The Resurging popularity of medicinal mushrooms in mainstream wellness is proof that good things — especially naturally good things — never really go out of style. Ancient adaptogens like reishi, lion’s mane and the immunity-boosting chaga mushroom have been used in wellness practices for centuries. They are recently all the rage again thanks to their incredible health benefits and modern brands (like Four Sigmatic and Sun Potion) who make it easy to access and use daily.
There are many healing mushrooms to explore. Still, we think chaga deserves to be a staple of your daily wellness routine. Chaga is an incredible source of antioxidants, which helps keep our bodies balanced and our immune systems strong. Traditionally, chaga mushroom is used to make a healing tea or coffee substitute, but the benefits can also be enjoyed in the form of a morning smoothie or raw snack.
Discover all the health benefits of consuming chaga mushroom regularly with this comprehensive guide from our friends at Free People…
What Are Adaptogens?Adaptogens play a key role in keeping our systems balanced, our hormones in check, and our immunity high. Used traditionally in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for centuries, the Western world is finally getting clued in on the power of adaptogens. They boast the ability to support nearly all systems. They help your body adapt to everything from stress to immunity and mood.
Many edible mushrooms and fungi are classified as adaptogens. This includes the subject of today’s article: Chaga. You’ve probably seen Chaga out in the wild without realizing it. Usually found growing on birch trees, Chaga is a destructive tree fungus that has been found to be extremely beneficial for human consumption.
What’s the Deal With Chaga?
What I find so interesting about mushrooms and fungi is that, so often the most beneficial species to humans are completely destructive to their hosts. Cordyceps is an excellent example of this, as is Chaga, which grows on – and ultimately kills – birch trees. Also known as clinker polypore, Chaga appears as a dark brown to jet black conk (or mass). The more mature and potent the Chaga, the darker it will be due to high levels of melanin. The outside of the conk may feel rough, but the inside feels soft and slightly spongy when harvested. Traditionally grated into a tea or coffee substitute, Chaga is now more widely available in the form of Chaga coffees and adaptogenic dusts.
What Are The Benefits of Chaga?
Chaga could support everything from immune function to stress relief because of the abundance of beta glucans, which are sugars found in the cell walls of the fungus. These beta glucans support the immune system, boosting it when needed or slowing it down if too much activity is taking place. This is the adaptogenic response. Furthermore, the polysaccharides present in Chaga could provide energy, support healthy blood sugar, and keep the liver healthy. The melanin present in Chaga is a potent antioxidant, assisting in scrubbing the body of free radicals and potentially supporting immune response
How Do You Use Chaga?
Chaga mushroom coffee and adaptogenic dusts are a great way to begin incorporating it into your pre-existing routine. Chaga tea is also fairly easy to come by. Fresh chunks are also widely available – just be sure you know what you’re getting. Unfortunately, in the world of mushrooms and adaptogens, many imposters exist. It’s best to turn to a trusted source and read up on any websites you plan to order from. Once you have your stash, try one of these ideas:
Daily Adaptogenic Tonics
We’re looking back on our interview with mushroom master, Four Sigmatic’s Tero Isokauppila to share his own personal morning pick-me-up: a healing tonic recipe using Chaga mushroom. Tero relies on Chaga specifically to keep his immunity strong as he travels. Try his simple, immune boosting, hormone-leveling tonic – the espresso shot is optional!
Chaga-Powered Immunity Smoothie
Break out the cozy socks and whip up this immunity smoothie from holistic nutritionist, Kelly LeVeque. This adaptogen-packed smoothie is a heavy-hitting – and totally delicious – defense against getting sick when everyone else seems to be, due to Chaga and vitamin-rich berries.
Homemade Superfood Lattes
Making superood lattes has long been a part of our morning repertoire. We began dabbling with unusual coffee ingredients years ago with Bulletproof coffee and collagen lattes and have since morphed our morning brew with everything and anything coming from our smoothie pantry, including adaptogens and medicinal mushrooms. The recipe is not prescriptive, so get creative!
Raw Adaptogenic Snack Bites
These mind-body balancing raw snack bites are made with reishi. If you want to tweak the recipe, it’s easy: simply sub in Chaga mushroom. The result is a healthy and natural immunity boosting snack.
Superfood Salad Dressing
We load up our morning bevs with adaptogens, probiotics and superfoods every day. Why not try giving salad dressings the superfood treatment too with a dose of Chaga mushroom?