Chaga (Inonotus obliquus).
Have you ever walked in the woods, and noticed this black canker on the trunk of birch trees? It looks like black charcoal from the fire, growing on a tree with rusty brown color inside. You have found chaga. It is a fungi that grows on birch primarily, with some exceptions of iron wood and may be others. It is active all year around and easier to spot in the winter.
Protect to regenerate
It is named after Russian name for this mushroom, as Siberia has lots of birch and chaga grows abundantly there. People use it there in place of black or green tea.
This fungi is a slow regenerating resource. Harvest 1/3 of it, if you do find it, to insure, it does not dissappear here like it happened in Sweden. The chaga was overharvested there, and took 20 years of ban of foraging to regenerate.
Chaga is very hard, woody substance. You would need a knife, or a saw, or axe to be able to cut it off tree. Make sure the tree is alive, as chaga is only active in this case. It won’t have beneficial properties, if it comes from a dead limb or tree.
So what is in chaga? It pulls the nutrients from the birch, and also uses the protective elements that the tree produced when this fungi attacks it. So it’s high antiseptic, antibacterial immune modulating elements abound.
This unique fungi was used in Russia in 16th century as help with eye, breast, stomach, intestines, liver, lungs and skin problems, as well as any type of oncology.
Russian chaga research
It was rubbed externally into achy joints. It has been officially used in Russia since 1952 after extensive research confirmed it’s multiple properties. The chaga extract Befungin or pills can be purchased in most drug stores there.
Chaga contains chaga acid (that brown color of chaga tea), fiber, phytosterols (regulates cholesterol and prevents tumors), silica, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and lots of potassium.
Chaga improves resistance to stress, increases bioelectrical activity in the brain, lowers the blood pressure. It has been recommended after strokes as restorative agent.
No more pain
If you ever get a sore throat and hoarse voice try chaga next time. It is a great antiviral for influensa A and B. One time I was teaching a class about chaga, and one of the students reported that her toothache went away after a couple cups of chaga.
One German doctor of 18th century left notes about chaga in his travel journal across Siberia. Local people hanti traditionally use chaga for TB prevention, and for any stomach pains, and internal cleansing agent. The “chaga soup” is used by women to wash skin during menstruation, for washing babies, and hands, feet and whole body washing due to tannins and saponification properties. To make this soup chaga is “burned until red”, add it to hot water and leave it until it turns black.
My favorite way of making chaga is tea. It is not supposed to boil. So heat the water (3 quarts) with a piece of chaga (1 inch cube), turn the heat off, and let steep anytime from 30 minutes to several hours of overnight. It can sit on the counter for days without going bad, but is best refrigerated. The material can be used for several more times, until no more color leaches out in the steeping process.
If you like to purchase chaga, please use reputable sources only to make sure the quality is the highest. If you harvest please take a little, and leave the rest to grow and regenerate. After your break it into pieces and throughly dry, it can be stored in a paper bag for 2 years.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I can be reached at 715 – 798 – 3175 or at my website: www.yulias.net