CHAGA- The immune boosting superfood!
You may have been hearing a lot of buzz about Chaga lately but what exactly is it and what does it do?
Chaga (inonotus obliquus) is a fungus that grows on birch trees. It’s not the prettiest to look at, however this medicinal mushroom is known as the “King of all Antioxidants”, topping all other antioxidants. You can find chaga while walking through northern forests in Canada, the northern U.S., Russia, and parts of Northern China. It looks like encrusted black formations on wounded or dying birch trees. Chaga grows out of remaining tree cavities after storms or other impacts break branches – as if to cover the tree’s wounds and protect it from invading micro-organisms.
Chaga is an ancient remedy- the first verifiable mentions of Chaga are from Russia in the 16th century. It was popular among hunters and foresters since it was known to alleviate hunger, remove tiredness, increase work capacity, and improve general tone.
So why is this fungus so good for us? Chaga mushroom is a powerful adaptogen. Adaptogens help to bring the body back into balance and has beneficial effects on the nervous system, immune system, GI tract, cardiovascular system, and endocrine system. By supporting the body and mind in these ways, adaptogens help us cope with stress, adrenal burnout, stay healthy during cold and flu season, fight cancer, and lifts us out of depression. Chaga also has immune modulating properties that makes it helpful in treating auto-immune diseases. It has high levels of antioxidants that protect cells from damaging free radicals. Studies have shown extracts of Chaga contain anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal activity. That is quite an impressive list!
Chaga has an earthy sweetness to it. It makes a mild & pleasant drink and you can enjoy it hot or cold, or even add it to your smoothie, coffee, & other drinks. You can drink it daily for maximum healing and health promoting benefits.
Look for Chaga in one of its 3 main forms:
1. Dried chaga- is the raw harvested chaga broken down into chunks and then dried. The dried chunks are used to make chaga tea or a tincture. Brew 1-2 chunks in 1-1.5L of hot but not boiling water for 6-8 hours
2. Raw powder/tea- is simply the chunks ground down and then used to make a tea- brew 1 tsp in 1L of hot water for 2-4 hours.
3. Dual extract- is the most expensive but has major advantages over the other forms of chaga because you receive all the healthy benefits of both the water soluble, and non-water soluble bioactive ingredients. With the dried chunks and powder you can only get the water-soluble ingredients.