Due to their range of therapeutic effects, mushrooms are finally getting the recognition they deserve across much of the health and wellness world. Every type of mushroom is unique and provides its own distinct health benefits, flavor, and texture. In this guide, we will be exploring the benefits, history, uses, and products related to the chaga mushroom.
Often referred to as the “King of Mushrooms,” chaga is widely believed to be the most powerful of all functional mushrooms. These nutrient-dense mushrooms have been popping up everywhere, and can be found in various forms such as tea, coffee, powder, capsules, and tinctures.
Here at Vidacap, we specialize in chaga capsules because we believe this to be the most convenient and effective delivery method across a range of different uses.
Origin and History of Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushrooms have been used for medicinal, ritual, and recreational purposes for millenia in Russia and other northern European countries. Traditionally, the fungi was ground into a fine powder and brewed as an herbal tea. Indigenous populations used chaga for an extensive range of generalized health benefits.
The use of chaga in traditional medicine reportedly dates back to the 13th century, when the Khanty people of Russia and Siberia used it as part of their natural medicine. Aside from its medicinal uses, shamans also seeped burned chaga pieces in water and used it for ritualistic cleansing ceremonies.
The name chaga originates from the Russian word for mushroom (czaga), which is derived from the word fungus. Scientifically, chaga is known as Inonotus obliquus but also goes by several other names, including black mass, cinder conk, and birch canker polypore.
In traditional medicine, chaga mushrooms were touted for their ability to strengthen the immune system and improve overall health. Recently, the western world has started to take note, investigating the potential benefits of not only this species but also a range of other functional mushroom species as well.
How and Where Does Chaga Grow?
Chaga mushrooms grow mainly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates, like those of northern Europe, Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Siberia. It may also be found on elm, beech, ash, and alder trees.
The fungus is actually an infection that gets into tree trunks via wounds, i.e where a branch has broken off. Although host trees can survive some time with a chaga infection, they will eventually begin to rot away.
That being said, chaga mushrooms are slow-growing and can take years to develop on a host tree. Chaga is made from a mass of mycelium (the vegetative part of the fungus) and grows when a fruiting body of a higher fungi species enters a wound of a mature tree. The fungus continuously eats flesh from the tree’s bark, causing it to soften and weaken until the tree reaches a decaying state known as “trunk fracture.” Eventually, the fungi will disintegrate the tree from the inside out.
The part of chaga mushrooms that is harvested is the mycelial mass. The closer you harvest to the tree, the more pieces of rotting wood you will find because as the fruiting body matures, it digests its host. If harvesting is done carefully and the tree isn’t wounded, the same tree can produce harvestable sclerotia every three years – and can even survive with an infection for decades.
To the untrained eye, chaga mushrooms certainly don’t look like anything you would want to touch – let alone eat. On the outside, the fungus is a black mass that most would mistake for a clump of dirt or burnt charcoal. On the inside, however, chaga mushrooms are a striking orange.
Chaga mushrooms can grow up to 30 inches long and 20 inches wide, and weigh as much as 10 pounds. The outer black layer of the chaga mushroom is very hard, while the inside is much softer.
What Are Chaga Mushrooms Good For? (Benefits, Uses & More)
Chaga mushrooms are antioxidant powerhouses, with reportedly higher antioxidant content than blueberries. Given these properties, chaga may be beneficial at reducing oxidative stress in cells and decreasing inflammation.
In fact, chaga fungi have one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacities (ORAC) of any food on the planet. ORAC scores indicate a food’s ability to support the body against the harmful effects of oxidative stress and free radicals.
Chaga is also rich in fiber and essential nutrients, including vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. This mushroom is packed with beneficial properties and can be useful in numerous health capacities. Here are a few of the most noteworthy chaga uses.
Boosts Immune System
Cytokines act as chemical messengers during immune response, and let the immune system know when there is a potential threat. As reported in one 2011 study, chaga may help regulate the production of cytokines, thereby empowering the immune system to ward off infection more efficiently.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
According to research, chaga may help lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels. Having high cholesterol is a big risk factor for heart disease. Therefore, chaga may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Since chaga is high in antioxidants, it naturally reduces inflammation in the body. Long-term inflammation is linked to numerous diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, which means that chaga may indirectly lower the risk of certain diseases via its anti-inflammatory properties.
Chaga Products for Sale
If you want to start enjoying the full range of benefits of chaga mushrooms, there are numerous ways to incorporate these fungi into your daily routine.
People across northern Europe and Asia have been drinking chaga tea for its health benefits for centuries. Although it’s an edible fungus, chaga is bitter and not enjoyable when eaten raw or straight from the tree. This is why people have traditionally brewed it into a tea, pouring boiling water over raw chaga chunks. Today, chaga coffee and tea can be made by adding a chaga powder to your morning cup.
Interestingly, chaga beer has even entered the market over the last year. Though, we’re not so sure we would recommend this option because we are of the belief that alcohol and medicinal supplements have very different purposes, and should be used independently.
Another option is to use a chaga tincture. Tinctures are a liquid extract whereby the user consumes a desired number of drops sublingually. Often, however, the problem with tinctures is taste. Chaga is not a nice tasting supplement, and disguising the flavor isn’t easy – even when added to tea, coffee, juice, or water.
Here at VidaCap, we believe chaga capsules are the easiest, most convenient, and most versatile way to consume the mushroom. With our formula, you will receive 750mg of chaga extract per capsule, and there are 60 capsules in a bottle. We recommend two servings per dosage (therefore, a total intake of 1,500mg of chaga extract).
The wonderful thing about capsules is they allow you to completely avoid the earthy flavor of raw extract. Plus, capsules are easy to incorporate into any daily routine – it’s just like taking any other daily supplement. Simply swallow whole with a drink of water, and enjoy the benefits.
The Best Chaga Supplements on the Market
Adding chaga mushroom extract to your daily health regime can be incredibly beneficial to your overall well-being. When it comes to finding the best chaga mushroom supplement, it all comes down to personal choice. At VidaCap, we specialize in capsules because we believe this is the easiest, most direct, and most effective form of consumption possible. To shop our full selection of chaga mushroom supplements online, be sure to visit the official VidaCap online store.
Turkey Tail CapsulesDefend | Enhance | Protect
- Supports Immune System*
- Supports Gut Health*
- Packed with Immunity Activators*
- Packed with Beta Glucans*
- 60 Capsules Per Bottle
- 750mg of Turkey Tail Mushroom
Audrey has worked as a registered dietitian for 6 years. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 2014 she began an internship with the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, and was hired as an Outpatient Dietitian following graduation. She started her career counseling a variety of patients with different health concerns and disease states. After a few years into practice, she found her passion was working in cancer care, and has spent the last 4 years specializing in oncology nutrition.
In her practice, Audrey has spent a significant amount of time reviewing literature on herbal and dietary supplements in the cancer care setting. Through her work at Vidacap, she hopes to continue to expand her knowledge and understanding of the benefits of supplements in conjunction with promoting a healthy, balanced diet and management of overall health and well being.