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Benefits of Chaga Mushroom

Chaga mushrooms are a superfood that is gaining popularity in North America. The scientific name of this medicinal mushroom is Inonotus obliquus. I first learned about the powers of this “mushroom” in nutrition school. Not only is chaga an amazing superfood, it tastes delicious as a tea, too! 

Here is a summary of the health benefits, read the full article to learn more.

  • nutrient dense
  • adaptogenic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-oxidative
  • anti-cancer
  • anti-aging
  • immune boosting

Chaga isn’t actually a mushroom, but a parasitic fungus that grows on the barks of trees. It’s dense and woody with a black, burnt appearance. It grows naturally in northern climates on the bark of birch trees, but also elm, alter or beech trees. This slow growing mushroom obtains nutrients from the tree which become available to us when we drink chaga teas or tinctures.

Chaga-mushroom

Image Source

Interestingly, a lot of the scientific research available was done in Korea! How wonderful is it that this healing mushroom is found locally. I have seen it available for sale online such websites as gmarket. I haven’t searched too much in stores for chaga as I brought some from Canada with me when I moved here. I did stumble across a giant box in ORGA (their website is only available in Korean), but it was very expensive. You could purchase the box and divide it amongst family and friends.

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This is the package of chaga that I brought from Canada. A package this size (100g) of good quality chaga is around $20 Canadian dollars.

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Benefits

Nutrient Dense

  • Since chaga is a nutrient dense mushroom, a small amount is all that is needed to provide results. since nutrient-dense foods contain a large amount of nutrients. This is why they are easy to incorporate into the diet. That’s the beauty of medicinal mushrooms, only a small amount is required.

Adaptogenic

  • Adaptogens are natural products that have the properties of helping our bodies adapt to mental stress, physical stress or changes in our environment. They basically help to normalize our body processes by managing our bodies hormonal responses. Adaptogens can also help our bodies cope with anxiety and fight fatigue.
  • Adaptogens could be a great alternative to caffeinated beverages. They can give us a boost of energy without the crash because they aren’t over stimulating our bodies.
  • Fall and spring are examples of times when we may feel the need to incorporate some adaptogenic foods into our diets. Chaga tea is an easy and comforting way to intake these medicinal plants because tea is also warming and soothing.

Anti-Inflammatory

  • Inflammation is a condition where the immune cells of our immune system become overactive. Our body systems are on high alert and over time it can contribute to damage in the body. Inflammation is present in every major disease state so it is definitely something to be taken seriously. Reducing the inflammation in our bodies is very important.

Anti-oxidative

  • Anti-oxidants are molecules that protect cells against free radical activity. Free radicals cause damage to body cells by stealing their electrons. This process is also known as oxidative damage. Anti-oxidants are also knows as electron donors since they generously donate an electron, sparing the free radical from stealing electrons from body tissues. Free radical damage is significant because it is implicated in the development of several chronic diseases including atherosclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation and cancer. 
  • Chaga mushroom is a potent anti-oxidant meaning that is is powerful force against oxidative damage. 

Anti-Cancer

  • Diets rich in antioxidants work to delay or prevent cancer development.
  • Studies showing how medicinal mushrooms are protective against tumors discovered that the polysaccharide content of the mushrooms, specifically beta-glucans, work to prevent tumor formation by enhancing cellular immunity. 

Anti-Aging

  • The anti-aging effect of chaga is due to its anti-oxidant content. Free radicals contribute to aging by damaging tissue cells.

Immune Boosting

  • Regulating our immune system is important for an appropriate response against foreign invaders. A weak immune system means the body is more susceptible to illnesses.

How to prepare

If your chaga is not already broken into small, pea-sized pieces, break apart. 

Add 4 Tbsp of chaga for every 1 litre of water used

Add water and chaga to a pot and boil for 15 minutes to make a tonic tea, or longer if you want it to become more potent. You will need to monitor water levels, adding more when necessary.

Chaga can be used up to 3 times, or until the water no longer becomes dark, before discarding.

It is best to store used chaga pieces in the freezer between uses.

The taste is a little earthy but mild. You can add additional spices to your liking.

Enjoy

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Check out this awesome info graphic from chagaHQ.com

chaga_mushroom_infographic

Sources

  1. chagaknowledge.com
  2. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yoo_Park/publication/8101177_Chaga_mushroom_extract_inhibits_oxidative_DNA_damage_in_human_lymphocytes_as_assessed_by_comet_assay/links/0912f510d28d872da4000000.pdf
  3. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Pennie_Taylor2/publication/271892533_The_role_of_edible_mushrooms_in_health_Evaluation_of_the_evidence/links/54d8718d0cf25013d03df2d5.pdf
  4. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/chaga-mushroom-the-immune-boosting-superfood/
  5. http://ww.mushroomhunter.net/chaga%20pdf/New%20Antioxidant%20polyphenols%20from%20the%20medicinal%20mushroom%20Inonotus%20obliquus.pdf
  6. chagaHQ.com
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