Origin: Northern Hemisphere forested areas. The historical use of this fungus is thought to have originated in Siberia where the indigenous Shamans of the area gave it the title of ‘King of Mushrooms’. With evidence dating back to the 16th century and beyond, the people of Russia and parts of Eastern Europe have utilized Chaga for varying applications ranging from fuel, drums and of course for medicinal purposes. There are also indications that Chaga could have been used as far as China hundreds of years ago.
Other recognizable names: Tinder mushroom, clinker polypore (from its resemblance to the slag left after a coal fire, known commonly as a “clinker” when coal fires were common), cinder conk, black mass and birch canker polypore. In England and officially in Canada, it is known as the sterile conk trunk rot of birch. In France, it is called the carie blanche spongieuse de bouleau (spongy white birch tree rot), and in Germany it is known as Schiefer Schillerporling (oblique Inonotus). The Dutch name is berkenweerschijnzwam (birch glow mushroom). In Norwegian, the name is kreftkjuke which literally translates as “cancer polypore”, referring to the fungus’ appearance or to its alleged medicinal properties. In Finnish, the name is pakurikääpä.
Accounts date back as far as 1000 BCE in Traditional Chinese Medicine, with it being used to balance the body’s life force or “Chi” energy and to boost the immune system.
Chaga mushrooms are especially high in a compound called super-oxide dismutase (SOD), this is an enzyme which reduces the damage done to cells by “super-oxide”, the most common free radical in the body. Studies have shown that SOD acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, with researchers now investigating the potential of it as an anti-aging treatment as it is known that, as we age, SOD levels drop whilst free radicals increase. Super-oxide dismutase also aids the body in using zinc, copper and manganese. Naturally synthesized and with a biological power unmatched, Chaga provides SOD in a highly bioavailable form which we can utilize either topically or internally.
Along with most other medicinal mushrooms, Chaga is rich in beta-glucans – one of the most potent and healing polysaccharides known. It is renowned for its role in in activating the immune system and reducing the blood sugar of people who have abnormal blood sugar peaks.
These powerful fungi are one of the most alkaline foods on earth due to their dense mineral content: Calcium, cesium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, rubidium, silicon and sulphur and extremely high in zinc. It is thought that many diseases are unable to flourish in an alkaline environment.
Chaga is highly regarded as an adaptogen – adaptogens are a unique group of phytonutrients which help your body adjust to stressful circumstances ranging from extreme heat or cold to infections or trauma.