Chaga mushroom is an immune system adaptogen. The “king of all mushrooms”, Chaga is an alchemic immune system adaptogen and gram for gram is probably the most potent antioxidant on Earth.
The Chaga mushroom is one of the most fascinating species of Fungi in the medicinal mushroom group. Containing a rainbow spectrum phytonutrients, Chaga is a polypore mushroom, meaning it has pores instead of the usual gills that we commonly see with fungi growth. The exterior of the mushroom grows like burnt black charcoal on the trucks of Birch trees. When you slice a Chaga growth open, a Golden Orange colour greets your vision, which upon touch feels like a cork.
Chaga is the highest source of melanin in the world, which means Chaga is of invaluable relevance to Pineal Gland activation. Melanin converts to Melatonin in the body, and helps supports the production of Melatonin within the Pineal Gland. This fact makes Chaga mushroom and its effects on Melatonin surplus, a powerful Third Eye activator agent, enabling Third Eye awakening, so we can more readily access our intuitive and Universal / Source nature, along with increased consciousness, clairvoyance, Oneness, spiritual awareness, and experience of the Divine lessons and revelations.
Latin name – Inonotus obliquus
Namesake – King of all Mushrooms
Chinese Monk, Shen Nong – “Precious Gift of Nature”, in his book dated 100 B.C
The Chaga tree of choice to enthrone on is the Birch tree. Found widely across regions of Russia, many States of America and Canada, it is the white and yellow birch trees found in the Northern hemisphere where the Chaga mushroom has been known to grow most prolifically. Apart from Birch trees, Chaga is also capable of inhabiting Alder, Oak, Elm, Poplar, and Beech trees. However, the Chaga used for medicinal purposes is wild-crafted from Birch trees that grow mainly in Northern Russia, in particular, Siberia (known as wild Siberian Chaga), as this ensures the highest quality of medicinal Chaga available in nature.
Most of the health benefits contained within Chaga, come from the Birch tree itself. This means that Chaga Fungus draws out dense amounts of nutrient concentrates found in the Birch Tree. Acting as an alchemist, Chaga then transforms these Birch tree nutrients into bio-active compounds that are easily digested by human beings. In nutritional science, compounds that are easily digested, or absorbed through the intestinal walls, are called Bio-available, meaning biologically available. Here are some of the bioavailable vitamins and minerals found in dense proportions within the Chaga mushroom; zinc, selenium (brain nutrient), a range of B vitamins, iron, absorbable vitamin D with calcium (vitamin D and calcium compliment each other) magnesium and manganese, along with rubidium, a list of essential amino acids, copper and potassium.
The medicinal and health promoting super-powers of the Chaga mushroom are highly acclaimed across continents and countries such as Russia, Europe, China, Finland, the United States, and Canada. Although Chaga has made for itself a reputation of medicinal royal status, it also has a more down to earth reputation of practicality too. Practical uses of Chaga have seen this fungus make a perfect slow-burning wood, used to make campfires, and act as a natural clothing dye, used to adorn bland material with its yellow-orange and dark charcoal pigments. Due to its slightly bitter-to-the-tongue taste, Chaga has sometimes been used as a coffee substitute in parts of Finland.
As far as the Fungi Kingdom goes, Chaga has a host of health benefits capable of chivalrously slaying any of its mushroom rivals. Read on to see why the Chaga mushroom is Ruler of the Kingdom of Medicinal Mushrooms:
Safeguarding of DNA
A fascinating health benefit of Chaga is the high concentrations of an antioxidant called Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) which is a type of anti-viral and anti-inflammatory antioxidant. The good thing about the SOD contained in Chaga, is that it made available to us in bioavailable form, meaning it is easily digested and dispersed throughout the body, and which upon digestion acts as a bodyguard whose sole purpose is to protect our genetic code/DNA from oxidative stress, which can cause mutations and damage to our genes.
Chaga has been implicated in Mushroom immunology studies to be a serious contributor to immune system modulation. Chaga contains immunomodulating active substances that include activation of cells that contribute to how well our immune system works to fight off pathogens and disease. Chaga can increase our immune function by boosting the production of cells such as lymphocytes (which are white blood cells, present mainly in the lymphatic system), macrophages (a phagocytic cell found in our tissue, and also acts as a mobile white blood cell that rushes to the site of an infection) and natural killer cells, known as NK cells, in particular T-cells which are able to locate and destroy any compromised cells that contain within them bacteria or are cancerously mutating. Ingesting Chaga also results in our body producing Cytokines. These immune-boosting Cytokine cells are chemical messengers that communicate between cells about incoming attacks, instructing other cells on what to do to neutralise the opponents, which are usually disease or infection-causing pathogens. Consumption of the Chaga mushroom leads to an increased production of the cytokine known as interleukin 6 (IL-6). This significantly enhances the effectiveness of our immune response and studies in mice have shown large increases in Cytokine production upon ingestion of Chaga. Food has what is called an ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) to measure the antioxidant load per gram. The wonder mushroom that is Chaga has one of the highest ORAC scores ever recorded. A high ORAC score, coupled with a high concentration of bioavailable compounds, make this mushroom an ultimate fighter of disease-causing cells, immune system supporter capable of protecting us from free-radicals and greatly reducing the oxidative stress load on our internal systems. Chaga’s adaptogenic nature ensures we can successfully increase our resistance to stress —both psychological and oxidative and to trauma, anxiety and physical fatigue states.
