The Essential Guide to Chaga - Foraged

The Essential Guide to Chaga

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Today, we’re talking all about Chaga. Perhaps you’ve heard of it before… or perhaps not. Either way, by the end of this article you’ll be well versed in all things Chaga and ready to try it out for yourself. 

Chaga has been popular in Eastern Europe for centuries for its many health benefits. So let’s find out what all the fuss is about!

What is Chaga?

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) in its raw form is a mushroom. The Chaga mushroom, commonly found in North America, grows on birch trees forming a dark, woody growth with its distinctive orange tissue. For centuries, the Birch Chaga fungus has been reputed for its medicinal properties, and studies are increasingly finding Chaga to have positive health benefits. 

Nutritional properties:

  • Antioxidants – Polyphenols 
  • Beta-D-glucans – immune system regulation, lower cholesterol 
  • Betulin/ betulinic acid – fights against cancer 
  • Polysaccharides – healthy blood sugar levels, liver, heart, and intestinal health
  • Phytosterols – fights viruses and cancer cells 

Chaga is full of nutrients. People in Eastern Europe have been turning the fungus into tea for thousands of years. Today, thanks to its increased usage in the West, Chaga mushroom teas and products are gaining more widespread popularity. 

What is Chaga used for?

Chaga is best known for its medicinal properties, but that’s not the only use people have found for this mighty fungus. Chaga has also been used as fire tinder throughout history.

Let’s take a look at Chaga’s use-cases in more detail.

Chaga for medicinal use

The Chaga fungus is an ancient folk medicine that has long been used for the treatment of cancers and digestive disorders. Chaga treatments have yet to be put to systematic human trials, however, researchers continue to assess the health benefits of Chaga as the fungus gains increasing popularity in the Western world. 

A 2010 study found sufficient evidence to suggest that chaga could be used as a natural anticancer ingredient in the food and/or pharmaceutical industries. Other purported medicinal uses for Chaga include immune system support, Chaga as an anti-inflammatory, and liver protection.

Chaga for use as tinder

Another use of Chaga is about as far from the medicine world as you can get. Chaga in its dried form has been found to make remarkably good tinder. Move over Christmas kindling, there’s a new fireplace favorite in town. 

How do I use Chaga?

The most traditional way to take Chaga is in tea form. But as Chaga gains popularity, Chaga-based products are diversifying. There are several options available to someone who wants to consume Chaga as a supplement. 

Chaga tea

Chaga teas are now widely available from health food stores and Chaga specialists. You can also make Chaga tea yourself, by simmering chopped Chaga chunks on the stove and straining out the remaining chunks before drinking. One of the benefits of making the tea at home is that you’ll be able to use the Chaga chunks again and again.

Another way to consume Chaga is in powder form. Chaga powders are highly concentrated and densely packed with those key  nutrients we discussed above. Powders are a versatile way to incorporate Chaga into your everyday life. You can cook with them or add them to your morning smoothies. Heck, you might even want to bake with Chaga powder! 

For those who don’t particularly like the taste of Chaga, powders are a great way to access all of those nutrients without even tasting it at all. 

Chaga capsules

Some people choose to take their Chaga just like they would a vitamin or supplement. Chaga supplements are easy to incorporate into your daily health routine. 

Chaga tinctures

Chaga tinctures offer Chaga as an extract. You can take Chaga tincture drops directly under your tongue or add them to a beverage of your choice.  

What are the benefits of Chaga?

We’ve already mentioned some of the benefits of Chaga, but there are so, so many more. Let’s take a look at some of Chaga’s health benefits in more detail. 

Cancer prevention

Studies suggest that Chaga may help prevent and fight cancer. Chaga treatments are yet to go to human trial but, who knows, perhaps we’ll start seeing Chaga as a key ingredient in anticancer drugs of the future! 

Immune system support

Chaga contains Beta-D-glucans which are known for supporting the immune system. Beta-glucans are also known to lower blood cholesterol by preventing the absorption of cholesterol from what we eat. 

Anti-inflammatory

Chaga contains many anti-inflammatory compounds including Betulinic acid, inotodial, and ergosterol peroxide. These compounds inhibit the production of cytokines in the body. 

Liver Protection…and more!

Chaga is full of antioxidant polyphenols. Reputed  health benefits include organ protection, protection against neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular health, diabetes, and even obesity. It’s important to note, however, that there is not yet any conclusive evidence based on human trials. 

What does Chaga taste like?

Thinking about trying Chaga but not sure if you’ll be able to stomach it? 

If you’re expecting that well-known ‘mushroom’ taste, then get ready to be surprised. Chaga mushrooms do not taste like your standard supermarket button mushrooms. Chaga has a very earthy flavor and can be quite bitter for some palates – especially in tea form. 

Luckily, if you do find that the taste of Chaga is too strong for you, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. There are plenty of ways to take Chaga without having to force it down in its pure form. For example, you could try a blended tea where Chaga is mixed with other herbs and spices, or you could opt for Chaga capsules, powders, or tinctures.

Where can I buy Chaga?

Ready to give Chaga a try? Great!

Your Chaga journey begins here. Chaga is readily available these days due to its burgeoning popularity.

Foraged is your one-stop shop for all things mushrooms. Here you’ll be able to shop the mushroom marketplace and connect with mushroom foragers, farmers, and small business mushroom producers directly. Foraged carries fresh Chaga, dried Chaga, and various tinctures, powders, extracts, and capsules to suit your needs.

Give Chaga a try today!

Why not give Chaga a try? Whether you like it in tea form, in a morning smoothie, or as a nighttime tincture under the tongue, you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of Chaga! 

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