Just like you should never judge a book by its cover, you should never judge a mushroom’s abilities by its appearance.
Because if we did, no one would have ever looked at the chaga mushroom long enough to discover its myriad of health benefits.
You see, chaga isn’t the best-looking fungi in the forest. It’s often referred to as ‘black mass’ due to its dark and textured surface that resembles a lump of charcoal. Chaga grows mainly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates (such as northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, Korea and Alaska), producing a woody growth around 10-15 inches in size.
While the outside may be unimpressive, it’s truly what’s on the inside that counts. And if you crack open a chaga mushroom, its centre will reveal a soft, golden interior that’s absolutely chock-full of antioxidants.
But wait, what are antioxidants?
We’ve all heard of antioxidants. However, not many people know much about them (except for the fact that they’re pretty damn good for you).
So, what even are antioxidants?
To understand antioxidants, we need to chat about the bad guys. Our villains, the free radicals.
Free radicals are small molecules that contain an unpaired electron. They basically go around looking for another electron to stabilise themselves. And without antioxidants, this process can cause serious harm.
This is because when free radicals go rogue throughout the body and outnumber antioxidants, it can lead to a state of oxidative stress. Prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other molecules in your body, which can lead to cell death, increased risk of cancer and even pre-mature aging (not so radical, after all).
While free radicals can enter our body through behavioural factors like smoking, air pollution and industrial chemicals, our bodies also naturally produce them through chemical reactions that happen within us (like respiration). But fear not, this is where our hero comes in.
Enter antioxidants, molecules stable enough to donate an electron to the free radical and neutralise it, reducing its ability to wage war and destruction on our cells.
While some antioxidants are formed through our metabolism, the main ones need to be sourced through our diets. There are thought to be hundreds (potentially even thousands) of different substances that can act as antioxidants, with the most familiar faces being vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
Introducing chaga mushroom
Chaga mushroom is an absolute powerhouse of goodness.
In fact, its powers are so potent that it’s been known to heal the sick or dying birch tree it grows on – a testament to its incredible medicinal strength!
Today, it’s believed that the anti-inflammatory terpenes, antioxidants and polysaccharide content within chaga can help people overcome conditions like leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammation caused by autoimmune disorders.
Chaga is loaded with beta-glucans and antioxidants, being used for centuries to increase the immune system, reduce inflammation, soften aging and boost overall health.
You’ve probably heard of foods like blueberries, sweet potato and turmeric labelled as “superfoods” due to their high antioxidant content. Well, the chaga mushroom is up to five times more concentrated in antioxidants than any of these foods. Chaga is also particularly rich in the antioxidant known as the Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), which helps to reduce free radical damage to the skin, preventing wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.
Okay so you now know a little more about what makes the chaga mushroom so special, let’s dive into its unique benefits.
Benefits of chaga antioxidants
The health benefits of chaga antioxidants are extensive, from lowering cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels to helping reduce inflammation. Here are our three favourite benefits…
- Chaga to help slow the aging process
Exposure to sun, pollution, and other sources of damage can create too many free radicals for the body to neutralise, which accelerates the aging process of the skin. This creates oxidative stress, which causes the physical signs of aging that we’ve come to know and fear, such as wrinkles, sagging skin and grey hair.
While aging is nothing to be ashamed of, supplying the body with antioxidants may be a good way to help to slow, or even reverse the process. While we’re definitely not anti-aging here at Natura Mushrooms, we’re pro healthy-aging. And if there’s a way to help slow down the process naturally, you can definitely sign us up!
- Chaga to help reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response triggered by our body’s immune system which helps to protect us against diseases. However, inflammation can sometimes transition from a short-term response (good thing) to long-term chronic health problems (bad thing).
Yep, chronic long-term inflammation can be linked to serious issues like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer. But since chaga mushrooms are so rich in antioxidants, they act to naturally reduce inflammation in the body, which may have flow-on effects and lower your risk of disease.
- Chaga to help prevent and reduce cancerous cells
Okay, remember how chaga is chock-full of antioxidants that help neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation within the body? Well, researchers are considering the possibility that this process may be able to prevent cancer or slow its growth. Wowza.
A 2010 petri dish study found that chaga could slow the growth of lung, breast and cervical cancer cells. Even better, the study also found that unlike other cancer treatments, chaga does not appear to harm any healthy cells in the process. Although these trials have not yet made it out of a laboratory, we can’t help but be hopeful for future revelations.
How to take chaga mushrooms
Traditionally, chaga was brewed as a tea. However nowadays, chaga can be consumed in a variety of ways including powder, capsules and liquid extracts.
Here at Natura Mushrooms, we offer both Chaga Powder and Chaga Dual Liquid Extract. We recommend taking:
- ½ a teaspoon of Chaga powder daily, or
- 2ml of Chaga liquid extract per day
As always, we recommend chatting with your doctor before taking chaga as a supplement.