This is no ordinary mushroom, no run-of-the-mill portobello, nor an exotic French truffle, it’s not even magical, but it’s pretty close. This is the Mushroom of Immortality.
I first encountered the Chaga mushroom during my last summer break in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. One of my friends invited me over to his house to have dinner and play some music. We arrived a little early only to find that our host had gone mushroom hunting. When he came back he had a small handful of these ugly, gnarly black fungi and insisted that they could cure anything.
What is Chaga?
Chaga is actually a fungal parasite that grows on birch trees, which is why it is most common in colder northern regions of the globe, such as Canada, Eastern Europe, Russia, and even the U.S. East Coast. When it is growing on the tree it looks like a black, crusty tumor and doesn’t really resemble a mushroom at all.
Many of the places where this mushroom grows have folk medicine traditions that include Chaga to treat a plethora of ailments including cancer, ulcers, gastritis, etc. and now based on these traditions, many modern studies are being performed to find out why this funky mushroom has such great healing power.
Benefits of Chaga
In Russia, where Chaga is common and engrained in folk culture, Chaga is known as an adaptogenic plant, meaning it helps bring the body back into balance in times of stress. Chaga is a natural biological response modifier so it helps make your body be more sensitive to its surroundings and properly respond to them.
In the case of the immune system, Chaga boosts the immune system when it is fighting off something, but also helps slow it down when it is overactive. This can help the body fight the common cold, autoimmune disorders, and help keep your seasonal allergies under control. Because of this unique property, Chaga is traditionally used in the treatment of gastrointesinal health issues. In the case of ulcers, which are caused by a bacteria the body can normally fight off, in times of stress or additional sickness, the body needs additional immune support to do this.
Chaga is also now being studied for its anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that Chaga activates immune cells responsible for combatting cancer and even inducing cell death in cancerous cells.
Chaga is rich in natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that help keep blood vessels soothed in times of irritation such as during allergy season or for those suffering from chronic disorders such as diabetes, and neuropathy.
How do you get it?
Where to buy it
Chaga is relatively rare and spendy mushroom, but it is well worth it. Since it only grows in chillier climates, I had to order from an online distributer. The mushroom does grow wild in Northern areas of the U.S., so if you happen to live there get out into nature and hunt some mushrooms.
How to prepare it
Chaga Mushroom Tea
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes - 4 hours (your preference)
- Total Time: 1-5 hours
- Servings: 4 cups
Pour cold, filtered water into a pot with one one fist sized mushroom chunk and bring to a roaring boil .
Once the water has started boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes to 4 hours. Simmer time depends of preference for strength.
#SpoonTip: I recommend boiling for 1-4 hours to get the most of the Chaga, you can always add more water later if it’s too strong.
After simmering for the desire time, pour into your favorite cup and enjoy!
Add Honey or Milk as needed.