What am I going on about now?
I first learned of these mushrooms last summer when I was kicking it Raw In The Woods with David Wolfe. I have since eaten loads, been intrigued, read heaps and finally made the time to escape up into the woods with my snow shoes, a knife and a trusty (and well informed) partner in mushroom hunting crime to hunt for some of these here bad boys.
Chaga are a mushroom, though some consider it a fungus that grow on dying birch (versus a parasite which would grow on living organisms and proceed to kill them). As I mentioned in the video, one of the really amazing things about chaga is its age. It takes roughly 15 years of growth before the chaga even appears on the outside of the tree. This means that this mushroom, this medicine, carries a whole lot of the earth's energy in it. The fifteen year growth period also struck me as incredibly interesting to me, as it is believed cancerous tumors develop inside us for 15-20 years before we are able to detect them. It should not come as a surprise then that chaga has been used traditionally as a treatment for cancer.
What is so magical about this medicinal mushroom? It is not that kind of magic mushroom. The magic in this mushroom comes from its' healing properties and nutrient density.
In traditional Chinese medicine, uses for chaga are massively varied- as all great medicines should be. Primarily, chaga is a powerhouse for supporting the immune system, promoting the body's ability to eliminate toxins, stimulating the central nervous system, balancing metabolism maintaining skin color and elasticity keeping us looking young and fresh.
Chaga has a reputation over on the East side as "The King of Herbs", a "Gift From God" and is also referred to in Asian culture as the "Mushroom of Immortality". I'll say!
Many herbalists consider this to be nature's perfect herb. Thank you, I'll have some more.
Shall I summarize the goodness for you?
- Anti-hyperglycemic (balanced blood sugar)
- Anti-nociceptive (pain-relieving)
Studies have shown chaga to be the single most concentrated food source of antioxidants known to man. Now I hear you saying it: "Meghan! How can one food, a growth off a tree at that, be able to help so many health issues?".
That is the power of natural medicine. That is the power of using a whole food or a whole herb for healing. That is the strength of food as medicine. When we refrain from isolating any single active ingredient as is done in the refinement of pharmaceuticals, we are able to heal the whole person, restore total health from the root of the matter, and as a result, complete health is restored.
Even cooler than that, is that I now have Gingko in my front yard, and Chaga out back. I think I have caught the wild crafting bug. More will surely come this summer when we start seeking out ginseng and reishi.
Here are some more photos of mine and Josh's chaga hunting adventures.
Snow shoe ballet
Celebrating the chaga find in my AWESOME TOWN snow fort with all my friends.