Chaga Mushrooms: the What, the Why, the How
What is Chaga?
Inonotus obliquus, also known as Chaga, is a parasitic mushroom found on birch trees (most commonly, though they can be found on a few others) in cold climates of the Northern Hemisphere.
It produces a woody growth or conk that resembles a piece of burnt charcoal on the bark of the tree. Though it may look rather unappealing on the outside, when removed from the tree the softer inside of this polypore reveals a lovely burnt orange color. It is a rare find, and I am always humbled and filled with gratitude every time I stumble upon this beautiful mushroom.
Why use Chaga?
Chaga has been used for centuries in Russia and other European countries for its powerful immune boosting properties, and its positive impact on overall health and wellbeing. Indigenous cultures regarded the cultivation of Chaga as a sacred practice, believing in Chagas many medicinal benefits, with its earliest medicinal use dating back to the Khanty people of Siberia in the 13th century.
Though research is still ongoing, western medicine has recently taken a shine to Chaga, with scientific studies recognizing its benefits for several health conditions.
Potential benefits of Chaga include:
Boosts the Immune System
Prevents & Fights Cancer
Lowers Blood Sugar
Reduces Stress (adaptogenic)
Chaga is also incredibly high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is regarded as a nutrient dense super food.
Though Chaga comes with a powerful set of benefits, it is important to note that there may be contraindications with some medications and conditions. Chagas ability to lower blood sugar may be problematic for those with diabetes. It also contains proteins that prevent the blood from clotting, so if you are on blood thinners or have an upcoming surgery, it may be best to avoid Chaga. Lastly, its ability to boost the immune system may negatively affect those with autoimmune disorders. As with all things, it is best to speak with your health care provider before adding anything to your regimen.
How do you use Chaga?
Traditionally, Chaga has been dried and ground to a fine powder and used as a tea. It has a pleasant taste with earthy notes (sometimes slightly bitter) and hints of vanilla. The powder can also be added to coffee or other warm beverages such as chai.
More recently, you may find Chaga powder in capsule form, though you may not reap as many benefits using this method as Chaga’s many constituents are best extracted using hot water and/or alcohol.
Another way to consume Chaga is through a tincture. Double extraction tinctures are the best method, as they combine an alcohol extraction, followed by a hot water decoction. By combining these two methods, you are getting the most beneficial constituents from the Chaga mushroom. Tinctures are easy to store and bring with you on the go, making them the most convenient form of consumption too!
Learn more about our Double Extraction Chaga Tincture here!