The Chaga mushroom – a revered remedy in the East and a growing savior in the West.
Known by Siberians as the “Gift from God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality,” humans have used this vibrant growth to support health for thousands of years. The Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” while the Chinese deem it “King of Plants.”
Unlike most mushrooms Chaga is as hard as wood. Chaga looks nothing like other mushrooms and actually has a symbiotic relationship with the trees on which they grow, often helping to heal the tree.
Chaga strengthens the tree by producing potent phytochemicals; including sterols, phenols, and enzymes. Researchers have inoculated sick trees with chaga to strengthen them and humans can also benefit by consuming these forest-source phytochemicals and nutrients.
The greatest benefit chaga provides us is a powerful boost to the immune system.
Chaga is loaded with a unique compound called beta glucans, which help balance the response of the body’s immune system, meaning it helps boost your immune system when necessary during times of sickness, but also slows it down if it becomes over active.
Beta glucans stimulate the activity of macrophages,versatile immune cells that ingest and demolish invading threats to the body and stimulate other immune cells to attack. Macrophages also release chemicals that when secreted enable immune cells to communicate with one another.
Additionally, beta glucans stimulate lethal white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses, and release chemicals to destroy them.
Chaga Mushrooms Are An Antioxidant Powerhouse
Chaga is known to have one of the highest ORAC scores (the measure of antioxidant potency) on the planet.
Chaga is packed with superoxide dismutase (SOD), an important enzyme that functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body.
SOD performs vital anti-aging functions by neutralizing oxygen free radicals, preventing oxidative damage to cells and tissues. In studies, low tissue levels of SOD have been associated with both a decline in overall health and longevity.
SOD acts as a “bodyguard” that essentially protects against DNA damage and helps to reduce the work load placed on the immune system.
SOD occurs naturally in the body but as we age our levels decline and this is when outside sources of SOD become essential.
Chaga mushrooms are also excellent sources of the antioxidant melanin, which gives Chaga it’s dark black exterior color.
Melanin is the same compound that makes up the main pigment in human skin, the retina of the eye, and the pigment-bearing neurons within the brain stem.
According to David Wolfe, “Having a nutritional source of melanin such as chaga lightens the body’s load of nutrient-demanding processes involved in melanogenesis (formation of melanin). Melanin supplementation via chaga consumption can enhance, beautify and protect the skin from sun damage and is additionally beneficial for the eyes and hair.”
Betulinic Acid – A Therapeutic Agent
Betulin and betulinic acid are powerful therapeutic agents currently being researched for their effects on supporting healthy cholesterol levels, fighting cancer cells, and staving off viruses.
Betulinic acid in Chaga induces apoptosis (cell death) through its direct effects on the mitochondria and once inside cancer cells is believed to influence cell death within the tumor itself.
Research originating in Poland suggests betulinic acid is also activated by and drawn to the lower pH of the tumorous tissues.
Mushroom mycologist Paul Stamets writes that the betulin concentrations in Chaga have shown promise in treating malignant melanoma, completely inhibiting tumors implanted in mice, causing apoptosis of cancerous cells. The extracts are also beneficial as an antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. In addition, they are a known immune enhancer as well as a liver tonic (Stamets 2005).
How to Consume Chaga
Chaga is available in several forms, including extracted tinctures, a chaga-birch bark tea, ready to drink bottled chaga, face and body creams, or you can buy full Chaga mushrooms yourself and choose how you go about ingesting them.
Our favorite tincture comes from the company Surthrival in 1:25 ratio Chaga extract.
Their Chaga extract, which uses wild-harvested mushrooms from New England, goes under a dual extraction using organic menstruum. The tincture is bottled in miron glass which blocks the complete spectrum of visible light with the exception of the violet part.
At the same time it allows a certain part to be permeable for radiation in the spectral range of UV-A, and infra red light.
This unique combination offers optimal protection against the ageing processes that are released by visible light, thus lengthening durability and potency of products.
Miron Glass “Preserved by the bottle not by Toxins"
If you’re looking for full Chaga chunks than we recommend a company by the name of VIGR Lifestyles based out of Regina Canada.
VIGR Lifestyles sources the best raw sustainably hand-picked chaga by experienced long time hunters from birch trees in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada.
Chaga is just one of many mushrooms starting to permeate throughout Western Culture with potent health benefits.
These gifts from nature are some of the most amazing substances on earth and further research will only popularize their power to the general public, ultimately aiding in the cures of many diseases.