If you’ve never heard of the chaga mushroom, you’re not alone. Chaga mushrooms have been used for years in parts of Asia due to their ability to boost immunity and help improve overall health. In recent years, the chaga mushroom has gained popularity in the western world.
The chaga mushroom, whose scientific name is Inonotus obliquus, acts as a strong antioxidant that is believed to both prevent and cure several serious diseases. This mushroom can be consumed in several different forms… If you love mushrooms and are interested in learning how chaga can improve your health, keeping reading.
Chaga is a medicinal mushroom used to treat many illnesses, including diabetes and cancer. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the mushroom itself that is used for medicinal purposes. Instead, it’s the woody fruiting conk which grows on the chaga mushroom itself that is actually used. The chaga mushroom is referred to as a superfood by many doctors and health specialists around the world.
The use of the chaga mushroom is legal, as it is not listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list. Chaga is not a psychedelic mushroom.
Chaga only grows on birch trees in cold climates in the northern hemisphere, and can be found in areas of the United States, Canada, Eastern and Northern Europe, Siberia, and Korea. Depending on where chaga is grown, it has a variety of nicknames such as“The King of Herbs” and “The Mushroom of Immortality.” The chaga mushroom varies in size and shape, but it is always black and is often seen with a hint of gold color. Chaga is typically anywhere between five and twenty inches in size and takes 10 to 20 years to grow. The outside of the chaga mushroom, referred to as the Sclerotium, is black, cracked, and very hard. The dark black color will resemble charcoal. The inside part of the mushroom is softer and has a yellow or golden color to it.
The use of the chaga mushroom has been dated back thousands of years. In China, chaga was documented as early as 100 B.C. in a book by monk Shen Nong. The chaga mushroom has also played a prominent role, historically, in Siberian folklore. Those living in the mountains in the country smoked the fungus and rubbed it on their skin for medicinal purposes, as it was believed the mushroom would provide healing benefits. In the 12th century, Russian Tsar Vladimir Monamah used chaga to heal his lip cancer. It may even be possible that Otzi the Iceman, who lived 5,300 years ago, used chaga mushrooms. Those living hundreds and thousands of years ago recognized what some have only realized in recent history: the chaga mushroom is magical.
What is Chaga Good For?
Chaga is used for a lot of different reasons. Here are just a handful of reasons as to why people consume this black mushroom:
Boosts the immune system: The chaga mushroom is a strong antioxidant, which means that it strengthens our immune system. When our immune system is healthy, our bodies can fight against harmful free radicals that cause various forms of cancer as well as autoimmune diseases. These antioxidants are also incredibly beneficial for our skin, hair, and nails.
Full of vitamins and nutrients: The chaga mushroom contains several vitamins and nutrients that we all need, including vitamin d, amino acids, b-complex vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, and many more.
Treats cancer: Scientific studies have shown that continuous use of chaga can reduce the size of various tumors and effectively treat cancer.
Control blood sugar levels: Many diabetics use the chaga mushroom as a way to keep their blood sugar levels in control.
Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol: The chaga mushroom contains betulinic acid, which has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol. Betulinic acid is a naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenoid that has antiretroviral, antimalarial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Reduces inflammation: Chaga can reduce chronic inflammation present in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis because it helps regulate cytokine production.
Helps psoriasis: In 1973, a chaga study was conducted in Russia with 50 patients. All participants were cured of their psoriasis completely.
Click here to check out more health benefits of chaga.
How to Use Chaga Mushrooms
Chaga can be consumed in many different ways. However, chaga mushroom tea is by far the most common way to consume this powerful antioxidant. Chaga tea can be made using chaga mushroom powder in a single cup or by boiling chaga mushroom chunks in a large pot of water on the stove. If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, chaga powder can also be added to those beverages for extra health benefits.
Another way to use chaga is by making it into a tincture for external use or internal use. You can make your own tincture by soaking the chaga mushroom in alcohol for a few months, or you can skip that and purchase pre-made tinctures online.
Lastly, chaga can also be consumed in capsule form. Chaga in capsule or instant form is easier to consume. However, the majority of the benefits are lost during manufacturing. Chaga, like most natural forest medicines, must be taken in its raw unaltered form. As an herbal decoction or ‘tea,’ chaga should be steeped at 176 degrees Fahrenheit or below, or it can be extracted with pure-grade alcohol.
If you decide to use chaga capsules, remember the following:
- Dual extract tablets have a stronger effect than unprocessed chaga tablets
- Be sure only to use chaga tablets that contain chaga sourced from the earth. Avoid the use of chaga that is produced in a laboratory. Chaga sourced from a laboratory lacks sufficient superfood ingredients.
Where Can I Buy Chaga?
While most people purchase chaga in powder or capsule form online, it can also easily be harvested, assuming you know what to look for. In the United States, you are most likely to locate chaga growing on paper birch or yellow birch trees, which are more common in the northeast portion of the country. Chaga can also be located on cherry birch trees, which are found in the southern part of the United States.
Chaga mushrooms grow in various shapes ranging from cone to dome shapes and typically have sharp edges. If you decide to pick your own chaga, make sure always to take it from a living tree. Chaga is a parasite that grows on the birch tree, so if the tree dies, the mushroom will too. Further, it is best to harvest the chaga during the fall, when there are at least 20 consecutive nights of temperatures at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, or below. You can harvest through the fall and winter until the sap starts to run.
Avoid harvesting chaga after the sap has started to run or during summer months. At these times, the chaga will have less water content, and fewer nutrients, and therefore will not be as beneficial for your health.
Chaga can either be picked with your hands or chopped off with an outdoor knife. However, be sure to always leave some chaga (at least 15%) on the tree so it can continue growing.
If you’ve never tried chaga, what are you waiting for? There are several scientifically-proven medicinal and health benefits to consuming this wild black fungus. There are very few reported side effects of chaga consumption. In fact, it can safely be consumed daily in various forms. Whether you are interested in preventing cancer or normalizing your blood pressure, or just because you want to do good for your body, chaga can help.