The Chaga mushroom, a revered health remedy in the East, is quickly becoming a growing health savior in the West.
Known by the Siberians as the "Gift from God" and the "Mushroom of Immortality," this vibrant growth has been used by humans to support health for thousands of years. The Japanese call it "The Diamond of the Forest," while the Chinese deem it "King of Plants."
Unlike most mushrooms, Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is as hard as wood.
Chaga looks nothing like other mushrooms and actually has a symbiotic relationship with the trees on which they grow, often helping to heal the tree.
Chaga strengthens and heals the tree by making potent phytochemicals, including sterols, phenols and enzymes. Researchers have inoculated sick trees with chaga to strengthen them. People benefit by consuming these forest-source phytochemicals and nutrients.
The greatest benefit to humans comes from the incredible immune boost Chaga provides. Chaga is loaded with Beta-D-Glucans, which help balance the response of the body’s immune system.
Beta-glucans release chemicals to destroy tumors and viruses in the body
This means Chaga helps boost your immune system when necessary during times of sickness. But, interestingly, Chaga also slows it down if it becomes overactive.
Specifically, beta-glucans stimulate the activity of macrophages. These are versatile immune cells that ingest and demolish invading threats to the body and stimulate other immune cells to attack.
Macrophages also release cytokines — chemicals that when secreted enable the immune cells to communicate with one another.
In addition, beta-glucans stimulate lethal white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses, and release chemicals to destroy them.
An Antioxidant Powerhouse
Chaga is known to have one of the highest ORAC scores (the measure of antioxidant potency) on the planet.
Chaga is packed with superoxide dismutase (SOD), an important enzyme that functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body.
SOD performs a vital anti-aging function by neutralizing oxygen free radicals, preventing oxidative damage to cells and tissues. In studies, low tissue levels of SOD have been associated with both a decline in overall health and a reduction in lifespan.
SOD acts as a "bodyguard" that essentially protects against DNA damage and helps to reduce the workload placed on the immune system.
High superoxide dismutase levels are associated with health and longevity.
SOD occurs naturally in the body. But as we age, our levels decline. This is when outside sources of SOD are crucial, especially after age 30.
Chaga mushrooms are also excellent sources of the antioxidant melanin, which gives Chaga its dark black exterior color.
Melanin is the same compound that makes up the main pigment in human skin, the retina of the eye and the pigment-bearing neurons within the brain stem.
According to David Wolfe, who has gained recognition as a raw food and longevity expert, "Having a nutritional source of melanin such as chaga lightens the body’s load of nutrient-demanding processes involved in melanogenesis (formation of melanin)."
Melanin supplementation via chaga consumption can enhance, beautify and protect the skin from sun damage and is additionally beneficial for the eyes and hair.
Betulinic Acid — Therapeutic Agent
Betulin and betulinic acid are powerful therapeutic agents that are currently being researched for their effects on supporting healthy cholesterol levels, their anti-cancer properties and virus-fighting components.
Betulinic acid in Chaga induces apoptosis (PCD) through its direct effects on the mitochondria. Once it gets inside cancer cells, it is believed to influence cell death within the tumor itself.
Research originating in Poland suggests that the betulinic acid is also activated by and drawn to the lower pH of the tumorous tissues.
The betulin in Chaga mushrooms could help kill cancer cells.
Mushroom mycologist Paul Stamets writes that the betulin concentrations in Inonotus obliquus have shown promise in treating malignant melanoma, completely inhibiting tumors implanted in mice, causing apoptosis of cancerous cells.
The extracts are also beneficial for antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory uses.
In addition, they are a known immune enhancer as well as a liver tonic (Stamets 2005).
How to Consume Chaga
Chaga is available in several forms, including concentrated extracts (tinctures), a Chaga-birch bark tea, ready-to-drink bottled chaga, and face and body creams. Or, you can buy full Chaga mushrooms yourself and choose how you go about ingesting them.
Our favorite tincture comes from the company Surthrival in 1:25 ratio Chaga extract.
Their Chaga extract, which uses wild-harvested mushrooms from New England, undergoes a dual extraction using organic menstruum. The tincture is bottled in miron glass, which blocks the complete spectrum of visible light with the exception of the violet part.
At the same time it allows a certain part to be permeable for radiation in the spectral range of UV-A, and infrared light.
This unique combination offers optimal protection against the aging processes that are released by visible light, thus lengthening durability and potency of products.
Miron glass lets products be "preserved by the bottle, not by toxins."
If you’re looking for full Chaga chunks, you can look into a company by the name of VIGR Lifestyles that’s based out of Regina, Canada.
VIGR Lifestyles sources Chaga from experienced, longtime hunters who hand-pick it from birch trees in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec.
Chaga is just one of many mushrooms with incredible health benefits starting to permeate throughout our Western culture.
These amazing gifts of nature can truly be some of the most amazing substances on earth. I suspect further research will only popularize their power to the general public, curing and aiding in many diseases.
Happy and healthy investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily