Many of you may have never even heard of chaga. So the obvious important first question to answer is, “What is Chaga?”
Chaga, also known as Inonotus Obliquus, is a polypore fungus that typically grows on birch trees. As shown in the picture, it looks like a burnt bulbous, which makes it very distinct and visible for those who those to go mushroom hunting. Underneath the black outer layer lies a light brown under-layer and is where most of the important medicinal qualities are found.
Evidence of chaga consumption can be traced as far back as 3,300 B.C.E. during the end of the stone age. It was then used extensively throughout Russia and China, where it was known as the “King of Herbs” and “Mushroom of Immortality.” Due to scientific confirmation of ancient knowledge on chaga, its use is now worldwide and continually growing, as more important research is currently being revealed.
Chaga Health Benefits
1. Beta Glucans: Like all medicinal mushrooms, Chaga contains beta glucans, which are complex polysaccharides that offer potent immune supporting properties.
2. Anti-oxidants: Chaga has been shown to have an extremely high ORAC value (anti-oxidant properties), well beyond that of other high antioxidant foods such as blueberry’s. In may even be true that Chaga offers one of most powerful anti-oxidant effects of any substance yet discovered!
3. Melanin: A rare source of melanin, chaga mushroom is a rich source for this compound, which helps protect our DNA and the ability to maintain healthy skin.
4. Other Unique Health Benefits: Chaga extracts may also inhibit tumor growth, help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, and even balance the body’s qi (energy) levels according to Chinese medicine.
Chaga Extraction Methods and Uses
On the market today there are two main methods used to extract the nutrients and beneficial compounds from chaga inonotus obliquus. One is to make a chaga tea through a hot water extraction, which is the traditional method and mainly isolates the beta glucans. The other is to make a chaga extract by combining chaga in alcohol and letting the alcohol seep out the terpenes (adaptogenic qualities). As a tea, chaga has a very mild and pleasant flavor reminiscent of coffee and vanilla. As an alcohol extract it also has a very mild flavor as well and can be easily mixed with any other beverage.
What is Chaga Conclusion
Thousands of years of historical use combined with solid scientific research on chaga inonotus obliquus have proven that this extraordinary substance is one of the most powerful medicinal compounds we can ingest. It is has become one of my favorite foods/herbs and I use it almost everyday. I hope that you will consider using it and adding it to your integral health regimen. You may even come to realize why ancient cultures revered chaga as the “King of Herbs” and “Mushroom of Immortality.” Enjoy!