Of all the functional mushrooms, there’s none more insidious in appearance than chaga. The Chaga mushroom grows naturally in birch forests, typically seen attached to the side of a tree, growing in charred black clusters, similar in appearance to a patch of burnt tree bark. It’s a look that doesn’t encourage your appetite, but crack a chaga mushroom open, and a golden brown interior is revealed, one which promises a variety of health benefits.
Chaga’s heaping antioxidant content and high concentrations of adaptogens holds great promise for bolstering immune response, as well as combating oxidative stress in the body. New functional mushroom shoppers might express some skepticism upon hearing these potential health benefits, but there’s a lengthy history of medicinal use for this unique functional mushroom and a growing body of evidence to support its worth.
What Are Functional Mushrooms?
If this question comes to mind — we’ve got some work to do. Functional mushrooms are an emerging health and wellness product, capable of delivering a range of health benefits without any of the intoxicating effects associated with Psychedelic mushrooms. Functional mushrooms are safe to eat and perfectly legal.
The name functional mushrooms is a reference to the augmenting capabilities of these unique fungi. In some corners these shrooms are called medicinal mushrooms and in others — adaptogenic mushrooms — but regardless of any colloquial tag, the important distinction is that functional mushrooms offer more than mere sustenance.
These mushrooms are positively brimming with bioactive compounds; beta glucans, adaptogens, polysaccharides, terpenes, fatty acids, and more. As well, these mushrooms are nutrient rich and packed with vitamins.
There are a variety of functional mushroom strains, each bolsters the body or mind in novel ways. While not exhaustive, these are the most common functional mushrooms infused into supplements:
Chaga Mushrooms Benefits
Chaga mushroom’s most noteworthy benefit is the treatment of minor inflammation in the body. Low level inflammation over a long period of time is believed to have serious health implications and potentially results in disease or chronic illness. Chaga mushrooms can inhibit the production of damaging cytokines — these cytokines can increase inflammation in the body — and there’s scientific backing to support Chaga’s anti inflammatory properties.
The nutritional value of chaga mushrooms is nothing to scoff at as these adaptogenic superfoods contain vitamin B and D and prebiotic fiber; these fibers aren’t digested but they feature beneficial bacteria that can improve the diversity in your gut microbiome. By improving gut health, you improve digestion, as well as further the immune boosting effects of these mushrooms because a majority of your immune system is contained in the gut.
As with all functional mushrooms, Chaga contains adaptogens and antioxidants. Adaptogenic compounds can help the body prepare for physical and mental stressors, thereby making the user more resilient. Chaga mushrooms have compounds that help to reduce free radicals in the body, which damage cells in unpredictable ways. The beta glucans in Chaga mushrooms can enhance immune response along with lowering cholesterol and help with managing blood sugars.
One of the most surprising, and welcome benefits of Chaga is how these adaptable mushrooms can enhance beauty.
The Beauty Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms
While chaga mushrooms won’t directly enhance your appearance or keep you looking beautiful long into retirement, Chaga has the necessary properties to combat oxidative stress and its detrimental effects.
Oxidative stress results from an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Our bodies naturally produce free radicals and antioxidants, and when we function properly, balance is maintained, and antioxidants neutralize the free radicals preventing any impact on health. When things fall out of balance, health issues arise.
Prolonged periods of oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation in the body, and it can have some incredibly undesirable effects on our skin. Long term oxidative stress will age your skin quicker, resulting in:
- Sagging skin
- Decreased moisture
- Sensitive skin
Altogether, these hindrances to your beauty will reduce the vigor of your skin, ultimately making you look older. Not only will chaga combat oxidative stress in your body but it will also aid with inflammation in the body that could make you appear bloated or swollen.
How To Take Chaga Mushrooms
Chaga’s off-putting appearance and earthy taste is a deterrent to consumers. The mushroom species is incredibly tough and biting into a piece of raw chaga mushroom won’t encourage you to take the mushrooms as a daily supplement — that’s if your teeth can even penetrate the mushroom’s hardened exterior.
Another issue with eating raw chaga is that you might not receive chaga mushroom benefits by chomping down on a piece of wild mushroom. Many of the desirable nutrients and bioactive compounds are concealed within the chitin, which is the fungi cell walls. Functional mushroom companies break apart chaga mushrooms, grinding them into a powder including all plant parts. This ensures that the chitin is also featured in the supplement you’re buying.
With that in mind — your best bet to receive chaga mushroom benefits is by purchasing an organic product that’s ready for ingestion.
Defence – Chaga Capsules
Brain Brands’ Defence Capsules take 1000 mg of chaga mushroom extract and compact it into a capsule format. The organic ingredients and effortless application makes this product a perfect choice for people who want to incorporate functional mushrooms into their daily routine without any fuss. With a price tag of $49.99 and 120 vegan capsules per bottle, adding some chaga to your day doesn’t get any more affordable than this.
Seven Mushroom Complex Capsules
Sometimes it’s hard to choose. With Seven Mushroom Complex Capsules you’ll receive a dose of chaga mushrooms alongside 6 beneficial functional mushrooms for a range of health benefits. Each capsule offers an immune boost, anti-inflammatory effects, promotes calm and fosters gut health, and the combination might even help your cardiovascular health and prevent disease. A 90 vegan capsules bottle delivers 2240 milligrams of extract in every serving, and the $49.99 price tag is enticing.
Optimize – 5 Matrix Blend
Looking for the benefits of chaga with a side order of focus, clarity, memory retention and cognitive performance? Optimize 5 Matrix Blend combines chaga, reishi, Lion’s Mane, cordyceps and turkey tail for an energetic formula that will also sharpen your mind. Capsules contain 500 mg of mushroom extract and bottles retail for $49.99.
Seven Mushroom Blend Coffee
Customers can also opt for their chaga dose in a hot cup of coffee — that might sound like a folktale, but it’s a real product. Brain Brands produces a Seven Mushroom Blend Coffee that takes all of the benefits of our Seven Mushroom Complex Capsules and blends them with rich Columbian coffee beans. The finished product is a medium roast coffee that features 2250 mg of mushroom extract but is indiscernible from a premium coffee beverage. If you want chaga mushroom benefits in a coffee that’s so delicious, you’ll forget you’re consuming functional mushrooms — this is the product for you.
The Bottom Line: Chaga Mushroom Benefits
What’s most important with functional mushrooms is that you take them on a daily basis and for an extended period of time, because functional mushrooms provide cumulative benefits. The need to take them day in and day out demands that you buy a product that you’ll have no issues remembering to take, and a product that doesn’t have an offensive taste.
The best method of incorporating functional mushrooms into your daily routine is to choose the product that fits. If you take vitamins in the morning, then adding chaga mushroom capsules to the mix won’t throw off your morning routine. And if coffee is the first thing you crave when you wake up, then substituting a cup of mushroom coffee for your regular coffee will give you an early morning adaptogenic boost.
Consider how and when you’d like to take Chaga mushrooms and shop accordingly.