What You Need to Know About Chaga

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Chaga mushrooms have become incredibly commonplace on the market, whether at health food stores or online supplement sites.

While the mushroom can be sold in powder form, chaga mushroom capsules are often considered the most convenient product. 

However, other than being a mushroom, what exactly are chaga mushrooms? How are they different from other medicinal mushrooms or just from regular mushrooms you’d get at the supermarket?

What Actually Are Chaga mushrooms?

Many people are surprised at just how strange chaga mushrooms look when growing. Instead of having traditional gills, chaga mushrooms are polypores, making them look a bit like a large piece of bark.

They grow on birch trees primarily and look a little like a tumescent growth. The mushroom has a thick, rough texture and, when broken up and ground into a powder, can be made into a tea or even turned into an extract.

Chaga contains a rich energy store that helps prepare the mushroom for the long, cold winter months. In a way, the bit of the mushroom that we harvest is like the winter fat of a hibernating bear.

However, instead of energy-dense fat, it is filled with all sorts of unique and exciting compounds that have the potential to be incredibly beneficial for humans.

What Are the Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms?

The world of medicinal mushrooms is still in its very early days when it comes to western usage. However, the same cannot be said for the billions of people living in North, East Asia.

Medicinal mushrooms, including chaga mushrooms, have been used for millennia, offering practical benefits. While we have rich, anecdotal evidence on the health benefits of chaga, medical studies are only just scratching the surface. 

One very contentious use of chaga mushrooms is their ability to support the immune system, which may benefit cancer treatments. While the concrete studies are still developing human trials, some promising studies show that chaga could indeed be helpful.

A study by Arata et al. for Heiyon found that taking chaga mushrooms continuously over a long time helps to suppress cancer progression and positively affects temperature regulation and maintenance. Unfortunately, the study was only conducted on mice. 

Another study by Szychowski et al. for the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that chaga mushrooms could work as an anti-cancer treatment and anti-inflammatory.

Furthermore, chaga also exhibits hypoglycemic and insulin sensitivity potential, making it possible to begin using chaga mushrooms as a treatment for diabetes. All in all, chaga research is still in its preliminary phases. 

Of course, to enjoy the benefits of chaga mushrooms, we need to get them in our bodies. So how do you take chaga mushrooms?

How Do You Take Chaga Mushrooms?

Chaga mushrooms are not pleasant to eat. While it’s unlikely to cause any kind of damage when eaten in moderation, they have a really unpleasant and bitter taste.

In fact, many people have described it as tasting a bit like barbequed, charcoaled wood, and little else.

However, an easy way to enjoy chaga mushrooms is to make them into tea.

After first harvesting and drying the mushrooms under the open sun, many people will grind them into a powder to produce tea from them. Some cultures actually make a simple beverage out of chaga by putting the whole polypores into some hot water and adding other flavoring ingredients.

The terrible flavor is diluted, and it is instead pleasantly bitter, with a slightly acrid and spicy aftertaste. This allows for many of the potentially beneficial compounds to be easily imbibed and allows the chaga to serve as a refreshing beverage.

Another great method to get chaga into your body is to use chaga mushroom capsules. Not only are they incredibly straightforward to use, but you can bypass the bitter taste of chaga tea. 

Of course, however, you choose to use chaga is up to you – some people like the bitterness and consider it half of the fun.

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