Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus that grows almost exclusively on the outside of birch trees in very cold climates, such as Siberia.
Although chaga is often referred to as a mushroom yet in reality it is a fungus or a parasite of the birch trees it grows on, absorbing nutrients from it and typically killing it in around 20 years. That is why chaga is one of the most nutrient-dense mushrooms on the planet.
Although chaga can be easily harvested from the outside of the birch tree, it doesn’t stop its regrowth as part of it is left inside the tree and will slowly regrow in the same place and reach its original size years later.
Raw and unprocessed chaga is indigestible by human digestive tract because we lack the enzyme chitinase, which is required for digesting the chitin cell wall (in which the bioactive compounds are found). For this reason chaga must be pulverised first in order to be used internally.
Unfortunately, the antioxidant properties of chaga can vary significantly based on the source. ORAC values can range from 5,000 to 150,000 depending on the manufacturer.
The Coffee Substitute that is Super Healthy for You
By Stephanie Relfe
Chaga is the best discovery I have made for years! It is SO GOOD FOR YOU! And it is DELICIOUS! Add a drop of raw honey and a dash of organic cream (or almond milk) to hot water and it tastes like coffee. Add more cream and honey and it tastes like chocolate. Make it with hot almond milk, cream and honey, and no water, and it tastes very, very like hot chocolate.
Chaga (scientific name: Inonotus obliquus) is an incredible food that only grows in cold climates, and is most potent when exposed to temperatures under -40°F. Siberian Chaga is the most powerful antioxidant in its class, and has by FAR the highest antioxidant concentration of any known natural food!
The World’s Highest Source of Antioxidants
The FDA has recommended that people should increase their antioxidant consumption to 7000 ORAC units a day to help lower their risk of Cancer. ORAC stands for “Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity”. This is a scale that measures the amount of free oxygen radicals in your body that a food or supplement can absorb. Free oxygen radicals are unavoidably formed in our body from normal daily living, stress, electricity, EMF, pollution, sun exposure, toxic chemicals, smoking, food, toxins etc. These free radicals destroy our cellular structure, cause aging and make us more vulnerable to disease.
According to the University’s research the higher the ORAC value, the more beneficial it is for the body. Research also shows that eating foods with high ORAC value help protect against age related memory loss. Chaga has the highest reported ORAC score in natural foods.
Top ORAC fruits and vegetables per 100 – Tufts University
Dr. Cass Ingram raves about Chaga in his book “The Cure is in the Forest“. Most of the information in this article is from that book.
Ingram describes how Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch trees. Birch trees have amazing healing properties, especially in the pulverized white birch bark. Trees are BIG and VERY LONG LIVED. All tree mushrooms, including shiitake, oyster and reishi, extract the power and strength of trees, and then transfer this power to humans who eat them. But Chaga is the king of tree mushrooms. It feeds on and therefore concentrates the therapeutic compounds found in birch trees. Chaga actually helps the tree because it mostly grows on wounds and weak spots, and covers them for the tree. It does, however, eventually kill the tree, but only when the tree is very mature and at the end of its life.
High SOD Levels reduce Aging
Perhaps the most important part of Chaga is it’s super high levels of SOD (superoxide dismutase). This is one of the most powerful antioxidative enzymes known. SOD is essential for the function of all human cells. If SOD is not present, the body degenerates. SOD is rarely found in any edible substance. This enzyme acts to absorb noxious free radicals before they can damage the body. Chaga contains 25 to 50 times more SOD than other medicinal mushrooms. It is the top source of this enzyme. SOD is crucial for halting tissue damage. This damage is the result of aberrant forms of oxygen, which are formed from normal cellular processes. SOD converts dangerous forms of oxygen, the kind which can damage or destroy cells, to the kind of oxygen which we breath.
It is this destruction of cells which causes aging (including memory loss). Many substances have been studied for their effect on longevity. No one agrees on the findings except for one thing – that SOD levels are crucial. R. Cutler found that animals with the highest levels of SOD are the longest lived. Humans have the highest levels of mammals, and they are the longest lived. Chimpanzees have half our level of SOD, and they live half as long as us. Tortoises have the highest levels of SOD and are the longest living animals.
