Also known as
Inonotus obliquus, Birch mushroom
Chaga is a mushroom that has a tendency to grow on Birch trees, usually taking 5-7 years for it to fully mature. Chaga has been a part of folk medicine in Russia, Poland, China and numerous Baltic countries for many centuries. Traditional Chinese medicine reports that it is beneficial in keeping a healthy balance, maintaining ones youth, and promoting longevity. Russian folk medicine used it for ailments of the stomach, liver, and heart, as well as a way to treat malicious tumors with minimal side effects. It is still used in Russia as a tonic, purifier of the blood, and general pain reliever. Attempts for culturing this fungus have all resulted in a reduced production of bioactive metabolites, and if not grown on Birch will lack the beneficial compound Betulinic acid.
phenolic compounds, melanins, lanostane-type triterpenoids, betulinic acid, sterols, and polysaccharides.
Origin: Russia - Wildharvested
Chaga is typically and traditionally ingested as a tea, although some of the compunds such as betulinic acid are much more readily soluble in alcohol and as such a tincture is the superior method of consumption. There have been reports of it being the base for liqueurs and as a substitute for hops in beer. The smallest amount of Chaga, less than a gram can be used to make over a liter of tea.
Chaga is predominantly found in Poland, Russia, Korea, and throughout North America. Recent studies in China and Korea have shown that that Chaga is extremely high in anti-oxidants and shows very strong immune system balancing properties. It has been sold in Russia since the 1960's as Befunigin, as a cancer cure, and is commonly used in many Russian households as a general tonic. If you are using Chaga for the purpose of making a tea, you can re-brew your material a second time without loss to flavor or potency.
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