What Is Chaga Mushroom?
Chaga has been consumed for centuries in the East, most typically as tea, where its health benefits are well established. More recently, chaga has been gaining popularity in the West, where its numerous health benefits are now being recognized by many health gurus. Technically, chaga is a highly-concentrated black mass of mycelium that protrudes from birch trees infected with parasitic–but non-toxic–fungus Inonotus Obliquus. The dark, hard and cracked exterior, which often appears like burnt charcoal, is called the sclerotium. The interior has a rusty yellow brown color.
Chaga is powerful, because it contains the nutrients—the force of actual trees. Because of their special, biologically potent substances, trees live long, far longer than herbs. Some trees live as long as 10,000 years or more. Thus, they are the most powerful living beings in the world. Concentrating this power, chaga contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals, and enzymes. It is also one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid, and this vitamin is needed by the adrenal glands as well as digestive organs. It also contains riboflavin and niacin in significant amounts.
In particular, it is highly rich in special phenols which are pigment-like. These phenolic compounds are known as chromogenic complex. Chaga can be up to 30% chromogenic complex by weight. The chromogenic complex is highly protective for all tissues and is only found in chaga. In the cream base this chromogenic complex is hightly protective of the skin. Rubbed on the skin it even helps people develop a tan, because it contains the pigment melanin, the same pigment responsible for dark-colored skin.
Chaga contains wild-source minerals and is particularly high in copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iron. Yet, its most potent ingredient is a special substance known as superoxide dismutase (SOD). This is an enzyme with great potency. Its function is to halt oxidation, especially the toxicity of a free radical known as singlet oxygen. This is the type of oxygen which is responsible for oxidizing and damaging the tissues, which results in aging.
The most popular way to consume chaga is by drinking a delicious cup of chaga tea. Below is my favorite simple chaga tea recipe for you to try at home.
- Break the whole chaga into roughly 10g chunks.
- Grind one chunk into powder using a blender or coffee grinder.
- Place one teaspoon (two if you like a stronger tea) into a tea infuser.
- Place the tea infuser into your favorite large mug and pour in about 400 ml of hot water.
- Leave the chaga and hot water steeping for at least 5 minutes, but the longer the better to extract more of the bioactive ingredients.
- Remove the infuser from the mug and add maple syrup or honey to taste.