The Chaga Mushroom seems to be the “IT” ingredient and supplement in the beauty, health and wellness industry right now. Whether it’s brewed in a coffee or applied to the skin, this amazing mushroom seems to have benefits that science is dutifully backing up with clinical studies! Let’s take a look at what Chaga actually is, how it can be used, and what its top benefits are for your health, wellness and beauty!
What IS Chaga?
Chaga is a medicinal fungus that grows on Birch Trees. It is predominately found in Siberia, Canada and cooler climates of the United States like Alaska and Northern, Wisconsin. Its use dates back several centuries during which it was used to treat anything from skin conditions to digestive ailments, although the most recent research on the fungus highlights its incredible immune boosting properties. For this reason, further studies on Chaga are being steered towards cancer treatment research.
Although called a mushroom, Chaga has a very “un” mushroom like appearance. In essence, it looks like a large chunk of burnt charcoal with a rusty colored interior. It is not abnormal for the fungus to reach up to a foot in diameter and weigh over 30 pounds! Like a goldfish that grow to fit the size of its enclosure, the Chaga Mushroom grows with the Birch Tree it is affixed to. In fact, they have a symbiotic relationship, as the fungus helps keep the tree healthy and can even assist it in recovery from illness!
How Has Chaga Been Used in the Past?
It appears that Inuit Siberians were the first to medicinally use the Chaga fungus. Indigenous people shaved and ground down the fungus and used it as an additive in soups, stews and drinking broths to ward off degenerative diseases, curb hunger, and enhance endurance. They also brewed a “soap water” with the fungus to be used as a wound and skin disinfectant. In turn, it was historically noted that these people had increased life spans compared to other Siberian regions.
Early Eastern Europeans focused their use of the Chaga Mushroom on the treatment of skin conditions. Here, it was used to treat disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and other inflammatory ailments. It was also used in the treatment of bronchitis and multiple respiratory disorders.
What are the Current Health Benefits of the Chaga Mushroom?
Disease Treatment & Prevention
Scientists are very excited about a certain component in Chaga called “Ergosterol Peroxide.” In the lab, it has been shown to have properties that are anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, anti-viral and anti-tumor. In fact, Chaga has been approved to treat several kinds of cancer in Russia since the early 1950’s! It appears that the betulinic acid found in the fungus invokes “apoptosis,” or cell death in cancer cells. This prevents tumors from growing.
A Potent & Powerful Antioxidant
There is almost no competitor to the antioxidant prowess of Chaga. It effectively neutralizes the damage caused by free radicals and, therefore, slows the aging process in skin and organ systems. It is therefore being studied in topical skincare products as well as ingestible supplements for anti-aging purposes.
Calms Inflammatory Conditions
Whether caused by disease, or lifestyle conditions such as stress, compounds within Chaga, such as betulinic acid, fight inflammation within the body. Multiple studies are being conducted to study its use in the treatment of ulcers and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).
Keeps Cholesterol Levels in Check
Your heart can benefit from Chaga as well! The betulinic acid within the fungus appears to help break down BAD, or LDL, cholesterol in the body. This causes less strain on the heart, possibly making it useful for those suffering from hypertension.
Aids in Digestion & Liver Detox
The most common preparation for Chaga is within a coffee or tea. Many note the positive impact it has on their digestion, especially after meals. Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers also note that the Chaga brew seems to ease the pain of their condition. In addition, it’s an excellent source of fiber for overall colon health!
Going beyond digestion, research also suggests that Chaga has both detoxifying and reparative effects on our liver. In fact, a 2015 study found that Chaga extract significantly reduced the levels of liver damage in groups of pre-treated rats that had been exposed to chemically induced liver damage.
Skin Health & UV Protection
Chaga has an incredibly high melanin, or pigment, content. This is evident in its dark exterior and rich caramel interior. In addition, we already discussed its immense antioxidant properties. These characteristics, along with its disinfecting and anti-inflammatory properties, make it a much desired and studied ingredient in skincare products. Topically applied, it appears to calm inflammation, provide some degree of sun protection, and even lighten the appearance of sun spots!
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Birch & Chaga Soap
Determined Body Wash with Birch & Chaga
Purifying Facial Wash with Birch & Chaga
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