Continuing this series of blogs on the functional mushrooms found in our MycoCollagen powder, we move onto with another massive player in the functional mushroom realm Chaga (Inonotus obliquus).
Chaga is one of the most celebrated mushrooms, but it is not a mushroom (more on that later). Its powers are revered worldwide for many reasons, and its medicinal or functional powers are second to none in certain areas.
This fungus is genuinely impressive, with properties claimed to help skin health through to curing cancer. It is a fascinating area to research and intriguing to read about. As with all the other blogs in this series, this is just a quick overview of the subject, with references, should you want to read further into the subject.
Chaga Mushroom, what is it and a little history
This amazing mushroom is not a mushroom. The fruiting body is actually a canker or conk. This is produced by a parasitic fungus, which usually grows on hardwood trees, especially Birch. It’s called a parasitic fungus, as it kills the host tree with the enzymes that break down the tree from the inside. But this process is what gives Chaga its functional properties. This is not the prettiest of the functional fungus’—dark brown to black on the outside of the fruiting body, which is hard, unlike a mushroom. On the inside of Chaga is a vibrant orange colour, which is how you tell it is Chaga. Chaga can be found in the northern hemisphere growing in birch trees across Northern Europe and Northern America. It is hard to find true Chaga, but when you do, it is true magic for your health.
The first recorded case of the use of Chaga has been accredited to 17th century Russia, where herbalists used Chaga to cure ailments such as intestinal issues to cancers. Historical anecdotes show that Chaga was used as early as the 12th century by Tsar Vladimir Monomakh, who used it to cure a tumour on his lip. Fantastic stuff, if true. So with the history and a little information on the fungus itself, let us move on to the benefits and why we put it into our product.
Chaga and its active compounds
Chaga has over 200 active compounds, many of which help by supporting your bodily systems in many ways. Since it was first studied in 1864, the analysis revealed the bio-active ingredients found within the Chaga are what give it the healing properties. Since we aim to make these blogs easy to read, we will concentrate on the four major ones in this post. Those being:
Benzoic acid derivatives
Again, there are pieces of literature that give a much greater depth of knowledge, and some of these can be found in the references section at the end of this blog. If you want to go down the scientific approach, please read these and send some love to the writers.
I have broken the information into small chunks, and the possible benefits can be found in the titles for reference.
Chaga Mushroom and the possible benefits to your immune system
Chaga has many benefits to your immune system through various compounds. The first we will cover is polysaccharides, especially their beta-glucans. These active compounds are beneficial for their immunomodulatory, antioxidative, and hepatoprotective properties (protecting the liver).
Chaga allows, through its beta-glucans, a boost to your immune system like that found in Reishi. It also protects cells from oxidative degeneration and cellular DNA, mitochondria and skin from the damage of time. This also has benefits towards keeping your liver healthy and functioning correctly.
The following active ingredient that may help your immune system is Chaga’s triterpenes. Chaga has a special triterpernoid called inotidiol. Again, this has been shown to help immunomodulation and has excellent antioxidant properties; as an additional bonus, inotidiol has anti-viral properties demonstrated in animal studies.
Chaga and its unique immune system properties
As well as its beta-glucans and triterpenes, Chaga has a unique triterpene that it obtains through how it grows on Birch trees. Birch trees contain a triterpene called betulinic acid and the precursor to this betulin. As the fungus attacks the tree with its enzymes, it extracts nutrients from the tree. This, in turn, allows Chaga to retain the betulin and betulinic acid within its fruiting body. This will enable Chaga to have unique properties in the functional mushroom world. These two compounds have been shown to help with the following properties:
Going back to the anecdote from the 12th century regarding the Tsar and his lip cancer, this may not be just an anecdote, as the very betulin compound I have briefly described also has been shown to decrease a-typical cell growth (cancers). So this story may not just be an old wives tale, and there may be ancient wisdom to help fight the horrible disease.
Chaga and its benefits to skin, hair and more
Chaga also contains the mammalian pigmentation found in skin, eyes, hair and nervous system melanin. This has been shown to have broad uses in our systems, especially in antioxidant properties and protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It was shown in one study when used; fungal melanin protected mice from lethal doses of radiation in 80% of the test subjects. There is also an excellent story in “Healing Mushrooms” by Tero Isokauppila (you should buy this book, it’s wonderful), where two world-famous snowboarders use Chaga for its anti-inflammatory properties and its skin-protecting abilities. As the two spend a lot of time in the sun, where the sun also gets reflected at them from the snow, Chaga gives them an internal sunblock layer to reduce the skin damage they receive.
This fungus is remarkable in its possible benefits and was a must in our functional blend. But that’s not all, below are our top six picks for the many benefits Chaga may bring to your health.
Our top 6 picks for the Chaga benefits
Chaga has one of the highest contents of antioxidants when g/g in the world when double extracted. Our blend contains double extracted Chaga.
Protects your body from oxidative stress on cells, mitochondria and DNA.
Triggers primary response in your immune system.
It helps your body deal with toxic agents.
Helps protect the digestive tract.
It helps to regulate microbiota in your gut.
Aids muscle fatigue
It has been shown to help in endurance.
Due to its ability to aid glycogen stores in the muscles and liver.
Blood glucose levels
It may support a balanced blood sugar level.
It may help increase healthy pancreatic tissue.
It has been shown to reduce redness, dryness and irritated skin.
Melanin for UV protection. It helps keep your skin healthy and younger-looking.
Chaga round up
As the possibile benefits show why we put Chaga in our products here at Ancestral Edge, our flagship supplement MycoCollagen is designed to keep you healthier inside and out—using ancestral knowledge to help maintain healthy joints, tendons, skin, organs and your immune system. By using functional mushrooms, you, too, can improve bodily functions.
The following blog will be about the nootropic (brain food) benefits we bring in our products by utilising Lion's Mane extract. Another well-studied, unique and extraordinary mushroom.
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Healing mushrooms, Tero Isokauppila
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