Chaga mushrooms have recently gained popularity when it comes to health and wellness. It comes in tea, powder, chunks, or extracts. But what is Chaga, and why should you be interested in these fascinating mushrooms?
Different Than Other Mushrooms
Chaga are technically not a mushroom, but a mycelium. They do not grow along the ground, on rotting trees, or other traditional place that you find mushrooms. The are not soft and tender like most mushrooms. Instead, they grow only on birch trees, very often high on the trunk. They have a charred appearance on the outside and a slightly more orange, spongy look on the inside.
How Chaga Grows
Chaga grows only in the northern forests that support birch trees. The fungus enters the tree through a blemish or injury and grows under the surface of the bark for several year before protruding through as a conk. If the conk is carefully harvested, the tree will remain undamaged, and the Chaga can continue to grow. It is possible to harvest the same Chaga site multiple times over several years. The compounds in Chaga seem to be more concentrated when the birch tree has faced more severe winters. The particularly harsh climate in Siberia, makes Chaga from Siberia ideal. In addition, because of its remote location, this Chaga is also less likely to have contaminants from pollution.
Because of Chaga’s unique growth habit, it boasts many beneficial compounds. Chaga concentrates important components from the birch trees. Betulinic acid, melanin, and loads of antioxidants are some of the most helpful ingredients in Chaga.
Used as Folk Medicine
For many centuries, Chaga was used as folk medicine by people groups throughout Russia. It was thought to promote health and wellness, as well as improve minor ailments, such as indigestion. It was also taken as a tea regularly to help people stay healthy and well. In the 11th century, the Grand Duke Vladimir Monomakh credited a birch fungus, presumably Chaga, with the cure for his lip disease.
Many of Chaga’s benefits are still recognized today. It can help regulate the immune system, improve digestion, and combat free radicals. For many people, it also offers an energy boost, without the side effects of caffeine.
Chaga makes an excellent tea. It has an earthy taste with a hint of vanilla. You can steep the chunks or powder to make a rich tea. For added flavor, consider adding honey and almond milk. The extract can also be added to cold drinks and smoothies.
Knowing about Chaga, its history and where it comes from, helps you know more about why it is so healthy for you. You may want to consider adding Chaga to your regular health and wellness routine. A cup of tea in the morning and again in the afternoon can help you feel well over the long term. You can also experience the boost of energy and mental clarity without reaching for a cup of coffee in the morning.