3 Reasons to Eat Chaga Mushroom

My First Chaga Hunt Effect PNG

Are you looking for a way to fire-up your immune system? If so, Chaga is your answer.

The first time I heard about Chaga, I was at a talk hosted by David Wolfe. David Wolfe is a health, nutrition, eco and natural beauty expert. He’s a raw foodist that has an encyclopedic knowledge about every vitamin, supplement, herb, mineral and superfood on the planet. His knowledge is simply amazing.

David is a huge proponent of Chaga — he’s written a book all about it. And he inspired me to go on my first Chaga hunt.

What is Chaga?

Chaga is a medicinal mushroom that grows mainly on birch trees. So, if you live near a forest that grows birch trees, you will definitely find Chaga growing wild. Lucky you!

Chaga doesn’t look like a typical mushroom. It has a hard, black, woody exterior, and its caramel brown interior is dry and fibrous. To divide a large chunk of Chaga into smaller pieces, you need a small hatchet —  it’s incredibly solid.

Some hikers and campers like to use it as kindling for a fire because it’s very dry and catches a flame fast. But I wouldn’t suggest doing this because Chaga is one of the most expensive medicinal mushrooms on the market!  Don’t set it aflame…just drink it!

The most popular way to consume Chaga is in the form of a tea. Stay tuned for this week’s recipe! I will show you how to make a Coconut Chaga Shake! Yummy!

What are the health benefits of Chaga?

1. Chaga is an immune system modulator:

The primary active ingredients in Chaga are the 27 different types of beta-glucans.

Beta-glucans stimulate the production of macrophages: an immune system cell that devours harmful, invading pathogens. Macrophages secret cytokines: a type of chemical that increases the communication between immune cells.

The beta-glucans also stimulate the production of white blood cells that attack viruses and tumor cells.

Amazingly, Chaga is a dual directional immune system modulator. If the immune system requires a kick in the ass, Chaga sends in the troops. If, however, an autoimmune situation arises, and the immune system goes haywire, for example during an allergic reaction or asthma, Chaga can sooth the immune system and calm the turmoil down.

2. Chaga is the most powerful antioxidant:

Chaga contains the highest concentration of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) than any other food on the planet.

Superoxide Dismutase is an enzyme that protects and repairs cells from the damage inflicted by free radicals.

Free radicals are bad news! They cause cellular DNA and structural damage, which can cause cancer and heart disease.

Free radicals are naturally produced in the body during metabolism, and white blood cells produce them in order to combat viruses and bacteria. But the main source of free radical production is exposure to radiation, smoke, pesticides, herbicides and pollution.

The only way to neutralize free-radicals is with antioxidants. And Chaga contains more antioxidants than antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, acai berries and pomegranate seeds.

3. Chaga protects the body against infection:

Chaga contains a long list of substances that prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, microbes, and the ever troublesome, candida.

How can I get my hands on some Chaga?

You can buy Chaga powder or tinctures online or at a healthfood store. I, however, prefer to go on a Chaga hunt!

The first time I found a wild Chaga I was ecstatic! I felt like I found a long, lost treasure. And I’m all about treasure!

My Love and I were vacationing, at a cottage, north of Toronto. Since there were so many birch trees growing in the area, we thought we would find a Chaga for sure. And we were right!

The Chaga mushroom I found grew about 2 feet from the bottom of a birch tree. I ended up kicking it off the tree with the heel of my boot. It was surprisingly heavy.

We  hacked the Chaga into chunks with a hatchet, and set the pieces out to dry in the sun.

We have been enjoying Chaga tea all year long. And it was free! Woo!

54 Comments on “3 Reasons to Eat Chaga Mushroom

  1.  by  Stone Walker

    I just harvested my chaga for the season. And while making my garlic honey I said to self why can’t I make chaga honey?
    Any reason why not?

    •  by  admin

      I can’t think of any reason not too : ) I do wonder if the honey will be a bit gritty though, but I’m all for experimentation!

  2.  by  Ken

    I see many recommendations saying that chaga should be dried before consumption. Is there a reason for this?

    •  by  admin

      I don’t think it has to do with potency; it’s easier to grind dried chaga, and it stores indefinitely if dried.

  3.  by  Andy

    Using chunks for tea vs. powder is not proven to be of any degree less potent end product. Added time boiling it will make it more powerful. Make sure to keep chunk after use in fridge or freezer. Making a tincture from chaga is the best way to get all the great compounds of chaga out of it, especially Beta D Glucans.

