Contributed by Dori Cranmore, All About Herbs
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a polypore mushroom that starts its life as a spore and finds its way to a weakness in a living tree, (birch trees in colder northern climates) where it grows and stores betulinic acid, beta glucans, beta carotines and a large number of vitamins and phyto-nutients, converting them to a useable form for humans and animals.
Betulin is the white, shiny powdery material that is easily identified in and on the bark of a birch tree. The stored betulin and betulinic acid can help to build the strength of the liver and reduce inflammation. It also contains B vitamins, phenols, enzymes, polysaccharides and minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iron.
It’s also one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid. We need pantothenic acid to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Chaga works to prevent cellular damage before it happens, leaving the immune system free to deal with more serious health issues. In Russia, they believe that the higher the chaga specimen on the tree, the higher betulitic acid content it has.
Chaga tea is used in the Russian folk medicine for a wide treatment of ailments including skin, lung and stomach cancer, gastritis, ulcers, TB and pain. Chaga extract has been an approved cancer drug in Russia since 1955.
The best time to harvest chaga is mid-July to mid-November in Alaska. If a hatchet is used, always stay straight with the line of the tree. The tree will grow another specimen ready for harvest in 3-5 years. Break the chaga into small pieces to dry or it will mold.
Making Chaga tea is simple. Place chaga in a pot and steep it. Chaga tea should be the color of dark coffee. Many keep it on low in a crock pot or on a wood stove and add more chaga as the tea loses its color. Drinking 3-4 cups a day gives the most medicinal value, but any amount is beneficial.
Research has shown many benefits including:
• Supports healthy immune function
• Energy and stamina
• Skin and body cell regeneration
• Apoptosis (cancer cell death)
• Supports healthy digestive system
• Vitamins and phyto-nutrients
• Helps regulate blood sugar
• Safe to use with no known side effects
Alaskan chaga chunks, powder, tea bags, chaga lotion, white chaga java, chaga chocolate bars and chaga extract is available at All About Herbs, Inc.
Recommended Reading: Chaga - King of the Medicinal Mushrooms by David Wolfe (available at All About Herbs, Inc.).