Chaga mushroom Inonotus obliquus is a highly revered medicinal mushroom traditionally used in folk medicine throughout Russia, Northern Europe and China. Hailed as the “King of Mushrooms” due to its potent antioxidant status and ability to improve cardiovascular health, skin, gut health, immunity, liver function and provide increased adaptability and stress relief.
In modern times, the interest surrounding Chaga has been due to it’s anti-ageing effects, it’s ability to improve cholesterol and blood glucose levels and it’s anti-cancer, immune modulating benefits.
Chaga mushroom is unique in that it grows on living birch trees in a symbiotic relationship with the tree. Birch, being a medicinal tree, causes Chaga to contain potent medicinal properties, and even though it is called a “mushroom”, it is actually a sclerotia (mycelial mass) primarily composed of the medicinal compounds from birch trees–betulin, betulinic acid and more.
Being an adaptogenic herb, Chaga supports the HPA axis – hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that connects our brain, perceived stressors and our adrenals which causes the release of stress hormones.
Chaga mushrooms have traditionally been used as a health promoting tea with wonderful health benefits for all ages. Read on as we provide all the information about the super healthy Chaga tea.
Chaga mushrooms do not taste like the typical culinary mushrooms you purchase from the supermarket and grocery store.
The taste of healthy Chaga tea has a earthy flavour and it’s naturally bitter taste is due to the high presence of triterpenoid compounds. It also contains a naturally occurring form of vanillin, the same found in vanilla bean, that gives Chaga tea a nice vanilla taste.
Many people only enjoy sugary and salty foods and haven’t cultivated their palate to enjoy bitter foods yet. People are often wary of the bitter earthy taste of Chaga. This is why the most common question we get asked is, “what does Chaga tea taste like?”
You can drink Chaga tea straight as it is, however, it might not be appealing to most due to its slight bitterness. It may be more palatable if you add your favourite sweetener or plant based milk to improve the taste.
Chaga mushroom has been used as a popular beverage for centuries in folk medicine. Historically, the Finnish army used to drink Chaga as a substitute for coffee during WWII when they ran out of coffee beans.
In more modern times, Chaga mushroom extract is used most popularly as an addition to coffee or as a suitable coffee alternative.
Chaga causes the body to produce energy at the cellular level without over-stimulating the nervous system, much like coffee does on its own. Therefore, you can get more sustained energy throughout the day when you add Chaga to your coffee. Also, coffee is notoriously acid-forming in the body. When you add Chaga, this makes your cup of coffee less acidic and causes the pH to a more balanced acid-alkaline ratio.
Try the taste of a superfood latte with Chaga.
Chaga is naturally caffeine free and its powerful energy enhancing benefits make it the perfect coffee replacement. Unlike Chaga tea, coffee causes jitters and those unwanted afternoon crashes after we ingest too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages.
Wild Chaga extract from birch trees is a versatile ingredient that also makes a delicious addition to your smoothies, hot chocolates, soup broths and other recipes.
Chaga is one of the most potent antioxidants in the world. Wild Chaga mushrooms contain an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbancy Capacity) value of around 146,700 which is 3x the score of the super popular antioxidant rich acai berry (1, 4).
What this means is that Chaga is very effective at scavenging free radical molecules that drive oxidative stress that damage cellular DNA and cell function. This is the whole reason why we want to be consuming antioxidant rich foods each and every day; to support this balance of pro-oxidants to anti-oxidants.
Chaga mushrooms are very high in polyphenols–particularly inonoblins, protocatechic acid and gallic acid–that help crown it’s superior antioxidant status. These polyphenolic compounds have been shown to enhance the body’s own protective endogenous antioxidants; specifically Gluathione, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and Catalase (2).
The body naturally produces free radicals as part of everyday cell function. When we make energy – we produce free radicals. When we detoxify – we produce free radicals. When our immune system fights off pathogens – we produce free radicals.
Harmful toxins like cigarette smoke, inflammatory junk foods and other factors such as chronic stress, lack of sleep causes an increase in the production of free radicals and thus, accelerate cellular ageing and disease formation.
When we regularly consume antioxidant rich foods like Chaga, the body becomes stronger and can offset this natural and environmental exposure to oxidative stress, thereby, improving the function and structure of our cells, and thus – us.
Chaga mushrooms are also rich in melanin – the pigment responsible for determining skin colour. Melanin itself is an antioxidant compound and elicits genoprotective properties (4).
Like all medicinal mushrooms, Chaga has traditionally been used to buffer the stress response and modulate the immune system.
Chaga specifically supports the function of the immune system through its rich source of polysaccharides and triterpenoids. Chaga contains beta-glucans and proteoglycans that have been shown to enhance the immune system by stimulating and activating (natural killer) NK cells (3-6).
