Well, Chaga is no longer a folk medicine known only to the Russians. Since Alexander Solzhenitsyn published Cancer Ward, more than 1,600 scientific research papers have investigated the health benefits associated with Chaga (2).
What began as a biological oddity in the northern forests has now become a widely respected super-food for health conscious folks all across the globe.
At this point in the article, you might be wondering about the flavor of Chaga.
Well, fortunately, Chaga tastes much better than it looks. When broken up and mixed in a tea, the mushroom has a pleasant, earthy taste with hints of vanilla.
Most people enjoy the Chaga flavor – but if its too earthy for you, add some honey.
In the next section I’ll walk you through the biological basis for the benefits of Chaga mushrooms.
Multiple laboratory and animal studies have demonstrated the ability of these biologically active Chaga chemicals to exert a beneficial effect on mammalian physiology (1).
Published reports document the ability of Chaga mushrooms to:
- kill cancer cells (Glamočlija, 2015; Ning, 2014; Lee 2009; Kang, 2015)
- reduce damaging inflammation (Mishra, 2012)
- boost the immune system (Ko, 2011; Park, 2005
- relieve pain (Park, 2005)
- increase stamina/reduce fatigue (Yue, 2015)
- act as an antioxidant (Najafzadeh, 2007; Giridharan 2011)
It should be noted that none of the reports above were performed on human patients. These in vitro and animal studies are intriguing, however, clinical studies are needed to confirm their findings.
Below, we will explore a few of the chaga health benefits that have been explored by scientists.
There is some debate on the bio-availability of Chaga nutrients in the human body. In summary, many of the biologically active chemicals in Chaga require a thorough extraction process to release these chemicals. The water/alcohol extraction method I describe above should do a very good job of releasing chemicals. For a more thorough extraction process, you can add heat to the alcohol step.
Once extracted, you may also be concerned that your body isn’t absorbing the full suite of Chaga chemicals. In this case, try adding some black pepper to your Chaga tea. Pepper helps stimulate the absorption of many compounds into the human body.
Here’s the Chaga I use for my tea.
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