He could not imagine any greater joy than to go away into the woods for months on end, to break off this chaga, crumble it, boil it up on a campfire, drink it and get well like an animal. To walk through the forest for months, to know no other care that to get better! Just as a dog goes to search for some mysterious grass that will save him…
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward
Chunk of Chaga foraged by Vincent Dumoulin, Cedar and Gold

Chunk of Chaga foraged by Vincent Dumoulin, Cedar and Gold

Inonotus Obliquus aka the Chaga Mushroom

Nothing compares to hunting chaga. Searching relentlessly, scanning each and every birch tree while breathing in the crisp forest air. When you spot the thick, charcoal black knot it feels like catching fish. It is at that moment you realize the forest is a living pharmacy. Chaga is a medicinal tree mushroom is known as the King of the Fungi Kingdom. It is a tonic herb with superior medicinal properties.

Chaga offers powerful immune system support, anti-oxidant, antiviral, anti-tumor properties. Consumed daily as a tea or in an elixir, you will feel vigorous, clear-minded, and energized. It is a food. Consumed by Siberian peoples for thousands of years. 

It is known for its powerful adaptogenic qualities, helping the body adapt to both internal and external stresses. Chaga mushrooms, which have an extremely high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, are an intensely rich source of antioxidants, making them powerful free radical scavengers. Beta glucan polysaccharides are another prominent and powerfully beneficial component of chaga which have been shown to be very effective in supporting, balancing, tonifying and enhancing the body’s own immune intelligence in order to overcome a variety of ailments, including those involving inflammation, infection, and even malignancies. In 1955, Chaga was approved for treating cancer by the Moscow Medical Academy of Science. 

Foraging Chaga

In addition to the myriad of immune boosting benefits and anti tumour properties, you will reap far greater benefits of foraging your own chaga. The amazing bonus of foraging for chaga is that you can harvest it all year round. Bundle up, put on a pair of snow shoes and enjoy the winter wonderland.

If you are living in the Northeast, your chances of finding your own chaga are high since the forests are densely populated with yellow birch trees rich in chaga. Keep your eyes peeled among the middle or upper segments of large birch tree trunks for the raw, charred chaga body growing. Chaga is not a base growing or ground dwelling fungi and it occasionally grows on other hosts than the birch such as the alder, elm, hornbeam and beech; however we have yet to find any and the medicinal properties likely vary since the birch tree in itself is a powerful specimen.

Once you magnetize the wild chaga be extra careful not to harm the tree. Responsible foraging does no harm or scarring of the tree. The chaga mushroom must be about the size of a pineapple, or else it is not mature. This is vital to keep the chaga population plentiful and healthy. Ensure the birch is still alive and keep in mind the adage

<< Dead tree, Dead Chaga>> 

Once you acquire a hefty chunk, be sure to give thanks for the blessing. We offer tobacco and thank the mighty birch and Earth for supplying us with this goodness of antioxidant powerhouse filled with anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-cancer and anti-hyperglycemic properties

Foraging in Quebec, Canada. Photo by Vincent Dumoulin, Cedar and Gold

Foraging in Quebec, Canada. Photo by Vincent Dumoulin, Cedar and Gold

Preparing Chaga: Hot / Cold Decoction

  • To prepare chaga in the raw form, use a large knife to break off the outer bark over a clean surface.
  • Make sure you prepare your chaga while it is fresh, which makes it much easier than doing so in the fully dried form.
  • Break the body of the chaga into several chunks by applying several blows with a mallet or blunt object.
  • From there you can either use a handful of chaga chunks and pour boiled spring water over it in a large mason jar (16 oz or 32 oz) and allow the betulinic acid to be slowly pulled over a couple of hours.  
  • To enjoy as a tea, re-heat the strained decoction at a low temperature. The same process can be done as a cold decoction with cold spring water.

**The outer bark is a layer that appears burnt, course, black and bitter in taste - also highly medicinal, contains most of the cancer fighting properties and may be kept to make a tincture.

Hot Chaga decoction in large mason jar. Pour hot spring water onto a handful or two of chaga chunks and let it sit for up to 2 hours and consume by re-heating or drinking at room temperature.

Hot Chaga decoction in large mason jar. Pour hot spring water onto a handful or two of chaga chunks and let it sit for up to 2 hours and consume by re-heating or drinking at room temperature.

We recommend doing one day hot decoction and the following day cold decoction since each process pulls different medicinal properties. The grounds of the powder and the chunks from the hot/cold decoction can be used over and over, until it has no taste.

Recommendations:

We recommend consuming at least 2 cups of chaga tea per day over a consistent period of time to attain the energizing and strengthening effects.

Try drinking your tea with some raw vanilla powder mixed in or sweeten with a teaspoon of organic maple syrup. We often use the chaga decoction as a base for our superfood oatmeal, in soups or smoothies.

Spirulina Smoothie with Chaga tea decoction as base. Photo by Vincent Dumoulin, Cedar and Gold

Spirulina Smoothie with Chaga tea decoction as base. Photo by Vincent Dumoulin, Cedar and Gold


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