Welcome both old and new fans of Chaga!
What is Chaga?
Chaga is the fruiting body of a fungus that grows on the birch tree in areas such as the semi-arctic climate found in the Adirondacks. Chaga can be found on all types of birch trees, both Paper (White) and Yellow birch; but here at Birch Boys, we only source our Chaga from the white birch tree (Betula papyrifera), because it contains higher concentrations of the medicinal compounds that we want our Chaga products to contain.
In appearance, Chaga looks like a black charcoal-esque growth protruding from the side of a birch tree. It's exterior is dark brown/black and very textured. Inside this shell of thick cellular tissue (called Chitin) is an orange interior packed full of antioxdants, melanin and fiber. Chaga is a very easily identifiable fungus.
What does Chaga do?
Chaga is historically renowned for it's multitutde of health benefits. It contains a wide variety of beneficial compounds. It is most well known for being a great source of Antioxidants! Chaga's ORAC score (concentration of antioxidants) is 146,700! That is almost 40,000 higher than the antioxidant concentration of the acai berry! Antioxidants are healthy for your body because they reduce the negative effects of Oxidative Stress, a stress that occurs when you treat your body poorly, are stressed, or have a condition that contributes to your stress levels.
In addition to it's high antioxidant concentration, Chaga contains Polysaccharides which provide a natural energyboost, Melanin- a compound known for promoting skin elasticity, Vitamin B, and Beta-D Glucans which support the immune system.
Chaga is also an adaptogen, which means that it supports the healthy function your adrenal system, and aids in a positive response to stress and stress hormones.
What is Betulin or Betulinic Acid?
Betulin is a compound found in the tissues of the white birch tree. In the birch tree, this chemical functions as a defense mechanism, seeking out and destroying foreign invader cells to keep the tree healthy. Chaga absorbs this compound and when utilized in a tea or tincture Betulin can work in our body as well. Betulin will not harm human body cells, because our cell membranes are too thick for these molecules to permeate. However Betulin will still attack foreign invaders in our body.
How do I use Chaga?
Chaga can be consumed as a tea or as a tincture, added to skincare products and also used as a dye. Chaga Tea in particular is very mild, it tastes earthy-sweet and when steeped provides access to a wide variety of benefits such as the antioxidants, vitamins, polysaccharides and more. Taking Chaga as a tincture gives you access to the Betulin and Melanin trapped inside the Chaga's Chitin or thick cellular tissue. To learn how to make a double extraction tincture, check out our recipes and tutorials page! Tinctures are definitely a more intense way to consume any mushroom and work best for people undergoing cancer treatment or looking to cope with symptoms of a specific illness.
Chaga and Diabetes
Chaga may be a natural insulin regulator. This means that if you are on a diabetes medication, that you should not consume Chaga because it may counteract your medication. However, if you have diabetes and are not on medication, Chaga could work well for you. Some people choose to use Chaga to cope with their diabetes after researching the topic and considering it as an addition to a daily regimen. We do not recommend this unless you have had a thorough talk with your doctor prior to consumption. Always check with your doctor before adding any supplements or health-boosters to your diet.
Chaga for Pregnancy and Children
There have been no reported negative effects to using Chaga while nursing or pregnant.As always, please consult with your doctor before adding this mushroom to your diet to ensure you do not have any underlying issues that could become exasperated with the use of a supplement.
Chaga is also a great replacement for sugary drinks for kids, especially sweetened with a tad of NYS Maple Sugar. It's mild sweet flavor is not offensive to sensitive palates.
As an introduction to any subject, we could continue on for a long time discussing the multitude of uses and benefits of mushrooms and Chaga, specifically. As responsible mushroom experts and enthusiasts will already understand, it is important to consider multiple sources when researching the benefits of this beautiful kingdom of life.
Please leave a comment with any additional questions you may have, as the conversation can always lead to a better understanding of Chaga.
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