Facts about Chaga Mushroom
Where does Chaga Mushroom come from?
The Chaga mushroom is a Parasitic like plant that Thrives and grows on birch trees older then 40 years throughout the northern hemisphere. It resembles a dark clump of dirt more than a mushroom, but is distinguished from other growths by its orange tissue.
Chaga mushrooms are fairly common in climates with colder winters. Chaga grows on all types of birch trees, and looks like a charred piece of wood cannibalising its host tree. Chaga has shown very promising results in cancer studies, and has shown to cause a 60% reduction in tumor size in mice with cancer. There are limited human trials regarding Chaga and cancer treatment, but the available information is quite promising; Chaga may be a very effective alternative cancer treatment. Studies have shown that Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc4946216/
A Nutrient Rich Superfood Adaptogen
With the emergence of Chaga as a curative herb, health practitioners have discovered that it can assist in controlling stress and anxiety among human beings. In fact, Chaga is highly regarded as an effective herbal adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbal components that control the adrenal system of the body. They manage how the bodily hormones react to anxiety and stressful situations. They help the body to adapt or cope with anxiety by fighting fatigue caused by stress. Although the results might not be instant, adaptogens are ideal stress relievers because of their natural attributes. Health experts and practitioners do not hide their preference for herbal adaptogens, with Chaga being among the most recommended.
Adaptogens play an important role in maintaining mental stability. Anxiety and stress can have a harmful impact on anyone’s life, especially if left untreated. Most individuals suffering from uncontrollable stress often tend to expect the worst. They cannot stop thinking negatively about their close family members, health condition, work or social status. This unwarranted cause of concern is often blown out of proportion and unrealistic, but anxiety sufferers never realize this. The good thing is that Chaga as an adaptogen is effective in relieving this unwarranted stress. Moreover, Chaga contains minerals that boost mental health and this goes a long way in alleviating mental stress.
Chaga Mushroom is an Immune System Optimizer
As an adaptogen, Chaga balances our immune response and maintains optimal homeostasis. It can slow our bodies’ autoimmune responses down when it’s overactive and heightens its functioning when otherwise. In other words, Chaga educates our immune system and balances it. In this modern society where autoimmune disorders, commonly caused by stress, are a common health issue, this immune tonic herb is greatly beneficial!
Stimulates the Immune System
Cytokines are the immune system’s chemical messengers. They play an extremely important role in stimulating white blood cells, which are the immune system’s first line of defense against many different illnesses. The mushroom’s polysaccharides, beta glucans, and betulinic acid detoxify blood and liver. They also stimulate stem cells. Furthermore, they reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, and some other degenerative diseases.
When consumed, chaga promotes the formation of beneficial cytokines, which are essential for fighting off harmful bacteria or viruses (14).
Compounds found in chaga have been found to help the immune system differentiate between the body’s cells and foreign cells.
Chaga Mushroom is an Anti-Viral
When it comes to preventing viruses, chaga makes a bold statement. A study from Russia published in 2014 showed that chaga mushroom extract protected a cell culture from the cytotoxic effects of a herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) infection (11)
The anti-viral activity of chaga has also shown promising results against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In 2015, scientists from the Vector Research Institute in southwestern Siberia found that extracts of chaga demonstrated toxic effects against HIV type 1.
The antiviral effect, the researchers found, was due to the strong presence of betulinic acid, which possesses both anti-inflammatory and antiretroviral properties. Because of this, the researchers theorized that it could successfully be used to treat HIV infections and other similar conditions. “
Chaga Mushroom is a powerful anti-aging too
High levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in chaga make it a popular mushroom for slowing down the aging process and helping you look your best. SOD is an enzyme that protects against oxide damage – one of the main processes that ages us. By neutralizing free radicals, SOD helps slow visible effects of aging, such as wrinkles, as well as more physical effects like atherosclerosis, stroke and arthritis.
Chaga was also found to restore cognitive dysfunction in animal models by increasing levels of glutathione (another major antioxidant) and SOD. The result was enhanced cognitive function, specifically learning and memory, as measured by two tests. Their results suggest that oxidative stress plays a role in improved brain function, and that chaga can improve aspects of cognition (17).
Cardiovascular System Support
When it comes to the heart, chaga provides some serious support. As I’ve outlined above, chaga is high in the enzyme and super-antioxidant SOD, which combats the oxidative stress often responsible for high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more prone to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular issues.
Chaga also contains the highest source of antioxidants of any food—that’s more than açai and chocolate. Additionally, it gives a great dose of zinc and melanin. With all things considered, this mushroom is the most powerful medicinal mushroom ally for your skin
As one of the most antioxidant-rich food sources on the planet, chaga is truly remarkable at nurturing and protecting the body. It is packed with high levels of naturally-occurring Vitamin B complex, and is rich in more than 215 phytonutrients, beta-glucans, saponins, amino acids, betulinic acids and many other soluble minerals.
- B-complex vitamins
- vitamin D
- amino acids
The source of chaga mushroom nutrients come from the very tree they grow on – birch trees! Chaga mushrooms quite literally extract their nutrients from living birch trees instead of the soil. This is also why chaga is so densely concentrated with betulinic acid, as this compound comes from birch trees themselves.
This is another reason why you should always source your chaga that comes from birch trees (otherwise known as wild chaga). Many companies out there grow chaga on cheap substrates that contain little to no nutrients. If the chaga does not come from decades of growing on a birch tree (and yes – it takes decades for these mushrooms to grow), you can be rest assured that that chaga does not contain a rich source of betulinic acid – one of the most important phytonutrients found in wild chaga.
How to Use Chaga Mushrooms
To take full advantage of the chaga mushroom benefits outlined above, you’ll want to make sure you’re preparing and using the mushroom in the proper way.
The most common way people consume chaga is by preparing it into a tea. You can do this with chaga mushroom chunks, or chaga that has been ground into a fine powder. It tastes almost like you’re drinking coffee – it is very dark once brewed and has a very earthy/grounding feeling to it.