Chaga mushrooms, exceptional immune support
Not the prettiest of mushrooms, chaga has the appearance of charcoal with a black exterior, but it isn’t until you break it open that it reveals it’s exquisite mushroom-y interior, with a rich, rusty colour.
In fact, you could quite possibly walk past chaga, mistaking it as part of a tree. It grows on the bark of birch trees in the cold climates of Siberia, Russia, Alaska and Northern Canada, where it resembles a knobbly piece of, well, burnt wood. It forms a beautiful symbiotic relationship with Birch trees, taking the tree’s nutrients in order to grow, but also protecting the trees and helping them recover if it becomes diseased.
Birch trees were clearly onto something when they formed this two-way relationship with chaga mushrooms, as they’ve been proven to have benefits for our health too. What chaga lacks in the looks department, it more than makes up for in the medicinal stakes.
Longevity and lower rates of cancer
For thousands of years, Inuit Siberians have been grinding down carefully picked chaga mushrooms and mixing them into soups and teas. They traditionally used them because they believed that they would boost their stamina and energy levels and help them fight disease.
It’s not until relatively recent years that researchers looking at the way the Inuit Siberians (still) live, that they saw remarkable differences in their longevity compared to Inuit tribes that didn’t have chaga as a large part of their diet. Inuit Siberians live significantly longer than those not consuming chaga, and amazingly, show far lower rates of cancer.
Cancer fighting properties
Chaga contains a substance called betulinic acid, which has been proven in robust studies to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, meaning that it could well become an effective anti-cancer agent in the future.
Immunity and antioxidants
Perhaps the most well-known and studied use for chaga mushrooms is their ability to support the immune system. Chaga is high in a powerful antioxidant called superoxide dismutase which is excellent at neutralising free radical damage that can lead to disease. What’s more, such high levels (higher than green, leafy vegetables and fruit) of antioxidants can slow down the ageing process too!
As well as antioxidant prowess, chaga also has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, helping to protect the body from chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, heart disease and strokes.
Taking charge with chaga
Look for chaga extracts containing the most beneficial part of the chaga, the fruiting body. The daily suggested amount is 1-2g per day.