Chaga (inonotus obliquus) is a fungal parasite found on a birch tree. You can easily recognize it because it looks similar to burnt-out rough bark. It grows in birch forests throughout Northern and Eastern Europe, Russia (especially in Siberia), and Korea. This mushroom is a known remedy for thousands of years all over Eurasia. Because of its amazing health properties, it is also known as “Mushroom of Immortality” and the “Gift from God” among many Siberians.
Chaga has a few other interesting names in different regions – Chinese people call it the “King of Plants” while Japanese refer to it as the “Diamond of the Forest”. All these names suggest that we are talking about a powerful plant. It is an interesting fact, that you can find Chaga in North America too, but unfortunately, both American native people and modern Americans are not aware of the amazing healing properties of this fungus.
There is a good reason why this mushroom is called the mushroom of immortality. According to several studies, this is the food with the highest level of antioxidants (important substances especially when it comes to fighting free radicals) and the highest level of superoxide dismutase (another highly efficient “cleaner” of free radicals).
In order to understand how Chaga can be so efficient and healthy, we should take a look at its constituents – different types of acids – amino, betulinic, pantothenic, trametenolic, and vanillic acid; beta-glucans, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins – B1, B2, B3, D2, K, etc. The list is very long and it is amazing how so many useful ingredients can be found in a mushroom.
Some of these precious biologically active substances can be found only in this plant. Chaga has the ability to absorb all the useful things that come from nature. It is using the power of trees, which sometimes live for thousands of years. Thanks to its specific parasitic abilities, Chaga can transform these substances found in trees into something that people can eat.
Every substance found in Chaga can find its use in the human body. However, most of the healing properties of this incredible fungus come from betulinic acid. It is good to point out that Chaga can sometimes be found on some other trees (other than birch trees) but only those found on birch trees contain betulinic acid. This acid is known for its antitumor activity especially when it is used together with beta-glucans (another compound found in Chaga).
Other Benefits of Chaga Mushroom
- Antibacterial – Chaga eliminates the reproduction of bacteria by inhibiting growth or replication.
- Anti-HIV – According to a scientific study revealed in The Pharmacological Potential of Mushrooms Chaga can ease the symptoms of HIV.
- Anti-inflammatory – People suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory diseases and conditions find Chaga to be very helpful because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Chaga is often called a natural painkiller.
- Adaptogen – Chaga is a powerful adaptogen. This means that this incredible mushroom acts against stress, which is the number one cause of most diseases. The Soviet government has allowed their athletes and astronauts to use adaptogen including Chaga in order to improve their physical and mental abilities.
- Anti-Candida – One of the organs that benefit the most from Chaga is the liver. Since the work of the liver is significantly improved with regular Chaga consumption, Candida toxins are successfully processed and removed from the body.
- The active components of Chaga also have antioxidant, antiviral, analgesic, and immune-stimulatory properties. Many treatments used for treating hair loss, allergies, asthma, diabetes, psoriasis include Chaga.
How To Prepare Wild Chaga Mushroom Tea
You can find Chaga mushrooms in two ways. You can either harvest one in a forest (this is difficult because as we have mentioned before they grow only in some parts of the Northern hemisphere), you can buy them in a store or on amazon.com.
It is good to mention that you should not cut pieces from the birch tree in order to get the mushroom because in this way the whole tree might dry. Cut the Chaga gently, remember the spot where you got the mushroom, and in few years, you can expect to find another mushroom at the same place.
Preparation of Chaga mushroom tea is relatively easy.
- Cut few small slices of Chaga and put them in a pot.
- Take 8 cups (2 liters) of filtered water and pour them into the pot. Cover the pot.
- The solution should be boiled for around one minute (I am still not sure if raw foodists drink hot water if not, you can use warm water).
- After that, reduce the heat, remove the cover and let it simmer for around one hour.
- Place the cover back and simmer for one more hour.
- In the end, you will get 4 cups (1 liter) of Chaga tea.
Some might find this process a little bit time-consuming but the benefits that this amazing mushroom tea brings will make you forget the time you’ve spent in the process of preparation. You will be surprised not only by these benefits but also by the beautiful taste, which is similar to vanilla-flavored black tea. A small amount of sugar or sweeteners will not affect its properties but you probably will not need to use them because the tea is very tasty.