Chaga mushroom is an herb that’s been used by humans for thousands of years. It has a long history of usage in Russia and Siberian cultures as a folk remedy for almost anything. It’s kind of like their panacea to cure whatever ailments you have. Most famously it’s been used to cure cancer. They extracted a drug from chaga called ‘befungin.’ If you Google that it seems they’ve had a lot of success with that, and its usage has been widespread.
The Many Benefits of Chaga Mushroom
Chaga has some subtle properties on a more energetic or spiritual level, but it doesn’t seem to have the spirit developing, anti-stress, meditative, antidepressant effects that reishi does. Reishi is probably the most profound Shen tonic. I wouldn’t necessarily classify chaga as a Shen tonic. It is, of course, a medicinal mushroom and immune tonic.
All of these medicinal mushrooms, like cordyceps, reishi, chaga, Agaricus, Lions mane, maitake and shiitake all have similar chemicals. They have slightly different personalities and they all can work on slightly different things. We want to avoid the attitude of only focusing on one because it’s the ‘best’ and ignore the rest of the mushrooms. If you’re saying that about reishi, then I can understand that because reishi just happens to be so magical!
A more reasonable, sustainable approach would be to have all of them somewhere in the mix. If you’re going to make yourself an elixir you can use chaga tea as the base. Get a pound of chaga from Mountain Rose Herbs for $30 or so, make tea for months on end, and just throw in your reishi and cordyceps powder- you’ll have a pretty amazing immune effect. This synergy of the three is where the real magic starts to happen. Each one kind of has their own personality. When you put that together you get this synergy which gives your immune system such a therapeutic, tonifying, strengthening, and rejuvenating effect.
Adaptogenic Properties of Chaga
Chaga is actually a pretty profound adaptogen for balancing and regulating all the different metabolic, immunological, respiratory, digestive, energetic and endocrinal functions in the body. It’s something that can help you really adapt to stress and help your body deal with stress in a much more efficient way. By definition this is what an adaptogen does. Since chaga tends to grow in very extreme, cold climates, it has to adapt. Following that logic, when we take in chaga we’re able to ingest, imbibe, and take on its adaptogenic properties which help our body become more adaptogenic.
Chaga, of course, is a very powerful immune tonic due to its concentration of beta glucans and polysaccharides which sort of plug-in like lock and key in our immune cells and help our immune cells work better and function at a higher rate to decrease inflammation, decrease autoimmune conditions, to balance out any kind of immune system imbalance that we might be having. It also helps chaga to be very antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial. When our immune system ramps up and gets more intelligent, it cleans house and knocks all these stowaways out of our body, which helps us feel more clearheaded, happier, much less depressed, more energetic, and other aspects because it’s taking the burden off of our body.
A lot of our energy gets sucked into our immune system having to fight off this junk all the time. By taking it in and taking that burden off we’re able to get more energy and feel better.
Also, chaga is really good in helping to detox the body of heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, and metabolic waste. This is partially due to its massively high concentration of antioxidants. Chaga is probably the highest antioxidant-containing food in the world. This is due to its dark black pigment. These antioxidants have a therapeutic effect and synergize well with a lot of the other ingredients that we have at our disposal. One thing that helps the chaga synergize and work well in an elixir is that it has a really pleasant, almost vanilla taste to it because it contains vanillic acid. It’s a great tea by itself and it will make your drink very black.
The Way Chaga Grows in Nature Benefits Our Health
Mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps, Agaricus, shiitake, and maitake can all be cultivated, but chaga hasn’t really been able to be cultivated. The mycelium can be cultivated. Certain products out there will contain mycelium. I’m still personally on the fence about the efficacy of mycelium just because the majority of the research has been done on the fruiting body. If you go out in the woods and hunt mushrooms and hunt the fruiting body- the traditional folk, historical usage of chaga has always been the fruiting body. We haven’t been able to figure out how to get the fruiting body yet. This is because chaga grows on birch trees and it’s something that grows along with the birch tree for about 5 to 7 years. Eventually the tree dies down along with the chaga.
If you’re ever out wild crafting or if you’re buying chaga in its whole form or bulk form, it’s wild crafted. This is another way to get wild food into our body that hasn’t been bred or messed with, hybridized, or been tampered with by human hands. It’s something that had to live in nature and fight for survival. Something like chaga is in the fight for his life for seven years or so, which gives it an innate and inherent intelligence that we can’t really duplicate in a lab or an agriculture environment. This organism has to fight off other organisms and bacteria, fungus, yeast, and mold. It has to develop an immune system.
When we take in the mushroom, we’re able to leverage and kind of take in all that immune information and educate our own immune system as well as more of the subtle energetic or spiritual properties (if you want to look at it like that) of an organism that’s living in the woods, living in a really old forest, and just having to deal with all the things that it has to deal with in order to even stay alive.
It’s actually pretty easy to find chaga in the United States depending on how far north you are. I know areas in Maine, New Hampshire, Canada, and some other northern climates that find it quite readily and easily.