Natural Killer cells are part of the innate immunity branch and are usually first on the scene when any harmful foreign organisms are detected in the body. NK cells then signal T-cells and Macrophages to migrate to the scene, eliciting an immune response and the death of the invader.
Chaga mushrooms also supports apoptosis – programmed cell death (3).
Programmed cell death is necessary for healthy cell function. If any part of a cell starts to not work properly or when cells become infected with viral DNA they themselves release free radicals and causes a mutation in cancer cells. Chaga also possesses anti-cancer properties (4, 5, 6).
Apoptosis is the necessary cleaning that occurs throughout the entire body. The process identifies old or damaged cells and calls upon the immune system to break them apart and eat them up.
Chaga has been utilized for its hypocholesterolemic properties for centuries as well as its hepatoprotective abilities. In mice studies, the consumption of Chaga mushroom showed to significantly reduce LDL, free fatty acids levels, total cholesterol, triglycerides and increase HDL (4, 6, 7, 8, 12).
Chaga mushrooms are also rich in chitin – the insoluble fibre that makes up their fungi cell wall (4).
Fibre is a key cholesterol lowering nutrient that binds to excess cholesterol within the GI tract and excreted through the bowels. It’s also impossible to separate cholesterol levels from liver function. One of the key roles of the liver is to recycle and transport cholesterol. When the liver is overburdened, it’s cholesterol processing ability becomes overwhelmed and causes inflammation and high cholesterol.
Chaga mushroom is hepatoprotective – meaning it protects and supports the liver from oxidative stress and also; stimulates the liver to produce our own endogenous antioxidant compounds– Gluathione, SOD (superoxide dismutase) and catalase–which causes lower cholesterol levels.
Chaga contains triterpenoid compounds that may help lower blood sugar. Betulinic acid, betulin, ergosterol, lanosterol, inotodiol and trametonolic acid have all been shown to elicit blood-glucose lowering benefits.
Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of Chaga mushrooms to significantly reduce blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance in induced diabetic mice when treated for three weeks (4, 6, 7, 10).
Chaga has also been shown to improve blood glucose balance through its antioxidant properties and its ability to inhibit AGE’s – advanced glycation end products formation (11).
AGE’s are when glucose in the blood stream attach to proteins – making them highly inflammatory, damages their function and accelerates atherosclerosis. This causes a buildup of plaque within the arteries and drives cardiovascular disease.
Oxidative stress also inhibits proper glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, drives high blood glucose; pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, PCOS and metabolic disease.
With Chaga being an adaptogen and potent antioxidant, it improves and decreases oxidative stressors and free radicals which can drive high blood sugar levels.
Traditionally, drinking Chaga tea is the best way to consume this powerful medicinal mushroom for optimal health benefits.
Simply add ½ tsp (1-3 grams) of Chaga mushroom extract powder to one cup of hot boiling water. For best results, we recommend consuming Chaga tea on its own but if the taste not appealing, try adding your favourite sweetener and/or plant based milk to improve the taste. When the temperature is just right, drink and enjoy.
Try wild Chaga mushroom today.
Chaga mushroom tea is one of the most medicinally potent and beneficial teas in the world. Chaga tea has traditionally been used as a life-promoting elixir for centuries.
When you drink Chaga tea, your body is absorbing all the potent adaptogenic triterpenoids, immune-modulating polysaccharides, DNA supportive antioxidants and polyphenols. These compounds go to work immediately in the body to enhance the immune system, increase energy, reduce stress, nourish skin, improve cardiovascular health and support overall wellbeing.
There is no evidence to suggest any side effects for healthy individuals when consuming Chaga. Please consult with your medical practitioner is you have any underlying medical conditions or causes before consuming Chaga.
Due to a lack of human studies and clinical evidence, it is recommended to avoid consuming Chaga mushroom while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Those with autoimmune conditions should avoid, as well as those taking blood sugar and cholesterol lowering drugs to be cautious as it can have an additive effect.
Those with bleeding disorders or having surgery should not consume Chaga (13).
Being a highly revered adaptogen and tonic herb, Chaga tea can be safely consumed in moderate doses every day. If you’re new to Chaga, start with one cup per day and see how your body reacts. Over time, you can gradually increase to three cups per day or more for optimal health benefits.
Chaga mushroom is one of the most powerful antioxidant and cell protecting foods on the planet. As a highly beneficial “functional food”, the health benefits and medical causes for Chaga mushrooms are noted in numerous ancient and traditional medicine books. Chaga has traditionally been used for centuries to improve gut health, nourish skin, support the liver and cardiovascular health, boost immunity and as a superb longevity agent, prolong lifespan.
Consume Chaga tea regularly everyday and take advantage of all its incredible medicinal properties to support your wellbeing and health.