Also known as the ‘Mushroom of Immortality’ and ‘Diamond of the forest’, the Chaga Mushroom is one of our favourite fungi for its taste and many health benefits. Chaga comes from an old Russian word for mushroom, it has been a traditional medicine in Northern Europe and Russia for hundreds of years.
Growing wild in the forests of Northern Europe, Asia and North America on the bark of the birch tree. The Chaga mushroom harnesses the power of these ancient trees, drawing nutrients from their inner layers.
Chaga mushroom requires the introduction of hot water or alcohol to break down its tough cellular walls to make its benefits available to us. Supplements must be made from wild-harvested Chaga grown on birch trees if they are to contain the main active components it is associated with.
Traditionally the Chaga Mushroom was used in folk medicine in Eastern Russia, boiled to make a tea that was used to treat a varied range of conditions such as viral and bacterial infections and gastro-intestinal disorders.
Why should you use it?
The Chaga mushroom is traditionally renowned for increasing vitality and supporting the immune system. It has been known to help those suffering with blood related and digestive health issues. It also features anti-microbial, anti-retroviral, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is extremely rich in antioxidants and has one of highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical absorbent Capacity) scores of any food, highlighting its ability to protect the body from free radical damage.
Its most important compounds are derived from the bark of the host birch tree on which it grows, including a large number of betulinic acid derivatives and melano-glucan complexes which have wide anti-microbial activity. It is rich in beta-glucans and polysaccharides which balance the response of the immune system. It is also rich in super-oxide dismutase (SOD)- an enzyme which reduces damage done by super-oxide which is the most common free radical in the body.
How to take it?
Adults take 2 capsules, 1-3 times a day with or without food or try adding the powder from the capsules into a smoothie. You can also make mushroom coffee using the powder.
During World War 2 Chaga mushroom was often used in Finland as a coffee alternative due to food rationing.