  4.  by  Anthony

    So I don’t have a grinder. Is it ok to take a big piece and simmer on the stove? Then add more water and keep using the same piece till you lose that dark colour? Thanks for any info you can give.

    •  by  admin

      This is definitely a judgement call here…but I would say no; don’t simmer a large chunk. Chaga is quite hard, and the water won’t penetrate the chunk efficient enough to extract the beneficial chemical properties of this fungus. If you’d like to cut costs when purchasing a grinder, check on CraigsList or Amazon. Hope that helps!

  5.  by  Elizabeth Woodring

    Hello and thank you for all of the Chaga information as I am very new to this and only heard about it through The Truth About Cancer Docu-Series.

    My question is , are there other things that could be attached to Birch trees that look like chaga but aren’t? How can we be sure that we’ve identified it correctly?

    Thanks very much!

  6.  by  Marty Mazza

    When drinking 3 cups of chaga tea bags per day must I stop drinking caffeine coffee or soda?

    •  by  danalee

      I would think so. If your system is filled up with toxins (like processed food, sugars, alcohol, caffeine, etc..) it will take much longer for the chaga to do its thing. It will be too busy trying to cancel out the new toxins you put in everyday to get at the old toxins (cancer, dis-ease of the body, illnesses) and heal you for the original reason you started to take it for.

  7.  by  Mrs Rudy

    Can I eat/drink normally while consuming chaga or are there things I need to avoid such as gluten, dairy, salt, caffeine etc.?

    •  by  admin

      I am not aware of any negative effects of consuming chaga with a regular, healthy diet. In general, I recommend avoiding processed, GMO, and junk foods, and keeping added sugar consumption to a minimum. But, none of these recommendations are related to enjoying chaga. Go for it!

    •  by  admin

      Yes, that’s possible. Make sure that the chaga is ground finely. You can bake with it, too : )

  8.  by  Des

    Thanks for your input and heart regarding the cyst on my pancreas. I was reading somewhere that one of the ingredients in Chaga that was supposed to help with tumours and cysts can only be digested when in an alcohol extraction. This is all new to me and I’m excited and feel very confident that it will actually work. Besides, I discovered that two out of thirty birch trees contained the mushroom at my dad and i’s favourite fishing hole in central BC. So cool… I’m set for life, only I can say that with the bee pollen I consume. You just figured it out, “the Canadian health system” cheap but does anybody give a dam! A delicious tea recipe for people with pancreatitis. Add 1 tbs of coconut oil, 1 tbs of black strap molasses and a dash of cinnamon to a hot cup of Chaga tea. The coconut oil bypasses the pancreas during digestion so it definitely helps one maintain weight and nutrients during an attack and recovery. We all know that un sulphured black strap molasses is a super food as well. Thanks again Allison, will keep you and the readers up to date in a month or two.
    Cheers!

    •  by  admin

      Thank you so much for the update! And, I hear you…I had to leave Canada (where I live) to get treatment for Lyme Disease. Right now, doctors in Canada are not allowed to treat Lyme patients with antibiotics beyond 30-days. It took me 2.5 years of treatment to recover; under the excellent care of my U.S. Lyme literate physician. Something really needs to change in this country.

      •  by  Stephanie (desperate!)

        I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in November. It has been wreeking havoc on my body. Exhaustion, joint pain, headaches, muscle pain, fogginess….while I’m sorry you’re dealing with it as well, I’m extremely excited to finally have found what seems like a viable solution. My Doctor is baffled and says Lyme Disease is one of the most misunderstood diseases. Is Chaga my knight in shining armor? I’ve tried a lot of avenues! Do you just drink Chaga tea three times a day?

        •  by  admin

          Stephanie, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re struggling with Lyme. I hope you’ve been able to find an amazing Lyme literate doctor. It took 9-years, but I reached recovery. It is possible! I made a FREE email series about the best strategies I used to support my body and mind through treatment. Here’s the link to get access: http://alisonsmith.com/helping-lyme-patients

          •  by  Stephanie (desperate!)

            Thank you Alison. I will check it out now. I’ve yet to find a doctor that is literate in Lyme disease. I’m a single mother and cannot travel much outside of my city. This has been one of the biggest frustrations so I was very excited to find that their might be natural solutions, individual decision that I can make and habits I can change to feel better! I am so glad you are doing so well….and I’m determined to get there myself!
            Thanks so much!