The Siberians believe that Chaga is a secret for long life and physical stamina. Many people in Siberia live to be well over 100. This is a significant achievement when one considers the incredibly harsh climate in Siberia. In contrast, consider the Inuit, who lived to be on average no older than the mid-50s. The Inuit do not have Chaga, as the Siberians do.
SOD is 3,500 times more potent than vitamin C at reducing superoxide radicals. The best dietary sources of SOD are chaga, other medicinal mushrooms, green peas, cabbage, dark green leafy greens (think Italian parsley), nutritional yeast, wheat grass, wheat germ, beef heart and raw liver (which can give you parasites).
Supplements of SOD are essentially worthless. This has been demonstrated by a variety of studies, where SOD was given orally. What is needed is the natural, sun-charged photons, which cannot be duplicated synthetically.
Chaga super-studied by Drug Companies
For the past 40 years, 1,600 modern scientific studies have demonstrated and proven the pharmacological effects of medicinal mushrooms for the immune, hormonal and central nervous system. Here is a natural medicine which is broader in its powers than any pharmaceutical drug. Plus, unlike pharmaceutical agents it has no negative side effects.
The amazing thing about Chaga is that while the drug companies have known about it for decades, they have done a great job at keeping it secret. Most people – even those who know about natural health – have never heard of it. That situation is changing fast as more and more people try it and see what it does for them.
Chaga’s Components include:
•215 Phytonutrients, compounds contained in edible plants that have strong, well-documented anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties
•Melanin, which nourishes hair, skin and nails, and restores a youthful appearance
•Vitamin B1, B2,and B3
•Ergosterol (Vitamin D2)
•Complex immune activating compounds such as Beta Glucans (which help boost the immune system)
•29 Beta functions (e.g., Saponins and Sterol (which help control cholesterol), Triterpenes (anti-inflammatory), Betulinic acid (anti-inflammatory and potentially anti-cancer) and SOD (free radical defense)
•Very high antioxidant value, demonstrated in laboratory testing, meaning that chaga wipes out free radicals with unequaled power
No Side Effects
Siberian chaga is non-toxic and has no side effects. You can get benefits of Siberian chaga by brewing a tea with chaga powder or just simply adding it daily to your favorite juice, shake or smoothie. You can also take pills daily as alternative.
When I first started taking chaga I was a bit dubious about it – it does look rather strange after all, in its natural state growing on a birch tree.
So I had my husband, Michael, muscle test me to see if it was good for me. My body sure told me that it was! Then we tested to see how many teaspoons a day my body would like. I gave up testing once I got to 30 teaspoons! So I started off with 1/4 tsp the first day and am now happily consuming around 15 teaspoons or more a day. The only disadvantages I find are that it is SO cleansing that that:
1) When Michael and I first started taking it we got SO TIRED. I was impressed! This was obviously a healing reaction – the body was taking all this good nutrition and doing things that it wasn’t able to do before. This state didn’t last long. Now it gives me energy.
2) I have to drink a LOT of extra water. Otherwise my throat gets dry like I have never experienced before. Because of this, I prefer to drink more with breakfast and lunch, and less with dinner, so that I have time to give my body water to help with the detoxing. Otherwise I can wake in the middle of the night with a very dry mouth. And remember, water should be taken BEFORE meals, especially before breakfast. (See the book “Your body’s many cries for water“).
Chaga different from other Fungi
Chaga is a fungus which has properties that make it different from other fungi. It is a polyspore fungus, which makes it different from the typical fungi that grow in the ground. Chaga has gills, while other fungi have pores. Most mushrooms are quite soggy and wet, but chaga is very, very dry, which is one reason why it is so dense in nutrients.
Chaga takes 5 to 7 years to grow, and is very rare. Chaga cannot be farmed. Our chaga is wild-harvested.
Chaga as a food has only recently been introduced to the United States, although it does grow in the north. It has been well-known in Asia and Siberia for centuries. It is said to have been identified 4,600 years ago by the Shen Nong, the legendary father of Chinese medicine, and it was documented in the primary Chinese pharmacoepia some 2,200 years ago.
