Ever seen a parasitic, dense, dark-as-a-coal mushroom leeching onto the strong, water-resistant, cardboard-like bark of birch trees? Many don’t know that this mushroom is called Inonotus Obliquus or more popularly known as the Chaga Mushroom. It may be an unusual sight in your place as these fungi typically grow above ground. However, if you are from Canada, Japan, China, Siberia or Russia, you most probably have seen one.
Mushrooms can be quite beneficial for the health, but Chaga is the “King” of them all. Let’s look at eight wondrous Chaga facts you should know.
#1: Chaga Mushroom is an immune system optimizer.
As an adaptogen, Chaga balances our immune response and maintains optimal homeostasis. It can slow our bodies’ autoimmune responses down when it’s overactive and heightens its functioning when otherwise. In other words, Chaga educates our immune system and balances it. In this modern society where autoimmune disorders, commonly caused by stress, are a common health issue, this immune tonic herb is greatly beneficial!
#2: Chaga is the most powerful immune boosting antioxidant in the entire mushroom kingdom.
Previously, Acai berry was most health enthusiast’s ultimate superfood. However, recent studies have shown a huge difference in Chaga and Acai’s antioxidant levels, with Chaga having three times better antioxidant level (per 100g) than Acai (52, 500 vs. 18500). The mushroom’s polysaccharides, beta glucans, and betulinic acid detoxify blood and liver. They also stimulate stem cells. Furthermore, they reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, and some other degenerative diseases.
#3: Chaga Mushroom has beauty enhancing properties.
The black outer layer of Chaga may not look so inviting but is a very high source of melanin. Melanin is an outrageously powerful anti-oxidant that has a strong geno-protective effect on the body. This makes Chaga a powerful anti-aging tool. It does not only protect but revitalize and regenerate our skin and hair. It beautifies and enhances their latent properties. The same compound benefits the eyes, brain neurons, and other body organs. Thus, not only does this mushroom maintain strong immune response; it also preserves youth.
#4: Chaga Mushroom ameliorates cancer treatments and is a potential cure for the disease.
Having read this far, you have already known Chaga’s ability to balance and optimize the immune system. When undergoing an aggressive cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, a patient may suffer from fatigue, headache, poor appetite, stomach pain, and other effects of a compromised immune system. Chaga neutralizes the immune system which can greatly alleviate the pain, inflammation, and other side effects of the medication.
Additionally, Chaga can potentially cure cancer. According to health experts, the betulinic acid and phytosterols present in Chaga have the ability to kill cancer cells directly. Also, this seems to be a most effective medicine to take during the early stages of cancer. Since 1955 in Russia, there are approved anti-cancer drugs with Chaga extracts. Further, Hobbs (1995) believes the mushroom can treat breast, lung, cervical and stomach cancers. The fungus is definitely a breakthrough in medicine!
#5: Health experts claim Chaga is one of the strongest anti-tumor mushrooms.
This fungus’ betulinic acid and anti-tumor compound target tumor cells based on their pH level. Tumors’ pH level is generally lower compared to normal tissues, and the fungus only activates at those low levels. What’s more, it can do so without any side effect and no toxicity. Once activated, an apoptosis (programmed cell death) is induced inside tumors, thus inhibiting tumor growth.
#6: Chaga Mushroom normalizes blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The betulinic acid which you can find in Chaga is proven by several studies to have the ability to break down bad cholesterol and support the increase of good cholesterol in one’s bloodstream. The mushroom’s polysaccharides also maintain normal cholesterol levels, eventually resulting in a lower high blood sugar level and a healthier cardiovascular system.
#7: Chaga is a natural anti-inflammatory remedy.
Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues. Needless to say, it is an autoimmune disorder. Such condition may result in many chronic ailments including hepatitis, ulcer, asthma, dermatitis, and Parkinson’s disease. What Chaga does is simple—the fungus inhibits the production of a higher number of cytokines which is a prime culprit for inflammation. Thanks to the betulinic acid, inotodial, and ergosterol peroxide compounds of Chaga, inflammation is reduced or cured in the body.
#8: Chaga can be made into a tea, coffee, tincture, or used as an ingredient in your favorite food.
To get the most out of Chaga mushroom, it’s best to boil it yourself and add it to tea or coffee. Some even consume Chaga as an alternative food. It is loved for its slightly bitter nature. On the other hand, a tincture is made by mixing this medicinal fungus with alcohol. It takes a few weeks or months to tincture Chaga into vodka but is definitely worth the wait. Another way to consume it is to make or buy a powdered Chaga and add it as an ingredient to your favorite food like cakes or cookies. You are sure to enjoy a healthy diet!
With its rough, coal-like exterior, Chaga Mushroom does not seem to be a very likeable food. But one must look beyond this unnerving sight and discover its overlooked nutritional value. Only then will you get the most of the so considered “King of Mushrooms”.
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