Chaga Fungi, Information & Benefits
Medicinal mushrooms are often used in Chinese medicine because of their beneficial effects on health.
In the West too, people are becoming increasingly aware of the powerful properties of some mushrooms or fungi. Did you know that they share DNA with us and are more genetically related to humans than to plants? Just like herbs, medicinal mushrooms can be a powerful natural tool.
Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake and Cordyceps are examples of some fungi that are gaining in popularity. And then, of course, there is chaga, the king of medicinal mushrooms!
What is Chaga?
Chaga (tcha-ga) is an old Russian word, for mushroom. It’s a fungus that lodges itself in the open wounds (knots) of birch trees and then grows with the tree for 5 to 7 years. Chaga does not look like a mushroom, but more like a black/orange bulge, and is as hard as wood or sometimes cork like.
Chaga thrives in places with cold, harsh climates such as Russia, Canada and Scandinavia. To survive there, the Chaga fungus protects itself with all kinds of natural substances. Chaga also reinforces itself with the power of birch trees by extracting nutrients from the inner layers of the bark.
Chaga is a superfood full of antioxidants, beta-glucans, phytochemicals, phenols, sterols and enzymes that support or can restore our health.
Variations of Chaga Superfoods
There is no doubt that Chaga is a superfood with powerful properties that can have a positive effect on our health. Chaga can help to prevent or cure specific diseases, but it is also a powerful tool to support general resistance.
Originally, Chaga was used to make tea. The warm water is required to enable release of polysaccharides in the Chaga mushroom so that they can be absorbed by the human body.
Nowadays, you can also get capsules with Chaga powder that can be easily swallowed as a supplement. You should make sure that it is wild Chaga powder. Cultured Chaga does not always have the typical substances that are contained in birch bark.
Finally, age-old brews or herbal drinks with Chaga are now being rediscovered and sold as Chaga elixir. In the past, it was customary to take cod liver oil to stimulate resistance. Today, you can take Chaga elixir. This is a tastier alternative, and has various ingredients such as sea buckthorn berries, aloe, pine buds, yarrow and honey, all of which are high in antioxidants and increase resistance or support the immune system.