Chaga! Chaga!

A cup of Four Sigmatic Chaga. Photo by M.C.

Chaga! Chaga! Kinda like “Toga! Toga!” John Belushi’s character “Bluto” said in Animal House. I discovered chaga about two or three months ago via Medical Medium. I have tried three brands. And not all chaga is equal.

What is it? Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch trees in the Appalachian Mountains and northwest of United States, Canada, Russia, and Korea. It protrudes from most often birch trees infected with parasitic, non-toxic fungus Inonotus Obliquus. My question is can you get parasites from drinking these brown and yellow-orange fungi? Chaga is anti-parasitical. According to WebMD people take chaga to rid themselves of parasites. I’m drinking it like tea every day with lunch.

From what I understand, chaga heals birch trees and has a symbiotic relationship by feeding on the tree’s nutrients and compounds. So really we are getting benefits from the birch tree. And if you have a sickly birch tree insert chaga into the splinter or bark and it may recover.

What does chaga do? Chaga is like a cure-all. It’s considered a sacred antioxidant and anti-ager by preventing or delaying cell damage. It is rich in vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, and E. It’s a source for minerals such as calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc. It also has anti-bacterial, anti-candida, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-parasite properties. Because it has betulinic acid, which kills cancer cells on contact, it is known as an anti-cancer and anti-tumor food. Betulinic acid also breaks down LDL cholesterol and normalizes blood pressure.

As I’ve mentioned before, chaga strengthens the immune system, which we all need right now concerning the virus. It’s the Beta-D-Glucans in chaga that modulate the immune system, and helps with normalizing cholesterol levels and blood sugar. It also helps those with an autoimmune disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s disease, lymphoma, bursitis, shingles, and PCOS. It also cleanses the liver.

It helps those with HIV and reduces symptoms and secondary diseases caused by HIV. Chaga contains the highest levels of superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that promotes the breakdown of free radicals. It’s effective in treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, gout, scleroderma, osteoarthritis, and cataracts. I watched a neighbor slowly die from Lou Gehrig’s disease—it seemed like ten years she deteriorated in front of her three young children. She and her husband were skiing when she was hit with the disease. She was in a wheel chair, then bed ridden, and then fed via a tube. I don’t think chaga could have turned her situation around, but maybe chaga is better if taken as preventative medicine say if you had a parent with Lou Gehrig’s. Genetic and environmental factors play a part in LGD.

The anti-inflammatory properties help those with irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, colitis, cystitis, tendonitis, edema, asthma, celiac disease, and acne.

Have I noticed a difference? Right now my health is good. Chaga contains structural polysaccharides within its chitin walls, which provide energy. I haven’t noticed a burst of energy. I’ll have to give it some time.

An interesting fact about chaga is birch fungus was found on Özti, the Iceman, naturally mummified in the Italian Alps over 5,000 years ago. He lived to be 45 years old. He had two different kinds of mushrooms strung on leather strips. And he did have parasites in his intestines. I wonder if that is why he had chaga on him.

Four Sigmatic is my favorite brand. Field mint and rose hips are added to the Mushroom Elixir Mix with Chaga. A box of 20-0.1 ounces is $38 dollars, which is $1.90 per cup. I have seen the samples at the health food store for $1.99 each. Renaissance Man says it tastes like mushroom broth. I don’t add any sugar. The mint added makes a difference. I bought the Instant Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane for him and he loves it. The coffee packets are the same size as the elixir and have chaga in them. Ten servings or cups is $15 dollars.

If you don’t like mushrooms then either pass on chaga or buy the Four Sigmatic one sample size to see if you like it. You might be able to enjoy drinking mushrooms since you’re not chewing slimy fungus. The benefits seem too enormous to pass up. Also some botanists are not sure chaga is a mushroom.

I also tried chaga by Root & Bones. It doesn’t have anything added so it didn’t have as much flavor, but I like it for plain chaga plus I need it for cooking. For four ounces, I paid $41 dollars.

Then I tried OM chaga because the store didn’t have the other brands. The price was about $25 dollars for 3 ounces, which is good for chaga. But it didn’t mix well. It wasn’t as strong and I wonder if that has to do with the light color. And of course with the coronavirus you can’t return vitamins. I’ll try it for a soup broth next time I make veggie soup. And I’ll use it to make Chaga Ice Cream.

I have never seen a food do so much. Chaga benefits everyone and I couldn’t find any side effects. WebMD did caution taking chaga with medications, but didn’t give a reason why. Definitely, I need to keep researching chaga. Even better, I hope I find some on a birch tree.

Copyright 2020 Melissa Crismon