People the world over are fast becoming savvy to the health benefits of mushrooms. The edible ones, that is! Whether you sprinkle them on other foods, prepare them as a tea or absorb them into your skin as a lotion, mushrooms are an incredibly awesome way to add extra nutrients to your system. The Chaga mushroom is one that is getting more attention, and with good reason.
Chaga is actually a fungus from the genus called Inonotus. In Latin, this means “to penetrate,” and it reflects the reproductive nature of Chaga’s spores and how they find their way to a crevice on their host tree (largely birch trees.) In the wild, Chaga looks like a black growth sticking out from the base of the tree. It has a hard exterior, is roughly textured with a bright orange center and a texture similar to cork.
Here are many health benefits of Chaga.
- Boosts your Immunity. Chaga encourages proteins that are vital for cellular communication. So much so that the system can better combat threats posed by viruses in infection-causing agents.
- Combats the symptoms of cancer. Studies have suggested that the botulinic acid found in Chaga helps to slow the growth of tumours associated with breast, cervical and lung cancers. There is evidence the Chaga mushrooms may have cancer-preventing properties.
- Enhances digestion. Issues with the digestive system are a growing problem, especially in the North America. Consuming the Chaga mushroom can relieve suffering from bloating and promote the production of good digestive enzymes to efficiently digest food.
- Lowers blood sugar. The wonderful properties of Chaga have also known to help Type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels in the body.
- Slows down the ageing process. Chaga is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the side effects of age exposure to the sun. In this way, it can definitely be referred to as a type of ‘fountain of youth.’ It decreases the development of gray hairs and wrinkles. Antioxidants are important in counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals which cause cell damage and cell death.
- Enhances endurance. Chaga is rich in polysaccharides, which help our bodies convert food to usable energy. Athletes who take Chaga as a regular part of their diet have shown to perform longer without fatigue. Backpackers in the know also like to take the fungi before on long hikes in the wilderness, to help with stamina on the trail.
- Fight inflammation. Chaga helps with reducing inflammation, and also reduces the risk of developing inflammation disorders.
- Supports cognitive function & memory. The Chaga mushroom restores levels of acetylcholine which is reduced by stress, and this is a neurotransmitter associated with cognitive function. Again, antioxidants play a key role here.
How to Best Consume Chaga
There are various ways to consume Chaga. It can be eaten raw; however, it is difficult for the body to complete digest raw Chaga and obtain its beneficial nutrients. Most people take it in powder form as a capsule or drink it in tea. The extraction process for tea making helps make Chaga’s active components much more digestible by humans to fully get the mushroom’s health benefits. Chaga can also be incorporated into lotions and soaps, for topical use on the skin.