Traditionally, chaga has been used to:
•Boost energy (after the initial cleansing reactions)
•Support the immune system
•Increase the body’s resistance to stress
•Enhance the appearance of skin and hair
•Detoxify the body
•Normalize bodily functions such as blood pressure
•Slow the aging process
•Help heal numerous ailments
•Heal heal various diseases such as ulcers, cancer, and diabetes, gastritis, respiratory disorders and various inflammatory diseases such as shingles
In the last 40 years, many of these claims have been backed up by over 1,400 clinical and scientific research publications. Some of these studies have concluded that Siberian chaga has anti-cancer, anti-HIV and anti-viral properties. Chaga’s legendary health-giving reputation is partly derived from its extraordinarily high antioxidant concentration. Antioxidants fight free radicals, unstable molecules that damage cells and cause premature aging and disease (see Antioxidants). Chaga is also an adaptogen, a class of natural substances that enhance the body’s ability to adapt to stress and physical challenges.
Chaga gives Muscular Strength
Throughout Tsarist Russia Chaga was the preferred medicine of kings and royalty. It is quite possible that Chaga is the reason why it is mainly Russians who hold the world strength records. From the 60s to the 90s the Russians nearly always defeated the best weight lifters that the world could produce. They kept Chaga a secret. But in one case an American, Fred Hatfield, was given some Chaga by the Russians to help him as a health aid. While taking Chaga, he broke the world record in the squat. (After that, the Russians stopped sending him Chaga).
Probably the main reason that Chaga gives muscular strength is because it contains certain sterols, which are similar to steroids. Sterols are lipids and a kind of wax. They strengthen cell walls. These waxes also include cancer-killing substances such as betulin.
Incidentally, cholesterol is also a wax that is needed for membrane health by all cells in the body. The drug companies make billions trying to get people to get rid of something which is vital for health, especially the health of nerves. And remember that the brain is made of nerves. Every day the body makes the equivalent of the cholesterol of 24 eggs, because it MUST have it in order to survive.
I didn’t know that chaga caused an increase in muscular strength when I first started taking it and when I noticed, after a few weeks, that my muscle tone had increased noticeably. I told Michael that I was sure it was building more muscle. It was only later that I learned about the sterols in Chaga.
Chaga helps with Cancer
For the Ojibway tribe in Canada, it is a cure for different tumors.
Chaga has a number of substances which have been shown to be useful in healing cancer. For example, it is rich in saponin glycosides. These make healthy cells more fluid, which helps for nutrition to get in, and toxins to get out. But in the case if cancer cells, the cell membranes become so fluid that they break down and dissolve.
Chaga helps the Immune System
Chaga contains a lot of beta glucan. This is a ‘secret weapon’ for helping the immune system to fight off any external or internal danger. Incidentally, it helps to have some fat in the diet to increase absorption of beta glucan, but hopefully you are already eating some good fats and oils.
Chaga is an excellent source of Vitamin Bs
Chaga contains a lot of vitamin Bs, and is particularly rich in pantothenic acid, which is very good at strengthening the adrenal glands (which can be destroyed by caffeine).
Chaga is really more of a food than a medicine, because it is safe to eat for almost everyone. (Of course, there can always be the odd person who is sensitive to something. Start of very, very slowly, with 1/8 of teaspoon or less).
Naturally, Chaga is going to work the best for people who are doing the best they can to avoid unhealthy substances.
Some people like to take chaga extract, instead of the whole food. We believe that this is not a as good as whole Chaga. God and nature know best. Everything in Chaga is meant to work synergistically with everything else. Taking extract is treating it like a medicine, not a food, and therefore one must have limited quantities. Treating it like a food does not cause this problem.
It’s a little bitter, like coffee, if you add a drop of raw honey and a dash of cream to hot water, it tastes like coffee.
Make it out of warm almond milk, and no water, plus honey, and it tastes like hot chocolate.
DO NOT BOIL IT or you will lose some of its nutrition.
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100% Pure Scottish Chaga Chunks