The West of Wild Guide To Chaga Mushrooms

Here at West of Wild, we’re fans of all things mushrooms. From their adaptogenic properties, to their ability to help us solve our plastic problem; mushrooms are it. However, one mushroom in particular continually seeks our attention: Chaga Mushrooms.

RE: Chaga Mushrooms

This black-gold fungi is generally found growing on birch trees in Scandanavia and continually peaks our interest for its ability to support optimal wellness.

Medicinal mushroom benefits

Medicinal Use of Chaga Mushrooms

Chaga mushrooms have been an significant element of Nordic folk medicine for hundreds of years. This medicinal fungi has traditionally been sought after for it’s antioxidant properties and is considered an all-around ‘body guard’.

It is believed that consuming chaga, (I.e. in tea or in coffee), can help to support healthy immune function and enhance general wellbeing.

What is Chaga?

In technical terms, chaga is black-gold fungi that grows on birch trees; in places where the tree’s bark has been compromised. Chaga has a symbiotic relationship with the Birch, exchanging nutrients in a way that benefits both organisms. For example, chaga is able to pull nutrients out of the soil that are not bioavailable to the roots of the tree.

chaga mushroom benefits

The Chaga Mushroom

Promotes general wellbeing

Chaga is generally harvested in extremely cold northern climates. Being that it grows in such a dramatic climate, the chaga mushroom has developed great resiliency to environmental stress.

Chaga mushroom’s ability to withstand freezing cold temperatures, UV radiation, and potentially invasive pathogens, may provide the key to why it seems to provide humans with a more resilient immune system.

What does Chaga taste like?

Chaga mushroom, when prepared as a tea does not taste much different than coffee. Therefore, chaga can be generally be substituted in recipes that call for coffee.

Tasting Notes:

  • bitter;
  • smooth, and;
  • earthy.

However, the bitter, earthy taste of chaga can be mitigated by mixing it with coffee, or blending it into a creamy latte. We’ve included our editor’s recipe for the ultimate Chaga Latte, below.

West of Wild Loves Chaga

One of our editors decided to experiment with Chaga Tea when she was experiencing a heavy workload – and, unfortunately, seeing the excess stress show up on her face. She decided to cut back on her every-other-night glass of wine and sip on a warm cup of chaga tea instead.

The results were pretty astounding. Whether it was the added relaxation of drinking a cup of tea, a decrease in her consumption of alcohol, or the antioxidants present in chaga, her skin was noticeably less red, more clear, and generally much more vibrant.

We are now following her lead and adding chaga tea into our nightly ritual when our skin is feeling lackluster. For other evening alcohol alternatives, check out our guide to winding down without wine.

What Studies Have Been Done On Chaga?

While no clinical trials have been conducted to formally prove the health benefits of chaga mushrooms, almost 200 in-vitro studies have been performed. Many of which show promising results.

Some of these studies include:

  • 2005  in-vitro study showing that chaga mushrooms exhibit anti-inflammatory effects;
  • 2015  animal study showing that chaga could enhance endurance during exercise, and;
  • 2011 animal study showing that chaga could enhance cognitive functions like memory and learning.

However, for specific questions about chaga, and if you have a pre-existing health condition, be sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner for medical advice before trying chaga.

Where To Buy Chaga?

There are many companies that sell chaga mushrooms in tea, coffee, or tablet form. This chaga is sourced primarily from countries in the northern hemisphere such as Scandanavia, Siberia, Canada, and even the United States. Some of our favorites brands that make adaptogenic elixirs and other supplements are Four Sigmatic, the self-proclaimed PR firm for mushrooms, and FOCL CBD, who combines mushrooms with other adaptogens in their wellness boosting stacks.

If you choose to buy chaga in powder form, check out our editor’s delicious Chaga “Hot Cocoa” Recipe, below.

Chaga “Hot Cocoa” Recipe

chaga hot cocoa recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Chaga Mushroom Powder 
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Local Honey (or other sweetener of choice, or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp Raw Almond Butter 
  • 2 Tbsp Cacao Powder 
  • 1 pinch ground Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground Nutmeg
  • 1 pinch Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened Hemp Milk (or Oat Milk, Macadamia Nut Milk, Almond Milk).

Directions:

  1. Add mushroom powder, honey, almond butter, cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt to a blender.
  2. Heat plant-based milk until hot and add to the blender. Blend for 30 seconds, or until frothy and well blended.
  3. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
  4. Enjoy warm in your favorite mug.
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