Chaga Mushroom Guide

Comprehensive and Complete Guide to Chaga Mushrooms



What You Need To Know About Chaga

Chaga, also known as “Birch mushroom”, is a polypore fungus, which means that it has pores instead of the typical mushroom gills. It usually grows on birch trees and is considered among the top of the medicinal mushroom family.

The color of this mushroom is black, with a cracked mass that is irregular in shape. Being a fungal parasite, it draws its food from the nutrients of the trees where it attaches itself. It grows in the wild and is not usually cultivated.

ChagaLifecycle of Chaga
Chaga has a 20-year micro-ecological cycle which starts when a carpophore, the fruiting body of a higher fungi, enters the wound of a mature birch tree. The mushroom grows under the bark and blisters through it forming a bizarre-looking black conk on the trunk. The conk grows with the tree, under the harsh Siberian weather. It lives on the nutrients from the birch tree for 5 to 7 years. When the conk fully ripens, it will fall to the forest floor. Within a short time, the host tree will also die, because all its life force has been depleted. 

Chaga’s Natural Habitat
The natural habitat of Chaga is found in the birch forests of the coldest parts of the Northern hemisphere. These are the birch forests of countries such as Russia, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and Korea. It can also be found in the United States, especially in North Carolina, as well as in Canada. The mushroom is harvested on selected birch trees only once in 20 years. Harvesting of Chaga is very selective; out of 100 trees harvested, only 2 % to 3 % of the harvested Chaga are certified as being of “superior grade”.

Chaga’s History
For thousands of years, Chaga has been used to strengthen the immune system, detoxify the body and to extend the span of life. This fungus was been documented as early as 4,600 years ago in Chinese medicine where it earned the names: “King of the Herbs” and “A Gift from God”.

Chaga is used for the treatment of many forms of cancers and tumors in the Siberian regions. It is also used for treating digestive disorders as well as different kinds of bacterial and viral infections. The local people in the Siberian Mountains prepare it in powder form and drink it as tea. They also inhaled its smoke and apply it to their skin to heal their rashes and skin injuries.

Due to their regular consumption of Chaga, these indigenous people have very low oncologic diseases. Many of them have been documented to live for over 100 years.

But Chaga was completely unknown to the rest of the world until the famous author Alexander Solzhenitsyn mentioned it in his book “Cancer Ward”. In the book, he mentioned how Chaga was able to heal the cancerous diseases of some of the book’s characters.

Today, Chaga is acknowledged as a “cancer-tumor herb” and is very much sought after in Asia and the rest of the world as a “cure-all” herbal medicine.

Chaga’s Components
An examination of Chaga’s components will give us an idea why it has extraordinary healing powers.

The primary active ingredients of Chaga are special mushroom carbohydrates, also known as polysaccharides/beta-glucans. These substances can enhance the feel-good chemicals in the brain. They can also benefit the intestine, slow down digestion, boost liver function and increase energy.

There is also a chemical substance called betuli/betulinic acid which can only be found in this mushroom specie. Research shows that betulinic acid can kill cancer cells without damaging normal cells. It was discovered recently that this substance has an inhibition effect on topoisomerase – the enzyme that regulates the over winding or under winding of our DNA strands. Combined with the actions of polysaccharides, Chaga is indeed a very potent agent that can be used as a dietary supplement to promote good health.

Aside from these main active ingredients, Chaga also contains several phystosterols (mainly inotodiol and lanostero). This mushroom also contains high amounts of melanin which is a natural antioxidant. Melanin is also responsible for the black color, as well as giving it the highest antioxidant levels of all natural foods.

How to Get the Best of Chaga
These days, Chaga is available in bottles containing Chaga extract. A typical bottle will contain about 2 fluid ounces of Chage extract. This should last you for about 45 days. It is also available in powder and crushed tea form. Be careful to buy only those which are authentic Siberian Chaga because some of the Chaga products are virtually worthless. Be sure to ask for the Certificate of Analysis. An honest supplier of Chaga will have no problem in giving you this.  

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