Everything You Need to Know About Chaga, the Anti-Ageing Mushroom
If you’ve yet to hear about Chaga, then you’re in for a treat. Chaga is a medicinal mushroom (a mushroom that is more like a herb than a culinary ingredient!) and it is renowned as an anti-ageing superfood with more antioxidants than well-known superfoods acai, pomegranate and blueberries (and many other magical constituents, which we’ll discuss later).
Chaga, otherwise known as Inonotus obliquus, is a wild mushroom that grows on birch trees in temperate climates. It’s an incredible superfood that is revered by the locals to these regions - kind of like the Arctic’s version of cacao - and has been used by indigenous people of the region for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest preserved human ever discovered (found mummified in the chilly European Alps) was carrying chaga with him, presumably because he knew all about how special this mushroom is. Traditionally, Chaga was used by the Ancient Chinese, Korean, and Eastern Europeans, as well as Northern Americans, and it is widely known in these regions for its anti-tumour benefits.
As a fungus, chaga has a symbiotic relationship with the tree on which it grows. What’s most amazing about Chaga is that its DNA structure is 30% more human than it is plant! Its health benefits are so great that we’d need a whole book to talk about them all - luckily, David Wolfe has written that book, Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms, and he’ll be visiting Australia in March to talk about these new-wave of superfoods (as well as much more!). But for those who want the download now, read on:
• Antiageing, Anticancer and Antiinflammatory: Chaga is one of the best natural sources of the antioxidant, liver-cleaning, cell membrane-protective, genoprotective, longevity enzyme known as superoxide dismutase (SOD). Chaga contains more SOD than other rich sources such as barley grass, seaweeds, marine oils and even some essential oils. SOD repairs cells and reduces the cellular damage caused by the most common free radical in the body called superoxide - this means that Chaga is amazing for reducing internal inflammation, regenerating skin and other tissues in the body (great for eczema and psoriasis) and lessening pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, as well as extending life span in those who consume it. SOD is naturally occurring in human tissues, but declines with age, especially after age 30. Chaga now has been studied in nearly 1000 clinical trials, and the health benefits are clear, especially in treating cancers and tumours.
• Supports the Immune System: Chaga is rich in beta glucans, which help balance the body’s immune system responses. You could say Chaga is an immuno-modulator, in that it is is useful in both under and over active immune conditions (great for autoimmune disease sufferers).
• Better Blood Sugar: Chaga has a powerful effect on blood sugar regulation; animal studies show its benefits for reversing Type 2 diabetes in 90% of mice. If that’s not enough, Chaga has been shown to protect the intestines, reducing digestive inflammation (great for those suffering IBS and colitis).
• Happy Intestines: Chaga has been shown to protect the intestines, reducing digestive inflammation (great for those suffering from ulcers, gastritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and colitis). Chaga is also antiparasitic and antiviral, so helps keep the digestive system in tip top condition.
If that’s not enough, Chaga is super high in healing nutrients including triterpenoids, botulin, trace minerals (copper, chromium, selenium, zinc and more), major minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and more), vitamins (B2, D2), amino acid complexes and many more.
I hope this will inspire you to get Chaga into your diet - it’s hard to find in Australia, but there are some amazing Chaga mushroom extracts which are perfect for adding to smoothies, hot drinks (think your morning coffee, tea or hot chocolate) or taken alone with hot water, which is closer to the traditional use of Chaga in a tea. Make sure you get the best quality you can afford - look for wild-crafted, dual-extracted products for best effects.
About the Author:
Mason Taylor is a health educator, speaker, and podcast host with a special interest in sharing how to navigate this evolving world and the many health paradigms to create a unique and potent health philosophy and approach that helps people to feel safe, balanced and vital in their body.
He is the founder of SuperFeast, which aims to supply on the best quality tonic herbs, medicinal mushrooms and detoxification products to assist its tribe in finding the best health possible.