Chaga is a traditional mushroom that is gaining increased recognition for its contributions to health, including its support of healthy immune system function.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) grows as an odd-looking black-gold clump high in trees in northern regions, including northern Europe, Russia, Siberia, Alaska and Canada. Some of the descriptive common names for its fruiting body include “black mass” and “birch conk.” It looks like a chunk of burnt charcoal, but inside is a characteristic soft orange core. Though it can grow on ash or maple trees, chaga that grows on birch is believed to provide the greatest benefits.
Traditional use in Russia and northern Europe, mainly as immune support, involved cutting chunks off the hard mass or grating it into a fine powder, then boiling or brewing it for a long time to make chaga tea or chaga coffee – so named as the flavor is like coffee, earthy and slightly bitter. It has also been made into syrup, extracts and decoctions, including some topical treatments.
Chaga is laden with nutrients, including B complex and D vitamins, amino acids, and a wealth of minerals – including iron, zinc, copper, potassium, selenium, calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium. It also contains bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides and polyphenols, such as inotodial and triterpenoids – both receiving considerable scientific attention for their reported benefits.
Preliminary studies have shown chaga to support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It is also reported to support liver health and to have hepatoprotective effects.
Chaga supports beneficial cytokines and modulates the formation of harmful cytokines – special proteins that regulate the immune system. It also promotes healthy white blood cells and has antioxidant effects. In fact, it has one of the highest scores of any food on the ORAC scale – measuring Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity.
The chaga mushroom also delivers superoxide dismutase or SOD, reputedly the most powerful natural antioxidant enzyme produced in the human body; as natural production of SOD decreases with age, supplemental support is beneficial.
Chaga is available as a tea or extract, and it is included our unique IMMUNE Everyday™ formula, along with maitake and shiitake mushrooms and the adaptogen ashwagandha to help with a balanced stress response
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