What Is Chaga?
In the depths of the boreal forests, surrounded by hundreds of trees, you will find the King of Mushrooms. Originating from the Russian word, Tschaga, this black and woody endophytic fungus, scientifically known as Inonotus Obliquus, has been the subject of legends and myth about immortal health and longevity. Growing primarily on the birch tree (of all kinds), Chaga can live over 25 years before it consumes the tree. It’s medicinal properties are so vast and powerful that some scientists think the mushroom spores came from space. While it’s been known in Eastern medicine for thousands of years, Chaga is gaining popularity in the West and is rapidly growing as an anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory superfood.
The mycelium takes root in the heartwood of the tree. It often forms in wounded spots, like a cracked branch, or a bear scratch. Even a woodpecker can introduce an area for colonization.
Technically a Sclerotium, this mycelial body of the Chaga is often found 6' above the ground. Predominantly found in older growth areas of yellow and white birch, Chaga—aka the Mushroom of Immortality—likes trees with moisture.
In case you don't know, here's a list of what else Chaga is called:
Bai Hua Rong
King Of The Mushrooms
Mushroom Of Immortality
There's a reason the Japanese name for chaga translates to "Diamond of the Forest" or the Russian translation, "Gift from God". Mycelial theorists even believe that fungal spores may have actually traveled hundreds of thousands of light years to arrive at our little blue planet.
INDEED A JOURNEY OF EPIC PROPORTIONS, BUT HOW DID CHAGA EARN SUCH A NAME?
Simply put, Chaga has countless uses and applications. From a fire starter to a plant fertilizer, to skin conditions to cancers, people have said this mushroom cures a plethora of illnesses... and beyond.
DISCLAIMER: No clinical studies have been conducted to prove whether or not Chaga can treat cancer, heart disease, or diabetes
What's In It That Makes It So Damn Good For You?
No matter who you are, whether you are a 300lb body builder or a college student trying to recover from a night of drinking, you will benefit from Chaga. There are over 250 phytonutrients. Among the benefits of phytonutrients are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Phytonutrients may also enhance immunity and intercellular communication, repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and alter estrogen metabolism.It's the life-force that is released to your body when you drink it. We all need it.
The body is your best doctor. It tries to recover from oxidative stress and inflammation constantly. It needs to have a rich surplus of electrons to regenerate. That natural "Cola" color of the Chaga contains some of the strongest antioxidants known to mankind. Here's the powerhouse list with links for more information:
Melanin: This black pigment is the reason our skin gets dark from sun exposure, and consuming it has a massive amount of benefit. Not only will it help your skin to recover from light stress, dissipating over 99.9% of UV radiation. This will increase the longevity of your cells, and people often report that drinking Chaga over time eliminates skin wrinkles.
Pineal Gland activation: Aids in decalcifying the pineal gland which helps to clear brain fog and greatly enhance focus.
Superoxide Dismuatase (SOD): SOD has been shown to reduce heavy metal toxicity and clear up calcification of the arteries. It acts to eliminate (O2-) which is a reactive oxygen species generated by every cell in the body. SOD takes that an converts it into oxygen.
Polyphenols: One reason people eat blueberries and things with color is because they are told they contain healthy antioxidants. In the blueberry, one of the main compounds is Ellagic acid, which is a polyphenol (meaning many hydroxyl groups). Chaga has a huge amount of these type of polyphenols, in fact, the King of Mushrooms might be the #1 Super-Food for the ORAC score.
In the plant kingdom, the most beneficial biological agents come as polysaccharides. They are long chained so they don't break down into sugar, but often come with some very powerful effects such as lowering cholesterol and suppressing tumor growth.
Beta-Glucans: One of the mushroom’s abilities is to generate these polysaccharides called Beta-Glucans (1-3 β-glucans) They effectively attach to cholesterol and make it water soluble for use in the cell. Not just that, but they can enter the skin tissue and add moisture and effectively treat skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. In addition, they've been shown to increase our immune response and fight off colds and viruses.
Endo/Hetero-Polysaccharides: Unlike most starches, these polysaccharides are not broken down into sugar. They have special function in the body. Studies are showing that these molecules act as immune stimulators, upregulating antibodies and with indirectly inhibiting cancer growths. Hetero-polysaccharides is a diverse class of macromolecules with many function, but they are apart of the cellular wall, helping to rebuild tissues and structure water in the body.
Taking a step back , we need to realize that Chaga is a living body. It takes in oxygen, and respires CO2 - just like animals. While we can attribute some of the health benefits to certain nutrients, we know that Chaga itself was designed by Nature to contain all these compounds and to be ingested as whole.
PHYTOSTEROLS AND TRITERPENES
For the non-science folks, this family of compounds can be thought of as the "sticky stuff". These molecules are not as water soluble as the polysaccharides, but provide a different, yet substantial health benefit. These molecules are best extracted in alcohol, which is why we conduct a dual extraction process to deliver the most nutrients from the Chaga.
Lanosterol /Ergosterol: It will be to the delight of the human race that Chaga contains lanosterol, a precursor for essential beneficial hormones. While the body can synthesize it, consuming exogenously provides enhanced supplemental intake. One study found that lanosterol helps reverse protein aggregation in cataracts. As some may now, ergosterol is the pre-cursor to vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
Betulinic Acid: This name is gaining popularity in the medical community. Studies are looking toward Betulinic acid as a powerful immunomodulator, anti-inflammatory, anti-HIV and anti-retroviral. It is a potent inhibitor of human melanoma. Birch bark contains 22% Betulin which isn't as bioavaible as betulinic acid which Chaga contains in abundance.
Inositol: A sugar-like water-soluble substance, inositol is classified as a member of the B-complex vitamin and is an essential component of cellular membranes; phosphatidyl inositols function as regulators of cell membrane transportthus interact with a wide variety of hormonal and regulatory events within the cells. Inositol also helps lower blood and tissue lipid levels; facilitates the production of arachadonic acid; is needed for proper function of the internal organs; contributes to energy metabolism; enhances brain function due to its importance in rebuilding the myelin sheath (the protective coating of the nervous system).
In so many ways our bodies require a constant intake of minerals. It serves a vital function in the ability to create life and build tissue, bone, nerve, muscle, and skin. They are apart of the transcription process and essential cofactors for enzymes and hormones throughout the body; creating electrical stability in the body and providing lots of energy to your cells.