  9.  by  Des

    Good day!
    I suffer from a cyst on my pancreas that is blocking my speenic vein. The doctors reckon that it’s not serious enough to do anything. My acupuncturist told me to try Chaga. I have been taking 3 cups a day for the last month. I spoke to soon and just had a flare up. My question to you is, do I need to take the extract in order to reduce the size of the cyst or will the tea be adequate?
    Thanks

    •  by  admin

      Goodness, I’m so sorry to hear about your health situation. It must be very painful. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can be of much help. I’m not aware of any scientific evidence to support using Chaga to decrease the size of a cyst. I’m surprised that your medical team isn’t seriously treating it; especially since it sounds like it’s disrupting your overall health. I wish you a speedy solution! All the best.

  10.  by  Sheila Mitchell

    My husband has bought some Chaga ready made. They suggested for us to take it 2x a day a tablespoon each time. I have read so much about it but would like to know is there a recommended amount to take? Will it interfere with other herbal teas I am drinking? HOw long should we be taking this?

    •  by  admin

      Hi Sheila, thanks so much for your question. Great to hear that you’re trying Chaga! In terms of dosage, I have not come across any clear requirements. Chaga is generally used as an immune system support that doesn’t interfere with other supplements or herbals. I tend to make Chaga as a tea; I consumed it more often when I was in treatment for Lyme disease — I also drink it more often during the winter (I like to use it as an immune system support). There is a book called, Chaga: The king of the medicinal mushrooms, by David Wolfe. Perhaps there would be more dosing information within.

  11.  by  dj troop

    My child was diagnosed with what they believe is lymphoma. Will Chaga tea help kill the cancer

    •  by  admin

      I’m so sorry to hear that your child was diagnosed with cancer. My heart goes out to you. I think it’s wonderful that you’re exploring ways to support their body through treatment. A clean, healthy, vitamin-rich diet is so necessary. When it comes to Chaga, there is no direct, scientific evidence that it can kill cancerous cells; however, it is known as an immune system support. Have you considered speaking with an integrative physician who specializes in cancer treatment? Someone who is versed in holistic treatments that help to support cancer treatment.

  12. Pingback: Buy Chaga Mushroom Tea: Benefits, How to Make, Side Effects | Herbal Teas Online

  13.  by  clifford creighton

    I have used a teaspoon of chaga powder in my nutriblast for two days and this morning I woke up with my arms all broke out in little red bumps. is this a possible allergy to it. should I see my doctor.

    •  by  admin

      Thanks so much for your question. I would say, yes; a rash is definitely a sign that you are allergic to something. Do you need to see a doctor? I think I would rather leave that up to your discretion (since I am not a physician). I wish you well!

  14.  by  enid kristiansen

    hey ! I\ll cheer with you this artikkel witch I found on the internett . http://www.faim.org/longevity/PPNF-Journal-Chaga.pdf . you will find it intesseing and usefull . I lve in Norway , and it is chaga here to . if you want chaga for cancer , follow the recept from the artikkel . or let it stand for 2-5 houres , not boil it ! fill with water while making it . use a aluminium casserolle.or teflon . . . drink 1-3 cups pr,day (1 1\2 dl) .

    •  by  admin

      Thank you so much for the article! I would also recommend the book, “Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms”, by David Wolfe. I wonder if there is a Norwegian translation? All the best!

  15.  by  marc

    Can you grind chaga, put it in a capsule take it orally? If yes what would be a good dosage?

    •  by  admin

      Yes, chaga capsules do exist; they typically contain 350 mg of ground chaga. Is this a therapeutic dose? No one knows. There is no research on the ideal dose for chaga. Wish I could help more!

  16.  by  Jon D Rapp

    I also use chaga, turmeric, vitamin D, and eleuthero (on the daily)!
    Coincidence (or not)!
    It sure seems to work,
    between good practice…
    physical, mental, dietary,
    and sometimes spiritual 😉

    I have a steady chaga supply (I grew up in Vermont)
    but I have never tried it raw. I’ve only made decoctions and tinctures.
    I am going to Hawaii,
    and I enjoy chaga for it’s protection against pacific radiation.
    I have ground chaga I plan to bring along, in capsules.

    My question to you is,
    What do you think the threshold dose for this use would be?
    In grams, if possible. I have a scale and can measure portions.
    I don’t want to waste any by taking too much, or too little.
    In HI, this medicine is precious, and whatever I can spare is shared.
    Thank you!

