Written by Kerry Hughes
Functional mushrooms are finally having their moment in the public spotlight, in large part due to the growing amount of research into their health benefits as well as their applications in food. Among the most common functional mushrooms, Shiitake, Reishi and Lion’s Mane are probably the ones you hear about most often, as they are a big part of the “food as medicine” movement.
However, there’s another player in the functional mushroom world that we can’t forget about: Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus). This cold weather lover grows in places like Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada, and has long been used in Russian traditional medicine. In fact, Chaga’s common name is derived from the Russian word for “mushroom” but it does not look anything like the typical mushroom shape. Chaga is actually associated with certain trees, such as birch trees, and it looks like clumps of charcoal growing from the trunk. Chaga mushrooms can grow as large as soccer balls and have squishy yellow centers.
So how did people get the idea to scoop it up and put it in their coffee?!
Chaga has a long history in traditional medicine and has been used as a coffee substitute since World War II. In Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, it’s used to support the heart, immune system, gastrointestinal health, as well as blood sugar balance*. Although there is still only a limited amount of clinical evidence for Chaga, preclinical studies have confirmed many of these traditional indications.123456 For example, studies have shown liver protecting activity, increases in physical endurance as a result of Chaga intake as well as increased cytokine balance. Best of all, Chaga is part of the ‘superfood’ category with one of the highest measured antioxidant values of all foods!
Good Pharma has included Organic Chaga Mushroom Extract into Resilience – their immune support supplement – for its health-supporting activity AND it adds a beautifully complex flavor to the tea. Indigenous groups have been harnessing the power of Chaga mushroom for centuries and I, for one, am grateful to them for the wisdom!
Kerry Hughes is an ethnobotanist, herbalist and author. With over 20 years of experience in natural product development, Kerry excels at the nexus of market opportunity identification, innovation product formulation and global natural product ingredient development. Kerry is driven by a tenacious fascination with the role that plants can play in not only healing people but also protecting our threatened global biodiversity. Read Kerry’s full bio here.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.