Chaga and its Top 5 Benefits
We often refer to Reishi as the Queen of mushrooms, and as an adaptogenic powerhouse Chaga reigns as King.
Revered for centuries across Eastern Europe as a supreme healer for a variety of ailments, today Chaga mushroom is celebrated as a potent adaptogen with over 200 bioactive compounds which work to bolster the body’s resilience against physical and environmental stress.
Chaga is found in the wild growing on birch trees in cold regions such as Siberia, northern Canada, Alaska, and some northern parts of the United States. Having a symbiotic relationship with the birches on which they grow, Chaga is thought to often help to heal the trees. As it grows, Chaga harnesses the life force of the tree. The growth feeds on the nutrients and compounds found in the birch tree, predigesting the birch’s nutrients, concentrating them in a form that when extracted, is more readily available to humans.
Chaga, also known as Inonotus obliquus, is not technically a mushroom but rather a dense sterile mass (sclerotia) of birch wood fibre and mycelium. It’s not the most handsome ‘mushroom’ you’ll find out in the wild, looking like something close to a large, gnarly lump of coal sprouting from the trunk of a birch tree.
The blackened outer crust of Chaga is a concentrated source of melanin, which has a variety of benefits for the body including DNA repair, supporting mitochondrial health, and giving the skin, hair and iris of our eyes their colour. The golden, orange inside of wild-harvested Chaga is a result of the betulinic acid which is known to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic effects.
Chaga is coveted as a powerful skin nourishing, immune building, and energy potentiating adaptogen, considered to promote whole-body resilience, increase vitality, and protect against the ageing process.
It's safe to say that this powerful shroom has a special place in our hearts. Read on as we explore Chaga and its top 5 benefits.
Anti-Ageing & Anti-Inflammatory
Chaga is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants in the world and one of the richest natural substances of anti-ageing, antioxidant enzyme SOD (superoxide dismutase). SOD occurs naturally in different forms in all human tissues, but our levels decline with age, particularly after 30. SOD neutralises free radicals, preventing oxidative damage to cells and tissues. Inflammatory foods and other factors such as chronic stress, environmental pollutants and lack of sleep cause an increase in oxidative stress and the production of free radicals which have a direct link to the signs of the ageing process we might notice externally as well as internally. Further to this studies have revealed that Chaga has the potential to modulate the release of specific cytokines such as interferon, interleukin and other growth factors involved in inflammation.
By managing the factors we can control like prioritising sleep, minimising stressors and eating a nourishing diet rich in antioxidant foods such as Chaga and leafy greens we're able to support our SOD levels and keep inflammation levels low, improving the function and structure of our cells. This can help protect against the signs of premature ageing, states of disease and keep inflammation at bay.
Skin Radiance & Protection
Chaga medicinal mushroom extract is often used as a hero ingredient in cosmetic products as an antioxidant and anti-ageing ingredient, and again it’s due to Chaga’s hard-working SOD (superoxide dismutase) content. When free radicals become too abundant in the body due to sun damage, stress, or pollution SOD can work against free radical damage to the skin helping with dark spots, fine lines, wound healing and sun damage.
What’s more, with its abundant melanin content, Chaga can offer some extra skin protection from the sun. Melanin is responsible for your skin pigment, but it also is important for your overall skin health. The more melanin you have the less sensitive your skin is to sun and windburn, free radicals and toxins in the air. But in saying this nothing offers better protection from UV rays than covering up when you’re enjoying some sunshine.
As an anti-inflammatory powerhouse Chaga is also often used to help manage cases of psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder characterised by the rapid build-up of skin cells. A 1973 study administered a Chaga extract to 50 patients suffering acute psoriasis 3 times a day for periods of up to 2 years. The results were positive with the study resulting in psoriatic rashes disappearing in 75% of patients and greatly reducing in 16%.
Endurance & Fatigue Support
Chaga is often used by athletes and those of us participating in intense physical activity for its ability to promote stamina and alleviate fatigue. For our resident CrossFit warrior Dan, a Chaga and Cordyceps combo is his pre-workout go-to!
A recent animal study revealed that the beta-d-glucans in Chaga may increase physical activity tolerance observing higher energy stores and a reduction in the signs of fatigue such as lactic acid.
Immune Support & Anti-Viral
Like many medicinal mushrooms, Chaga a powerful adaptogen, is abundant in beta-d-glucans which can help support the body’s stress response and modulate the immune system bringing it closer to balance if it is underactive (increasing the activity of Natural Killer cells) or overactive (in the case of autoimmune conditions or allergies). The compounds in Chaga have been studied for both their immunomodulating and immune-stimulating potential.
Chaga is also thought to have anti-viral properties due to its range of compounds such as betulin and mycosterols. Chaga is unique in that it derives constituents from the birch tree itself, betulin and betulinic acid. The betulinic acid in Chaga is being studied to assess its potential for inhibiting and suppressing viral activity.
The Khanty people indigenous to North-Western Siberia, are thought to be the first to discover that Chaga could be used for healing purposes, grinding it down to use in soups and tea. They were said to have used it for a variety of ailments including digestive and gastrointestinal issues. Science is continuing to validate the path laid by traditional herbal wisdom, with Chaga being shown to help reduce digestive inflammation, support gastro-intestinal healing and healthy gut mucosa, as well as help to heal and prevent stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori
How to enjoy Chaga
Visually it’s hard to tell the difference between a long black coffee and a Chaga tea. With its deep, robust flavour and energy-enhancing potential, Chaga can be a great coffee substitute if you’re looking to take a break from caffeine and the crash that often comes with it. To make a cup of Chaga tea it’s as easy as adding a ¼ tsp of Chaga extract to a cup of warm water and stirring a few times to dissolve.
If you’re yet to experience Chaga, now might be the time to do so. Check out our potent Chaga extract sourced from Siberia with greater than 30% beta-d-glucans ( the active compounds ) here.
Inner Atlas Chaga
- Highly potent, containing greater than 30% beta-D-glucans.
- Sustainably wild-harvested from Siberian Birch trees.
- Certified USDA & EU Organic.
- Fruiting body only – 100% real mushrooms with no added fillers or mycelium.
- Lab-tested for purity.