You have probably heard of Chaga mushrooms. The subject of countless articles and several studies, these historied mycelia are enjoying a much-deserved day in the sun. Their recent popularity is due in part to a broader embrace of functional mushrooms here in the West. But even among functional mushrooms, they enjoy a high level of regard.
What are they, though, and what is chaga good for? Several internet articles offer only nebulous basics, indicating vague benefits to health and wellbeing. On the other side of the spectrum, scientific studies offer a granular, often language-prohibitive illustration of Chaga mushrooms, dealing with hyper-specific topics like their polysaccharides and inotodiol.
This article aims to explore the popular mushroom according to a happy medium. Here, you’ll find an accessible introduction to Chaga mushrooms, complete with linked studies about their benefits.
What Are Chaga Mushrooms?
Chaga mushrooms are dark, coal-like fungi that grow on birch trees in the cold climates of North America and Eurasia. In Cree legends, they are referred to as the burnt blisters of the birch, a gift from a mythological being to help humans cure various ailments.
The Cree people aren’t the only culture to embrace Chaga. Throughout history, Chaga has been an essential component in both Russian and East Asian herbalism. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, practitioners used (and still use) Chaga to slow ageing and promote healthy immune systems.
The mushroom has only recently been embraced by a wide section of western culture.
What Are the Potential Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms?
Scientists only recently took note of Chaga mushrooms – thanks, no doubt, to their increased popularity in the West. (Although it must be noted, researchers in Asia have been studying the mushroom for decades).
Studies are far-reaching in their concerns. Some have looked at the positive effects of Chaga on the immune system, reaching promising conclusions. Other researchers have studied the mechanisms with which Chaga can reduce inflammation and fight cell degeneration. And yet others have looked at Chaga’s potential anti-cancer properties. Overall, the body of research thus far points to encouraging results.
For more information on the potential health benefits of Chaga mushrooms, consult this round-up of scientific studies.
How Do You Take Chaga Mushrooms?
Chaga mushrooms grow as large lumps, but consumers typically use them in powdered form. Traditionally, herbalists brewed tea with Chaga mushrooms: a bare-bones process that many people still observe. Still, some prefer to incorporate Chaga mushrooms into their usual routine, adding a packet of powder to their morning coffee or afternoon smoothie.
The optimal daily dose depends on various biological factors like age and body mass. You can find dose-able 3-gram packets online that are mixed with eleuthero root to reinforce the Chaga’s polysaccharide content. Or you can buy Chaga mushroom powder in bulk to control your dosage.
Hopefully, this article has demystified Chaga mushrooms. The bottom line is that, while further studies are needed to substantiate the mushroom’s wide-ranging benefits fully, it shows promise as a way for people to support a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation.