Chaga Mushroom

Chaga Mushroom

inonotus obliguus

Chaga mushroom has been praised by many as the healing mushroom that provides benefits to aid and adapt to what your body needs. Considered an adoptogen, the mushroom has been stated to help relieve the stress of alignment in your body.

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Tinder Mushroom,Cinder Conk
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: conk or sclerotia - both outer black and inner orange portions
  • Side Effects: Due to its immunomodulating effect, chaga should not be used with immune suppressant medication
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About Chaga

Chaga mushroom is a non-toxic fungus that exhibits slow growth on the birch trees. This parasitic fungus is a member of Hymenochaetaceae. Chaga mushroom is a hideous looking fungus that gives the idea of burnt charcoal due to its true black color and irregular shape, but deep down, it embraces many a diverse variety of medicinal benefits.

Chaga spores have been reported to attack the damaged spots of the tree. Its various sexual stages pave the way for the fruiting bodies that produce basidiospores that are a pro at advancing the infection in other vulnerable trees.

Chaga, a fungus that devastates the tree, has been a subject of interest for scientists for many years. It is now hailed as a hero in the medicinal world because of the benefits it confers. Chaga mushroom is termed as an antioxidant powerhouse as it does a stellar job at scavenging the free radicals to reduce oxidative stress. It is also used to lower the levels of LDL and ward off inflammation, aging, and even cancer.

Chaga mushroom is known to possess betulinic acid that helps kill cancer-stricken cells. It is also used as anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-candida, and anti-parasitic properties.

Growing

Chaga mushrooms require a cold climate to grow on the birch trees. It has undergone several attempts to farm it but sadly, everything happens according to Murphy’s Law in this case. On the other hand, there is a possibility of growing Chaga if the process is conducted flawlessly.

Chaga, the Russian and Chinese traditional medicine, can be cultivated by initiating the process in a laboratory. The mycelium is grown in the laboratory and it is stationed onto a damaged birch tree. Within the span of 5 to 6 years, the burl grows which can be harvested upon its maturity.

Another anecdotal yet somehow scientific method of growing Chaga is by releasing the spores of dead Chaga on a wounded birch tree. The birch tree can be wounded deliberately in your backyard and spores are spread on the wound. Chaga will grow but the process may take around 5 to 10 years to yield our desired mushroom.

The Chaga that is procured from the birch tree is more in the limelight than the ones obtained from maple or ash tree. This is probably because of the fact that Chaga acquired from birch has certain phytochemicals that cannot be found from the ones obtained from trees other than birch.

A wounded birch tree gets infected by the spores of Chaga that are carried by thewind. Chaga mushroom, the untamed feast, keeps growing within the tree. After 10 to 20 years, the mushroom becomes big enough that it hinders the circulation of the sap, leading to the death of the tree.

The mushroom is left to die to release more spores that can attack another wounded birch tree for the continuation of its lifecycle.

Harvesting

Winter season is considered as a paragon to harvest the Chaga mushroom as the trees are dormant. The amount of nutrients that Chaga confers in winter is also at its peak of excellence.

It is advised not to harvest Chaga from dead trees as it doesn’t contain the same nutritional value and also, the off-notes of the mushroom rise badly, giving it a more bitter taste.

Chaga mushroom should be harvested in a way that about 15 to 20% of the mushroom is left on the tree. This act promises the regrowth and less damage to the tree.

While harvesting the Chaga mushroom, the tree must not be damaged as any harm may subject to the acceleration in the not so distant death of the tree.

Chaga mushroom is obliged to be dried immediately after seeking its harvest as failure to do so may subject to initiation of mold formation within a day. The only job that can be done with fresh Chaga is it can be sliced easily or cut into chunks.

Chaga cannot be dried in a damp or poorly ventilated area. It also doesn’t bear the idea of oven drying as this results in the loss of biologically active ingredients.

The freshly sliced Chaga should be air-dried in a well-ventilated area and stored in an airtight glass jar or linen bag. If these standard procedures are carried out correctly then Chaga stays medicinally active for two years.

Usage

There are many ways to get in tune with aura mushrooms.

  • Tincture- Infuse Chaga in grain alcohol for 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place. 
  • Tea- Dried Chaga powder is soaked in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. To add some flavor, any syrup or honey can be added to the tea.
  • Decoction- Dried Chaga is simmered in water for a few minutes as longer timescale may result in loss of active ingredients. The decocted liquid can be consumed for meeting various pathologies.
  • Salve- Chaga powdered extract is used to form Chaga salve.
  • Infused oil- Dried Chaga powder is infused with coconut oil to form Chaga oil.