    •  by  admin

      Unfortunately, I haven’t come across specific dose requirements for ground Chaga. In his book, “Chaga: The King of Medicinal Mushrooms”, David Wolfe recommends 2-4 droppers of chaga tincture for healthy people, and 20-40 for those dealing with an illness. When you’re making Chaga tea, strain and re-dry the ground chaga to use it again in another tea. Keep using the same ground chaga until it no longer provides a rich, dark coloured tea. It’s a great cost-saving strategy : )

  17.  by  Fabien Ouellette

    Hi Alison,

    I drink chaga tea for its immune as well as it’s antioxidants and immune benefits. I have a week immune system it seems to help! My concern is can chaga cause or worsen, if I may say, heart disease?

    Kind regards
    Fabien

    •  by  admin

      No, Chaga does not cause heart disease. Heart Disease has been linked to over consumption of saturated fats or over consumption of added sugar (the fructose component of sugar is converted to LDL: bad cholesterol, which hardens the arteries).

  18.  by  brook scothorn

    what about eating chaga right off of the tree? Its not the most pleasant but i heard if you heat it up over 120 F then the chaga it will take the nutrients out of the chaga.

    •  by  admin

      Hi Brooke! Thanks so much for your question. When you take a chaga mushroom off of a birch tree, it’s very tough, hard, and wood-like. The only way to eat it would be through grinding it into a powder, and putting it in a smoothie. Or, you can make a tea from it. Steeping ground chaga in hot water draws out its medicinal properties; it doesn’t kill them. Have fun discovering chaga!

  19.  by  kirstine hurtigkarl

    do you feel different in your health after you start drinking it?

    •  by  admin

      Hi Kirstine, drinking Chaga tea is one holistic practice in a long list of things I do for my body. It’s hard to say that one thing, like Chaga, made me feel better. Instead, I use Chaga as immune support, along with other things like fresh turmeri, vitamin D, vitamin C, and Siberian ginseng. Helping my body to feel better definitely comes from a myriad of diet, lifestyle, supplements, and holistic prCtices.

  20. Pingback: Chaga Mushroom | Chaga HQ

  21.  by  Thomas

    I’ve been looking to get some chaga, but i’m having trouble answering this: is it okay to eat them? I see all directions are to make tea of them but would it also be fine to bust a chunk off and make a smoothie out if it with a vitamix?

    •  by  admin

      That’s a very good point. My boyfriend actually adds a small chunk to his smoothies (made in a Vitamix). So, it’s definitely possible to do that. But, I’m wondering if adding a small chunk to a smoothie is enough — in terms of dosage. I think people focus on Chaga tea because it’s a method that allows us to expose ourselves to more of the medicinal chemicals found in the mushroom (you can drink more Chaga tea than you can put into a smoothie). What about doing a combination of the two? How about making a smoothie with a Chaga tea base? (FYI — Chaga tea and coconut milk go really well together.)

  22.  by  dick gatz

    This a question. How much chaga liquid is required per day in order to help. Some people say just a drop. Dick

    •  by  admin

      Thanks so much for your question. I actually haven’t come across any guidelines on how much Chaga tea one should drink. When I make Chaga tea, I make a whole mug’s worth, and I drink that. Perhaps the reference to ‘one drop’ is for Chaga tincture? I’m not sure. There is a book, however, that may interest you: David Wolfe’s, Chaga.

      •  by  Russ

        Yes, I’m pretty sure the “some people” are referring to Chaga tincture which is very different from Chaga tea. The suggested use for Chaga Tincture is 15 to 20 drops, 1-3 times daily. As for Chaga tea (my fave), one mug is great, but the more the merrier when you consider all it’s health benefits and that it’s caffeine free.

        Great post Alison. Keep up the good work!

        •  by  admin

          Thanks for the fabulous extra info, Russ! I raise a mug of chaga tea to you : )

  23.  by  Bunny

    Suppose I found a hunk of what I think is Chaga on a fallen birch trunk? Shall I liberate that do you think?

    •  by  admin

      I say, yes, liberate it. But inspect the piece of chaga for excessive damp or rot. Chip away the dark, black outer coating to expose the deep honey coloured inner mycelium. And, if it’s rather large, divide the piece into chunks and dry it in the sun. You can then put one chunk in a spice grinder and make some tea!

  24.  by  Shany

    Ok I’m inspired. Now where do I find a birch tree map?

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