The Healing Powers of Chaga
Chaga mushroom looks like a dark black woody mass rather than a mushroom. In fact you probably wouldn’t even recognize it as a mycelium species when walking through the forest. The chaga mushroom is found in the colder climates of Russia, northern Europe, Canada and the northern United States. This fungus usually appears as an outgrowth on the bark of yellow birch and white birch, and can grow up to 10 centimeters thick and 1.5 meters in length or much longer.
This medicinal mushroom is one of the most powerful adaptogens and superfoods on the world. Chaga contains a host of super healthy constituents including melanin, superoxide dismutase as well as triterpenes, sterols, polyphenols and polysaccharides.
Chaga mushroom is viewed by many health experts as one of the strongest anti tumour mushrooms available. Betulin acid, a chaga nutrient, induces apoptosis and inhibit tumor growth via certain anti mutagenic compounds.
According to Christopher Hobbs extracts of chaga were approved as an anti-cancer drug, called B fungone, in Russia as early as 1955 and has been reported successful in treating breast, lung, cervical and stomach cancers (Hobbes 1995).
Mycologist Paul Stamets writes that the betulin concentrations in chaga has shown promise in treating malignant melanoma, completely inhibiting tumors implanted in mice, causing apoptosis of cancerous cells. The extracts are also beneficial as an antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. In addition they are a known immune enhancer as well as a liver tonic (Stamets 2005).
A 2011 study, published in the International Journal of medicinal mushrooms, showed that Chaga fraction elicited anticancer effects which were attributed to decreased tumor cell proliferation, motility and morphological changes induction.
Like other mushrooms the Beta glucans in Chaga boosts our immune system and activates our natural killer cells and T cells.
How to Make a Chaga Elixir
Hello, my name is Yarrow Willard from Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary and today we are going to make a chaga elixir.
Chaga mushroom is this mushroom right here. You’ll find Chaga growing on older birch trees, coming out of places where the bark is broken open or branches have fallen off. Chaga helps protect the trees by scabbing over these open areas.
It’s not a polypore, but it’s more of what they call a sclerotia, which means it’s like a big woody thing that comes out of a tree. It’s kind of weird and gnarly, but has a lot of amazing healing benefits.
Chaga is the highest thing we’ve ever found in something called SOD or super oxide dismutase. This is an antioxidant or free radical scavenger that our body uses to purge itself of all kinds of free radical damage and oxidation. Chaga is considered an amino modulate, I mean it’s not just stimulating the immune system or depressing it. It’s bringing it to a higher level of function. This becomes really important as we start to get into all different types of immunological issues. Chaga is great for people whose immune system is starting to lose function ie immuno depressed or those who are over stimulated ie autoimmune people.
Chaga has antiviral compounds found in the black outer part of it. These are all alcohol soluble and so should be used in a dual extraction method. Chaga is very anti-inflammatory and has been used alongside many other therapies for helping with irritable bowel and gut conditions.
This mushroom has some antitumoral effects, antiviral compounds and anti-inflammatory compounds. In fact, it is also antifungal. As this is a woody mushroom it has tough and fibrous cell walls, meaning you need to extract it, you can’t just eat. We have to do what’s called a decoction, to create a decoction is simple, all you need to do is lightly simmer the chaga in water for 30 minutes to an hour. We can also regrow chaga two to three times so don’t throw away the grounds like you would with coffee.
At Harmonic Arts we offer a tea cut. This is really the most ideal cut for breaking down and doing a decoction as it offers a lot of surface area and also easy filtration. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes to extract, whereas the big chunks like this are more like an hour or two hours. To make this decoction I am going to add 1 liter of water to two tablespoons of chaga tea. Stir this up and lightly simmer it for half an hour to an hour.
All right we’re back. We have our nicely brewed chaga tea as you can see. This can be drank like this or we can make it into Chaga Power Elixir. By making it into an elixir we are amping up the nutrient potential within it. We’re adding in some fats to slow down the absorption and other superfoods to give us more mineral and vitamin content.
Now that it is simmered, I’m gonna filter it off and put it into the blender. My favorite way to filter this in a blender is with a number 4 reusable coffee filter. it sits just like this, right into the blender, pretty easy to use. Now that we have the chaga in the blender, we’re gonna turn it into a nut milk, this helps slow down the absorption, adding fats to the liquid, creating a little more stable matrix for the other superfoods to go into.
In this case we’re going to use cashews about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup for this liter. Cashews can be added in and blended up without having to be filtered out but if you do want a nice consistency you may want to filter out the sediment afterwards. The next ingredient we’re going to add in is our 6 mushroom blend which is a mixture of steam extracted mushrooms that are easily absorbable and don’t need further extraction. it also has in it, reishi, cordyceps, Coriolis, maitake and shitake. These six mushrooms are the top mushrooms that have been studied and offer the highest nutrient benefit of all the medicinal mushrooms we know of. A good dosage of this is about a half a teaspoon, though it is safe to take in larger amounts, that’s about the amount we’re gonna add into this blend.
Here, I’m also gonna add in our super power blend, which is a mixture of five different superfoods that we like to add together. Super power blend consists of raw cacao, mesquite, lucuma, maca and vanilla. It helps bind fats to waters and makes a really nice nutrient base in order to use in any kind of smoothie or tonic elixir like this.
The raw cacao is really high in magnesium as well as that list chemical of anandamide. The mesquite is really high in calcium as well as all sorts of other minerals that it up channels having a nice caramel flavor. The lucuma helps bind the fats and waters together as a rich vanilla type flavor. The maca is a great energy food that’s protective to the adrenals and the thyroid as well as other endocrine systems the vanilla is just a great flavor that rounds it all out and brings it all together.
We’re gonna add two tablespoons of this into the blend. The last ingredient we’re gonna add in is a little bit of raw honey to help drive it deeper into the tissues and give a nice flavor. I’m gonna add in one heaping tablespoon of honey, but you could sweeten it to the level you like. That’s pretty much all we need to make this elixir taste awesome. From there we can start adding in other beneficial ingredients if we choose, such as herbal powders that we’re working with. Maybe some tinctures that we might be working with. As well as things like bee pollen might be great in there. There’s many different ways you can go with this, but for now let’s just keep it basic. I’m gonna put this on the blender and let it blend for 30 seconds.
All right! There we have it! There’s a chaga elixir! At this point the elixir is fine to drink, but if we want to have a nice smooth consistency we may want to filter it. As you can see this is a pretty easy elixir to make with a lot of healing benefits. not only is it highly antioxidant and good for modulating and increasing the immune function, it’s also full of minerals and vitamins. So you know, try this at home. Thanks for joining me!
I’m Yarrow from Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary and this has been “Make Your Own Chaga Elixir”