What Is Chaga?

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus parasitic found on birches and in some rare occasions in other trees. Chaga can easily be identified as it has a distinctive appearance of burnt charcoal. Chaga can be found in birch forests of Russia, Korea and Northern and Eastern Europe. Also forests of northern areas of the United States, mountains of North Carolina and forests of Canada are areas where chaga grows. Chaga is considered a medicinal mushroom and adaptogen, and it has been used in Russian along with Eastern European folk medicine since the 16th century as a remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers and tuberculosis. Also hypertension, viral infections, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have been treated with chaga. Lately chaga has attracted interest as a potential treatment for HIV. Studies made with chaga have confirmed that it has at least anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunostimulating, ache-relieving along with antiulcer properties. Antioxidant activity (ORAC level) is higher than in any other tested medicinal mushroom. The antioxidant level of chaga is also remarkably higher than in any other common sources of antioxidants. For example chaga has six times higher antioxidant level than Acai berry.


How To Use Chaga as a Cold Remedy?

Chaga’s antiviral activities and its ability to enhance immunity makes it a noteworthy cold treatment. As a natural, non-toxic substance, chaga can safely be used daily, even for long periods of time. Traditional way to use chaga is to grate it in to a fine powder and prepare a drink resembling coffee. With this kind of hot extraction the major active components, the polysaccharides will be in the extract. Several extraction rounds are usually useful for achieving very high levels of polysaccharides. Normally however single extraction round is plenty while preparing a brew to be used on a daily basis for immune boosting and as a cold treatment. To be able to pull out also the non-water soluble components of chaga such as betulinic acid, betulin along with phyto-sterols, an alcohol extraction method is needed. Then by combining drops of alcohol extract along with hot water brew you will get an infusion with high-level therapeutic value. You can try using this kind of beverage when you are wondering how to get rid of a cold.


Where To Find Chaga?

Chaga is these days commercially 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. Therefore it is recommendable to acquire chaga in form of chunks and prepare the extracts by yourself. If you reside in an area where chaga can be found, it is advisable to look for and gather chaga from the woods for free. Here are some hints meant for searching, collecting and preparing chaga:

  • Chaga is mostly found in older birch forests
  • Chaga found in a dead tree should not be used
  • After you find and identify a chaga, remove it by utilizing a large knife, chisel, axe, etc.
  • Remove the outer black part of chaga, unless you are also after anticancer properties of chaga
  • Chop chaga into small cubes
  • Use an oven (105°F/50°C) or a dehydrator to dry the chaga cubes
  • When the cubes are totally dry place them in air-tight container, they can be stored like this for years
  • You can also grate the cubes in to a powder by using a powerful blender
  • Hot water extract from chaga can be prepared in many ways. Simplest way 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. Please note that you can use the same cubes at least three times.) Boil slowly for ½-2 hours (or longer). Enjoy a minimum couple glasses everyday.
  • Chaga tea can be stored in a refrigerator for 3-4 days