With an array of immune enhancing polysaccharides, which stimulate our immune system’s natural innate response intelligence, and which also helps our immunity to adapt to incoming dangers, improving our immune system’s performance on delayed immune responses too. In animal studies, Chaga has been shown to greatly enhance the production of T lymphocytes (T-cells) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which both help to bolster our immune system. A powerful ability to engage cells associated with immune strength makes Chaga the go-to mushroom for neutralising incoming bacteria, viruses, and disease causing contaminants from the environment. Studies have also been shown, that spleen lymphocytes are stimulated into production by compounds contained in Chaga. These spleen lymphocytes have a direct impact on our overall immunity and immune system functionality. Chaga mushroom contains anti-viral compounds known as triterpenes, one of which is Betulin. Betulin is absorbed by the Chaga, from the birch bark, and is then converted to Betulinic Acid —which is one of the main active compounds in Chaga Mushroom. Betulinic Acid, which is one of the most powerful antivirals so far identified within the scientific community. Not only is Betulinic Acid an anti-tumor compound, but it is also a warrior single-handedly capable of neutralising pathogens that we can pick up on a daily basis, in the form of environmental pollution and chemical toxins that affect our health in negative ways. Chaga mushrooms’ double directional adaptogenic abilities ensure we are able to create a balanced immune system response to pathogens. This greatly assists our internal bodily systems in the bid to maintain health-promoting homeostasis.
Slows Tumour Growth
As a leading cause of death on a global level, with approximately 14 million reported cases each year, demand for successful cancer treatments are constantly increasing.
Although studies have been conducted on mice thus far, with human studies awaiting trial, studies on Chaga’s effect on cancerous tumours in mice, have demonstrated the potent anti-tumour activities of the compounds found in Chaga. Mycologists and pharmacologists have been researching the cancer suppression potential of Chaga, and its ability to suppress defunct cell proliferation, along with inducing apoptosis, which is known as programmed cell death (to induce cell suicide if that cell causes a threat to the organism). Findings are suggestive of Chaga’s role in the arrest of tumour growths and/or reduction in the size of tumours. Betulinic Acid is a pentacyclic triterpenoid compound that Chaga absorbs from birch trees, making it available to humans. Betulinic Acid is a researched anti-tumour compound. Chaga has demonstrated potential as an inhibitor of melanoma in humans. The direct Norwegian translation of Chaga mushroom means cancer fungus, which illustrates the potential benefits of Chaga against tumour growth. Studies are ongoing and the Chaga mushroom is starting to gain significant recognition for its tumour suppression potential and anti-mutagenic compounds. In 1968, Russian novelist Aleksander Solzhenitsyn published a book called Cancer Ward. This book became popular read in Europe. Solzhenitsyn writes about a Tea made from the birch tree fungus that has healing compounds which seem to be benefiting cancer patients. Chaga has also been purported to have Chemo-protective qualities, assisting our liver to rid our body of chemical toxins produced in some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Defends Against Autoimmune Disorders
Compounds found in Chaga mushroom are especially powerful anti-inflammatories. When it comes to autoimmune disorders, Chaga is pure Gold in terms of being an immunomodulator, or we could say “modulator of the immune system”, helping the immune system maintains balance and if needed, acts on its greatest potential. Considering autoimmune disorders are based on an imbalance of the immune system, we can see here the implications of Chaga on autoimmunity. An autoimmune response or disorder is where the bodies natural inflammatory response (to defend us against risks to cellular integrity, such as bacteria) gets stuck in “on mode”. This leads to chronic inflammation, which is a case of the body’s immune system demonstrating confusion and attacking good cells and well as diseased cells. This attack on our good cells causes damage to healthy tissue. Chaga’s proven immunomodulator properties can have positive effects on autoimmunity. Chaga was also found to strengthen gut bacteria and positively impact gut immunity. Which in turn, positively impacts our general health and immunity. Chaga is considered to be the world’s foremost mushroom to help with autoimmune disorders, of which incidence of autoimmune disorders is increasing each year. Chaga also plays a lead role in regulating cytokine production, which helps our body to control the level of inflammation our immune system exhibits. This is another reason why Chaga can be beneficial in the body’s quest for renewed immune balance and reduction in symptoms associated with inflammation and tissue damage caused by autoimmune disorders and disease.
IBS / Chron’s / Gastrointestinal Anti-Inflammatory
Chaga mushroom has been traditionally used in Russia to not only treat digestive issues and has been proven to help with gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and Chron’s disease. A lot of traditional uses of Chaga have focused on healing and soothing the digestive tract. In supporting the GI tract and reducing associated inflammation, Gut health is also improved. When Giut health is improved, overall health is better supported, considering out Gut is seen as our true immune system. A 2012 study, suggested that Chaga was capable of suppressing inflammation in the intestine related to colitis.
High in Beta-glucans, Chaga mushroom also contains an array of long-chain polysaccharides. Along with being rich in polysaccharides which are known to provide several benefits to skin, Chaga is also mineral rich — and minerals are the building blocks of our hair, nails, and skin. Chaga has been found to keep our skin hydrated, along with being able to regenerate our skin tissue. Chaga contains the world most dense source of Melanin which is the same pigment found in human skin and the coloured pigments of our eyes. Melanin supports our hair colour, protects our skin from sun damage (acts as a type of internal sunscreen), helping with age spots related to sun damage or nutritional deficiencies or an imbalanced distribution of Melanin. Bearing all of this in mind, Chaga can justifiably be called a Beauty Mushroom. However, it can also be called a Pineal Gland mushroom. Once Chaga Melanin is consumed, it supports the production of Melatonin in the Pineal Gland. Increased Melatonin production equals a healthier functioning Pineal Gland, better sleep and a greater possibility for Third Eye activation.