
- Grind one chunk into powder using a blender or coffee grinder.
- Place one or two teaspoons into a tea infuser or french press.
- Place the tea infuser over a large mug and pour in about 2 cups of hot water.
- Leave the chaga and hot water steeping for at least 5 minutes (the longer the better to get more bioactive ingredients). For a really good decoction, let it sit for up to 20 minutes.
- Remove the infuser from the mug and add maple syrup or stevia for sweetness.
For Instant Chaga, I recommend a dual-extracted powdered Chaga like this one. They are not only convenient, they taste incredible, mix very well, are extremely bio-available and make a great coffee alternative or additive.