chaga mushroom

6 Reasons to Eat Chaga Mushroom

Are you seeking ways to boost the immune system? If yes, Chaga is your answer.

The first time I heard about Chaga, I was at a talk hosted by David Wolfe. He is a health, nutrition, eco and natural beauty expert. He’s a raw foodist that has an encyclopedic knowledge about every vitamin, supplement, herb, mineral and superfood on the planet. His knowledge is simply amazing.

David is a huge proponent of Chaga — he’s written a book all about it. And he inspired me to go on my first Chaga hunt.

What is Chaga Mushroom?

You are probably wondering what a chaga mushroom is and why you have never heard of them. Chaga is a medicinal mushroom that grows mainly on birch trees that are rich in health benefits.. So, if you live near a forest that grows birch trees, you will definitely find Chaga growing wild. Lucky you!

The word “chaga” comes from the Russian word for mushroom. The mushroom grows wild in places like northern Canada, the United States and Siberia. This simple mushroom contains some of the most powerful antioxidants ever created. Not only that, it is also loaded with polysaccharides and vitamins, making it the ultimate superfood. For centuries, the chaga mushroom has been used in herbal teas and other homemade teas to promote health and well-being.

Chaga doesn’t look like a typical mushroom. It has a hard, black, woody exterior, and its caramel brown interior is dry and fibrous. To divide a large chunk of Chaga into smaller pieces, you need a small hatchet —  it’s incredibly solid.

Some hikers and campers like to use it as kindling for a fire because it’s very dry and catches a flame fast. But I wouldn’t suggest doing this because Chaga is one of the most expensive medicinal mushrooms on the market!  Don’t set it aflame…just drink it!

Chaga Mushroom Health Benefits

Chaga mushroom is a nutrient-rich food. It is an important source of several vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin D, potassium, caesium, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium and calcium, and is also rich in fibre, which helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Here are some of the health benefits of chaga mushroom.

1. Chaga is an immune system modulator

The primary active ingredients in Chaga are the 27 different types of beta-glucans. Beta-glucans stimulate the production of macrophages: an immune system cell that devours harmful, invading pathogens. Macrophages secret cytokines: a type of chemical that increases the communication between immune cells.

The beta-glucans also stimulate the production of white blood cells that attack viruses and tumor cells.

Amazingly, Chaga is a dual directional immune system modulator. If the immune system requires a kick in the ass, Chaga sends in the troops. If, however, an autoimmune situation arises, and the immune system goes haywire, for example during an allergic reaction or asthma, Chaga can sooth the immune system and calm the turmoil down.

2. Chaga is the most powerful antioxidant

Chaga contains the highest concentration of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) than any other food on the planet.  Superoxide Dismutase is an enzyme that protects and repairs cells from the damage inflicted by free radicals. Free radicals are bad news! They cause cellular DNA and structural damage, which can cause cancer and heart disease.

Free radicals are naturally produced in the body during metabolism, and white blood cells produce them in order to combat viruses and bacteria. But the main source of free radical production is exposure to radiation, smoke, pesticides, herbicides and pollution.

The only way to neutralize free-radicals is with antioxidants. And Chaga contains more antioxidants than antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, acai berries and pomegranate seeds.

3. Chaga help normalize blood pressure and cholesterol levels

If you suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol, chaga mushrooms may be your new best friend. Studies show that the chemical characterization and biological activity of chaga mushroom extracts have been examined and have shown high antioxidant and antimicrobial activity.

4. Chaga protects the body against infection

Chaga is also a powerful natural anti-inflammatory. It is particularly useful for relieving joint diseases related to inflammation such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. It also prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, microbes, and the ever troublesome, candida.

This is mainly due to its interleukin-6 (IL-6) content. In addition to strengthening the immune system, this cytokine controls and modulates the inflammatory response. It also inhibits the expression of iNOS (Nitric Oxide Synthase) and COX-2 (Cyclooxygenase), thus reducing the activity of chemical mediators of inflammation.

The vitamins and minerals in chaga also help to reduce inflammation. Vitamin K, for example, helps to lower inflammatory markers. Magnesium is an ally against chronic inflammation.

5. Can improve physical endurance

Drink a cup of chaga tea to improve your physical endurance. A study on mice showed that the polysaccharides in the mushrooms gave the mice the ability to swim longer, giving fuel to the muscles and liver. This results in less fatigue and more energy!

6. Supports the digestive system

Chaga is a mushroom known for its benefits to the digestive system. Its fibre content and anti-inflammatory properties support its proper functioning. It reduces inflammation of the intestine in cases of ulcerative colitis or gastric ulcers. It also prevents digestion problems, gastritis, constipation, etc.

It is also beneficial for the liver and gallbladder. In particular, it promotes the production of bile, which is essential for the digestion of food, and protects the liver from the oxidation of lipids. Finally, beta-glucans stimulate the good bacteria in the intestines, thus acting as prebiotics.

What are the common forms of Chaga mushroom?

Chaga mushrooms are available in many forms including whole mushrooms, dried powders, tablets, extracts or in tincture. All of these products have their own unique set of benefits and choosing one form over another will simply depend on your personal preferences.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy fresh or dried chaga pieces. Unlike buying mushrooms such as portobellos or button mushrooms (which are actually the flourishing parts of the mushroom), the dried or fresh chaga pieces sold online or in food shops are actually parts of the mycelium. These pieces of mushroom are usually steeped in water for several minutes to create a slightly brown decoction that resembles black tea and tastes similar to coffee.

How much chaga should I consume?

How much chaga to use will depend on the type of product you are using and the effects you are looking for. Follow these basic guidelines to get an idea of how much to use:

  • For a decoction made from dried pieces, use 3-4 small pieces of mushroom approximately 3-5 cm long to make one litre of herbal tea.
  • For an infusion made with powdered chaga, use 2-3 teaspoons of powdered chaga for a single cup.
  • For chaga tinctures or extracts: follow the recommended dosage for your tincture or extract.

Are there any side effects of Chaga?

There is still a lack of conclusive information on the side effects and full safety profile of chaga. However, generally speaking, chaga mushrooms as well as their powdered or concentrated forms are generally tolerated by healthy people.

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