Layne is a natural health enthusiast and has a technical medical background. She loves sharing her favorite health findings with others.
How to Use Chaga Mushroom in Your Diet
I am a huge chaga fan. One day I was watching an episode of "Alone" on the History Channel. One survivalist was feeling under the weather, so she foraged for a natural immune-boosting supplement. She found chaga on a birch tree, boiled hot water, and prepared the wild chaga for consumption as a tea. I had never heard of chaga before, so I was quick to do my research on this interesting mushroom.
What Is Chaga Mushroom?
Chaga mushroom or Inonotus obliquus grows on birch trees in the Northern Hemisphere—in Europe, Asia, Canada, and the NE United States. It does not resemble a typical mushroom in appearance—it looks like a large clot of dirt or a "conch." It grows on the outer bark of birch trees, and its unmistakable inner-orange hue is absolutely beautiful.
Super Nutrients in Chaga Mushroom
How Is Chaga Consumed?
Chaga has long been used in folk medicine for its numerous health benefits to resolve digestive upset and colon cancer. It is often harvested as a hard powder and is brewed in hot water to make a delicious beverage. It is most touted for its antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
My Favorite Chaga Beverage
Four Sigmatic refers to chaga as "the beauty mushroom" due to all of its health benefits. They make a delicious chaga mushroom elixir. It's USDA-certified organic, vegan, paleo, and super easy to use—simply dissolve it in a cup of hot water. I find these elixirs to be absolutely soothing. Four Sigmatic also makes other fun elixirs like lion's mane, reishi, cordyceps, and a fun matcha blend!
What Are the Health Benefits?
Chaga offers a variety of health benefits thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting properties. Here's how it benefits the body:
Slows Down Aging
Exposure to too much sun, pollution, stress, and environmental or dietary toxins can cause premature aging, wrinkles, droopy skin, and premature graying. All of these conditions are brought on by oxidative stress. A lack of antioxidants and heightened oxidative stress leads to high blood pressure and an increased likeliness of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers such as breast, lung, and cervical cancer.
Mushrooms contain triterpenes which help to make up the lipid substances in plants. Studies reveal that triterpenes cause cancer cell death. It is also suggested that chaga helps to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer patients.
Chaga helps with the production of cytokines which stimulate white blood cell production—the body's line of defense against minor and major colds and illnesses.
Studies reveal that chaga helps to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol which contribute to atherosclerosis or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Similarly, the oxidate properties help to reduce inflammatory bowel disease symptoms and those of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other autoimmune inflammatory diseases (acute and chronic).
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Chaga also lowers blood suger levels. Diabetic individuals and those using insulin should talk to their physician before consuming chaga.
Where Can I Find Chaga Mushroom?
There are certainly plenty of powders and elixirs sold both online and in natural markets. As mentioned, my favorite chaga elixir is featured above and easy to find at local natural markets like Sprouts and Whole Foods and on Amazon. It also comes blended in tea, in supplement form, and combined with coffee. Be sure to go for quality, purity, and acquire it from a trusted source. I do not recommend foraging for chaga unless you work with an expert.
How Can I Improve the Flavor of the Tea?
If you have a sensitive pallet, I recommend using a splash of non-dairy milk (or dairy if you so desire). I've added coconut milk and turmeric as well as stevia to my hot beverages on occasion. Ginger and honey might be a nice addition as well. I prefer chaga without any sweetener.
Side Effects and Safety
Chaga is not meant to substitute for regular prescription. Tell your doctor if you are considering its use. Allergic reaction may occur in some individuals. Chaga is not monitored by the FDA.
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- Effect of the Inonotus Obliquus Polysaccharides on Blood Lipid Metabolism and Oxidative Stress of Ra
Inonotus Obliquus is a medicinal mushroom that is widely used in folk medicine in Russia, North Europe and China. The objective of this study was to evalua
- KoreaMed Synapse
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Layne Holmes
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on March 22, 2020:
Hi Dora, Glad you are interested in mushrooms. I like drinking the Four Sigmatic blend of the chaga mushroom . . . the turkey tail is good too. I always feel pretty boosted when I drink it. I like to add turmeric to my teas too. Hope you are well.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 21, 2020:
Just discovered this article, but it is right on time for me. Just started adding mushrooms to my menu, and this tea sounds like it would be a great supplement for me. Thanks for sharing.
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 20, 2019:
Hi Lora, thanks for the feedback! I love these beverages and I feel super pumped after drinking it. I read for so long that a lot of people took themselves off of coffee and instead drank chaga, but prior to finding the yummy stigmatic blends, I only saw it used in a very folk-y, traditional way (pulling them off of trees). The chaga mushroom is so unusual. I'm happy that you are interested in it. I feel great drinking it. I wish I could consume it daily!
Lora Hollings on August 18, 2019:
Great article on all the benefits of the chaga mushroom, Layne! What you’re saying totally supports Dr. Joel Furhman’s diet recommendations to include even just one mushroom per day which can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 64%. He is a world renown nutritionist who has shown that diet can prevent the onset of most diseases and also help fight diseases. Often times, I don’t get around to preparing mushrooms daily (and they must be cooked not eaten raw as he specifically states in his diet recommendations, audios, and books.) This chaga mushroom elixir sounds like the answer to a prayer as far as getting the wonderful nutritional and cancer fighting benefits plus all you have to do is to add 1 cup of boiling water. I’m going to incorporate chaga mushrooms now into my daily diet for optimal health! Thanks so much for sharing this enlightening information and where you can purchase it too.
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 13, 2018:
Peggy, a lot of people use it to quit coffee as well—it has that kind of buttery, flavorful taste. Super good for the immune system, I love it. Definitely get creative with how you consume it. I tend to enjoy it without any sweeteners. I learned about Chaga while watching a survivalist show and since it's been featured quite a bit on health sites.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 13, 2018:
Thanks for writing this informative article. I had never heard of the Chaga Mushroom or tried it as a tea. This is another article to pin to my health board. I will certainly buy this and give it a try.