With countless species, the world of mushrooms can seem like a minefield. However, this nutrient dense powerhouse has earned its place in the superfood’s realm for good reason. Being incredibly nutrient rich and high in antioxidants, the health benefits that can be attributed to mushrooms are a plenty, but to make it easier to digest for now, let’s just focus on one Mushroom species – the Chaga Mushroom.
What is it?
It’s fair to say that there are not many, if any, good looking mushrooms – and the chaga is no exception. Unlike many other mushroom varieties, you’ve won’t find the Chaga mushroom growing on the ground. Instead, it is found primarily on birch trees. You would be forgiven for mistaking the chaga mushroom for anything other than a mushroom. Usually a charcoal black colour, the Chaga mushroom looks more like a misshapen growth or burnt part of a tree, and
this is partly because it is a parasitic organism, meaning that it needs a live tree to grow and feed on. The black appearance of the Chaga mushroom is due to the high volume of melanin that is present in the mushroom. You may have heard of melanin before, it is the pigment that is responsible for determining skin and hair colour in humans.
The Chaga mushroom is home in much cooler climates than we experience in Australia, usually found with our friends in the Northern Hemisphere – places such as Russia, Canada, and Northern European Countries. When we use Chaga Mushroom as a health supplement, we will usually find it in liquid, capsule, or powder form, where it can be ingested on its own, or as an
addition to food and beverages. Now that we have an idea of what a Chaga Mushroom is, let’s have a look at why it’s good.
What is Chaga Mushroom good for?
Having been used in Eastern herbalism for centuries, the positive benefits of mushrooms have been widely accepted for a long time in these cultures, but in the western world, while there is a lot of excitement, there is also a bit of confusion around the benefits of mushrooms. Given the popularity of the superfood, a lot of time and research is being put into mushrooms, and their
benefits. While research is still being conducted there are some pretty stand out features that the chaga mushroom can bring to the table – let’s have a look at these and what they can do for us.
The chaga mushroom is a superstar when it comes to nutrients and antioxidants. Packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, the chaga mushroom has an incredibly high ranking on the ORAC scale. The Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity (ORAC) is a test that aims to
quantify the total antioxidant capacity of a food – and when it comes to chaga mushrooms, they beat out other superfoods including Acai and Blueberries on this scale. This is important, because antioxidants play a vital role in maintaining our health and wellbeing by protecting our cells and molecules from the damaging effects of free radicals. With its high level of antioxidants, the Chaga Mushroom is an excellent way to support the health of your body.
Strengthen and Boost Your Immune System
Because of this high level of antioxidants, the chaga mushroom is believed to aid in the strengthening and boosting of the immune system. One way we can remain healthy is by being pre-emptive, and that’s where superfoods and supplements come into play. Some studies of the immune system of mice and the effects of chaga have shown that chaga mushrooms regulated the production of cytokines, which are the chemical messengers of the immune
system. These chemical messengers play a part in stimulating white blood cells, which are important in defending our body against illnesses.
Supports Healthy Inflammatory Responses
As mentioned above, chaga has been shown to regulate the production of cytokines which can help in controlling inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response from our immune systems in fighting against disease and illness. However, we want to avoid long term inflammation as this has been linked to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. What the chaga is thought to be
able to do, is regulate this production of cytokines, resulting in the creation of beneficial cytokines that promote the overall regulation of our immune system, so we can fight off viruses, bacteria and illnesses, all while promoting the production of the good cytokines.
Provide Balance and Promote Healthy Stress Responses
Complimentary to the above support, the Chaga Mushroom aids in providing overall balance in the health of our bodies. The Chaga Mushroom is an adaptogen, meaning it can provide support and/or relief to the areas that we may need it the most. Whether it’s to fight off illness, boost our immune systems, recover, or avoid being overworked and worn out, an adaptogen can offer support to many of the systems in our bodies. When our bodies are under stress for prolonged periods of time, the healing processes in our bodies can be affected, but an adaptogen, when taken consistently can provide support in the areas you may be lacking in. When taken consistently the chaga mushroom (or any other adaptogen) will promote your body’s resilience and ability to respond, adapt and process stressors.
The Chaga Mushroom’s ability to support and boost your immune system, while also aiding in promoting healthy responses to stressors, makes it an enticing addition to any supplement routine. Available in capsule, tincture and powder form, the Chaga Mushroom can be taken on its own or mixed with your daily meals or beverages. Always ensure you use the recommended and correct dosage each time.