What Is Chaga?
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus parasitic that grows on birches and in some rare cases in other trees. Chaga can easily be identified as it has the distinctive appearance of burnt charcoal. It can be found in birch forests of Europe, Russia and Korea. Also in some parts of the United States and in Canada are regions where you can find chaga. Chaga is defined as medicinal mushroom and it has been used in Russian and Eastern European folk medicine for centuries as a treatment for cancer, gastritis, ulcers and tuberculosis. Chaga has also been used to treat hypertension, viral infections, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Recent studies have shown that chaga could be used as a treatment for HIV.
Chaga As a Cold Remedy
Scientific studies have proven that chaga truly has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunostimulating, ache-relieving and antiulcer properties. Antioxidant activity (ORAC level) is higher than in any other medicinal mushroom tested so far.
Chaga is an interesting cold and flu remedy because of its antiviral activities and capability to improve immunity. Chaga is also natural, non-toxic and thus safe even in long-term daily use. Traditional method to use chaga is to grind it in to a fine powder and infuse a hot beverage. Hot extraction method like this ensures that the major active components, the polysaccharides will be in the infusion. More than a few extraction rounds are generally useful for achieving very high amounts of polysaccharides. Typically though single extraction round is enough when preparing a drink to be used daily for immune boosting and as a cold treatment. To be able to pull out also the non-water soluble components of chaga, an alcohol extraction technique is should be used. Then by combining drops of alcohol extract and hot water brew you will get an infusion with high-level remedial value. If you are wondering how to get rid of a cold, this is a beverage you should try.
Chaga is nowadays offered in the form of tea bags, chunks, powder, tablets, extracts along with tinctures. The quality of commercial chaga products can vary and some of them can also be quite expensive. Thus it is recommendable to purchase chaga in type of chunks and prepare the extracts by yourself or search and gather chaga by yourslf from the woods. Here are a few advice for searching, collecting and preparing Chaga:
- You can typically find chaga in older birch forests
- Don’t collect chaga if it is growing in a dead birch
- After finding chaga cut it off by utilizing a large knife, chisel, axe, etc.
- If you are not after anticancer properties of chaga, remove the outer charcoal-like part
- Chop into tiny cubes
- Use an oven (105°F/50°C) or a dehydrator for drying the cubes
- As soon as the cubes are totally dry put them in air-tight container for storage, or grate cubes in to a powder by using a powerful blender
- Simplest method to prepare a hot water extract is to bring couple of liters (couple of quarts) water into a boil and add two tablespoons of chaga powder. When using chaga cubes, add two to three cubes and note that you can use the same cubes at least three times. Boil slowly for ½-2 hours or longer. Enjoy no less than couple glasses daily.
- You can store chaga tea in fridge for 3-4 days
Restrictions On Use
Chaga can safely be used daily even for long periods of time. If you are pregnant or nursing please consult your physician before using chaga.