According to the Siberian indigenous music group Otyken, chaga is the favorite food of a swamp-dwelling forest spirit named Kykakacha. It is a fungal mass known as a sterile conk that grows on birch trees throughout the region, as well as in parts of Northern Europe and America.
Chaga might not give you supernatural powers, but it does have a range of amazing health benefits thanks to its potent antioxidant properties. Read on to learn more about the benefits of chaga and why products like chaga mushroom capsules are becoming so popular.
What Is Chaga?
Chaga is often marketed as a medicinal mushroom, but this is slightly misleading. While chaga does have powerful healing properties, it is not actually a mushroom but an accumulation of fungal tissue known as a sterile conk. It is part of a fungus that parasitizes birch trees, and although the fungus does produce mushrooms, these are not the parts that are used therapeutically.
Rather than having a traditional mushroom appearance, chaga looks like an irregular, black mass that grows on the tree’s bark. It looks somewhat like a piece of coal, hence its alternative name, clinker polypore (a clinker being an old-fashioned name for a lump of coal). When you cut it open, chaga’s dull black surface splits to reveal a gold interior, which is perhaps fitting given this fungus’ extreme value.
Because of its association with birch trees, it contains precious active compounds such as betulin and betulinic acid. They have powerful antioxidant effects and make chaga one of the most sought-after functional fungi on the planet. It has been used in Siberian folk medicine for centuries and is now gaining popularity around the world.
Chaga Mushroom Capsules: Benefits and Uses
In addition to betulin and betulinic acid, chaga contains a wealth of other beneficial compounds, including polysaccharides, triterpenoids, polyphenols, and melanin. Its traditional uses include relieving digestive upsets and preventing colds and flu.
Chaga also has a long history as a treatment for tumors. According to legend, the former Prince of Kyiv, Vladimir Monomakh, used it to heal a cancerous tumor on his lip. Research into the benefits of chaga is just beginning, but early studies show it has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor effects.
How to Take Chaga
Traditionally, people would take chaga by brewing the fungus in water to make chaga tea. You can do this by simmering 5-10 grams of chaga in water for 15-20 minutes. You can also steep the pieces in hot water for up to half an hour without boiling.
Although making tea is a time-honored way of consuming chaga, the process is time-consuming, and the resulting brew has a bitter flavor that not everyone finds palatable. Therefore, nowadays, most people prefer using products like chaga mushroom capsules. They are convenient to take wherever you are, and there is no unpleasant taste to contend with.
Some companies sell other products like chaga tinctures, powder, and even coffee-like beverages. But when it comes to ease of use, capsules are the number one choice.
Where to Source Chaga
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere chaga grows naturally, you could head into the forest and forage for some. You will have the benefits of seeing the fungus growing in its natural habitat and may feel all the more resonant with it for doing so.
The fungus does not really have any look-alikes, but it could be mistaken for a tree burr. So, if you live in the north and see an unusual growth on a birch tree, take a closer look. You may have struck gold!
For those living further south, the only practical solution is to buy a pre-manufactured product like chaga mushroom capsules or similar. You will find a huge selection online and can easily source as much as you need.
When buying, search for a reputable brand that you can trust to produce effective products. If you are looking for an antioxidant supplement to support your health, quality matters, so resist the temptation to go for the cheapest option.
The best suppliers will use organic chaga and lab test their products for potency and purity. They should make these test results readily available on their website so you can confirm their legitimacy.