Chaga mushrooms (aka black mass, conk or birch canker polypore) are a fungus that grows on birch trees in subarctic regions of all northern countries. The inside is orange and soft, but it has a black and crusty outside; in fact, if you live in such an area, you may have unwittingly seen it growing on birch trees before and wondered why there was a mass of burnt wood on the tree. That’s chaga! Siberian chaga is considered the best in the world as it is cultivated from the pristine wilds of the Sayan Siberian Mountains.
Sayan Siberian chaga is harvested once it has reached full maturity after 20 years (unlike many other sources and types), giving the richest nutrient profile. Chemical analyses have been done on various sources and types of chaga and found the Siberian one to be the most potent.
What Does Chaga Do For You?
Chaga was first documented in traditional Chinese medicine thousands of years ago, and it has been used in traditional medicines for hundreds of years in Russia, Korea, Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Siberian chaga can contain as many as 200 or more nutrients including:
- amino acids
- polysaccharides including beta-glucans
- vitamins A, Bs, C, D, E and K
- minerals such as potassium, rubidium, cesium, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium and calcium
What Are the Main Medical Uses of Chaga?
Chaga is a fantastic superfood or supplement to add to your daily diet to benefit your overall health, improve your body’s function under stress, and boost your immunity against colds, the flu and other similar illnesses. Modern scientific evidence is most promising for its anticancer activity, for balancing blood sugar, boosting immunity, supporting heart health, reducing inflammation, and reducing the harmful effects of stress. It may also be an excellent natural adjunct to your current treatment regimen with proper medical supervision.
Here are its main uses:
Chaga is a tonic or adaptogen that helps balance body functions, especially when it comes to the immune system. It boosts energy and enhances performance under stress.
One of the highlights of chaga is its ability to ramp up the immune system to help fight off colds and the flu, while calming the immune system in terms of chronic inflammation and disease.
Chaga is packed with antioxidant power. It’s even been found to have more antioxidant power than acai! This makes it a powerful superfood for overall health.
Most of the studies done on chaga have focused on its ability to promote healthy cell growth. It’s been shown in animal studies to reduce tumor growth and slow the progression of abnormal cell growth while benefiting (rather than harming) healthy cells.
Blood sugar balance
Lowering blood sugar and improving insulin resistance is another area in which chaga has shown promising study results.
Chaga can improve your entire cholesterol profile, lowering LDLs and triglycerides and increasing HDLs, and may help improve blood pressure.
Because chaga is so rich in nutrients, people take it for many other purposes such as:
- Liver problems
- Stomach issues
- Mental health, including boosting mood and mental activity
How to Use Chaga
Chaga can be consumed or applied in several different ways to enjoy all his beneficial powers. Here are the principal ones.
Chaga is traditionally used as a tea or a hot water extract made from chaga chunks or powdered chaga. The immune-boosting polyphenols and polysaccharides in chaga dissolve in water, so drinking it as a tea is a great way to benefit from these properties. Chaga tea has more potent antioxidant activity than other popular mushroom teas as confirmed by Japanese studies. Most scientific studies have been done using a water extract. This is a convenient way to benefit from chaga, especially if you enjoy tea.
A chaga tincture is an alcohol extract. The alcohol extracts components that don’t dissolve in water such as essential oils, alkaloids and resins from the chaga, making them more available for absorption. The alcohol further enhances your body’s absorption of nutrients in the tincture. This is a cost-effective way to take chaga if you don’t want to take it every day and you want it to last a long time, as a Sayan chaga tincture dosage is just 3 tablespoons once per week. Consuming fermented foods is also beneficial for the digestive tract.
When purchasing chaga chunks, the chunks should retain as much of the black crust as possible since it’s rich in nutrients and the most beneficial part of the mushroom. Chunks are best used for tea or made into a tincture. Powdered chaga is convenient as it can be made into tea, added to other food like smoothies, or taken in capsule form.
Is Chaga Safe to Use?
Chaga is very safe and has been used for hundreds of years; however, there might be certain circumstances in which you should consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before use.