In the Netherlands and Belgium we know it under the name berkenweerschijnzwam and although it is rare here, it grows in some places.
A few years ago I got a piece from a friend who found it here in the woods and I made medicinal tea from it.
Chaga is an adaptogen and is traditionally used in various parts of the world to increase resistance to stress and strengthen the immune system.
It is very rich in antioxidants. In the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test that shows the amount of antioxidants in food, Chaga has the highest antioxidant score of all natural foods. *
Chaga is a recognized medicine in China and has been used for thousands of years for various purposes such as strengthening vitality, promoting digestion and relieving stress.
In Russia and in other Slavic cultures the mushroom has been used since at least the twelfth century for its medicinal properties.
A lot of research has been done on Chaga. If you are interested in reading more about its medicinal properties from scientific perspective, you can start here, here and here.
Chaga adaptogen for the skin
This special mushroom also has a powerful effect on the skin.
The high concentration of antioxidants helps to reduce oxidative stress, which contributes to less wrinkles, acne and skin discoloration.
Antioxidants in combination with melanin and zinc in Chaga help protect against damage from UV radiation.*
Chaga improves skin elasticity, increases the production of collagen and stimulates the repair and renewal of skin cells due to betulinic acid a.o.
It also contains some of the highest amounts of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). Deficiencies that arise as we age, cause wrinkles and skin discoloration.
How do you use Chaga?
You can add Chaga to all kinds of food and drinks such as oatmeal, latte, stir-fry, soup, yogurt, smoothie etc.
Combining it with healthy fats such as coconut, (plant-based) dairy products, nuts or avocado helps with the absorption.
The healthy components in Chaga are, like many other mushrooms, protected by so-called Chitin cell walls. Heat is needed to release the active ingredients and allow them to be absorbed well by your body.
Chaga is usually made into a tea or elixir, by gently heating it in a pot with water. You can then store the liquid in the refrigerator for a few days and add it to your food or drink either warmed up or cold.
Simmering the powdered mushroom in a dish also works very well.
Additionally you can also add the powder to a hot drink.
You can find Chaga in the I am glowing and the I am energized blend.