What is Chaga?

Who ever thought that a chunk of charcoal looking mushrooms growing on a tree would be good for you? I know I sure didn’t. I heard of this mushroom while eating at a vegetarian/health food restaurant in Edmonton. My server was going on and how about its health benefits, so I decided to read up on it.

Here in the West, we tend to catch on to medicinal food trends much later on than East. The East has been consuming chaga for years, mainly as tea, and gaining from its immune-boosting ingredients and antioxidants. Nonetheless, it’s becoming more and more popular in the West and we finally have access! Now, at first glance, chaga doesn’t exactly look like the most appetizing mushroom – in fact, it doesn’t really look like a mushroom at all. However, this mushroom really packs a punch when it comes to health benefits. The good news for us Canadians is that these mushrooms typically grow on birch trees in colder climates across the Northern Hemisphere. Giddy Yoyo’s chaga has actually been hand picked from the Canadian boreal forest of Ontario and Quebec! How wonderful is that?

Now that we know where the mushroom lives, lets talk about why we want to eat this Canadian mushroom.

  1. Chaga supports the immune system in a big way. We all know of immune boosting foods, but what chaga does differently is that it actually balances the immune system. This means that not only does it boost the immune system, it will also slow it down when it is overactive.
  2. It is also known for its soothing properties, supporting the integrity of blood cells and aiding with irritation.
  3. Studies have shown that an ingredient called betulinic acid found in chaga is responsible for breaking down a bad cholesterol called LDL.
  4. Chaga is full of antioxidant properties. There are six ingredients that make chaga so healthy: Polysaccarides (provide energy, cardiovascular health, intestinal and liver health, promote healthy blood sugar levels); Beta-D-Glucans (modulate the immune system); Phytosterols (have a positive effect on viral compounds); melanin (gives chaga high antioxidant levels and gives it the highest ORAC score of any superfood); SODs – Super Oxide Dismutase (protects our body against the destructive effects of uncontrolled oxidation and free radicals). (1)

The suggested use, as per Giddy Yoyo’s instructions go a little like this..

Use 4 TBS GY CHAGA for every 1 litre of water; simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes to make a tonic, or up to 2 hours to make a concentrate, remembering to add water as necessary. You can brew your GY CHAGA up to 3 times or until the dark pigments no longer extract into the water. Store used GY CHAGA in the freezer in between batches. For variety add GY VANILLA BEAN POWDER, cinnamon, fresh ginger or other sweet & earthly spices to the brew. Add a spoonful of Coconut Oil before drinking. (2)

     

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