Inonotus Obliquus, commonly known as CHAGA, is a type of slow-growing, non-toxic fungus typically found on Birch trees in Northern Europe, Asia, Canada and Northeastern United States. Chaga Mushrooms have been used for centuries in Siberia and other parts of Asia as a medicine to boost Immunity and improve overall health. It is also commonly known as Birch Mushroom, Siberian Chaga, Black Mass, or ‘Cancer Fungus’. Long used in folk medicine, Chaga contains massive amounts of the pigment Melanin. This odd-shaped mass produces a woody growth, called as conk, when exposed to the sun; the exterior of the mushroom will turn a deep black colour similar to a clump of burnt charcoal, while the interior will remain soft with bright orange-ish color. Though ugly in appearance, the chaga mushroom is fast gaining popularity in the Western World for its potential health benefits, and is used to make medicine due to its powerful anti-oxidant abilities.
How is Chaga Harvested?
Chaga should only be harvested from living trees and great care must be taken to ensure that the tree is not damaged or that the chaga is over-harvested as it may compromise its nutritional value. The chaga is then dried or powdered and used to make Chaga tea extracts or tinctures. The tea may feature chaga alone or in combination with other mushrooms such as Cordyceps. Less commonly, the powder is packed into capsules for use as a dietary supplement. Taking chaga with either warm or cold water is believed to release its medicinal properties.