Chaga is a mushroom, a parasitic carpophore that looks like the charred remains of burned wood on the side of a birch tree (sometimes growing on Elm and Alder, but Birch is its favorite). The parasite enters the tree through a 'wound' in the bark of a mature tree. It then grows under the bark until it erupts in a deeply cracked, black charcoal like extension. It usually takes another 5-7 years for it to fully mature, at which point it falls to the forest floor, most times killing the host tree in the process. Chaga has been a part of folk medicine in Russia, Poland, China and numerous Baltic countries for many centuries. It was documented by Chinese herbalist Shen Nong in his herbal texts as early as the first century B.C.E. Traditional Chinese medicine reports that it is helpful in maintaining a healthy balance, preserving ones youth, and promoting longevity. Chaga tea is used in the Russian folk medicine for a wide treatment of many ailments. Recent studies have shown that it has a very high antioxidant compounds. The FDA has recommended that people should increase their antioxidant consumption to 7000 ORAC units a day.
What is ORAC?
ORAC stands for "Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity". This is a scale that measures the amount of free oxygen radicals in your body that a food or supplement can absorb. Free oxygen radicals are formed in our body from normal daily living, electricity, pollution, sun exposure and various other unavoidables. These free radicals bounce around our body beating up on our cell structure and organs, making us more susceptible to diseases. Cigarette smoke is full of free radicals. Ever notice how much older smokers look?
Researchers have also discovered that consumption of foods with a high ORAC score helps deter memory loss. Chaga has the highest reported ORAC score in natural foods or oils. Chaga also has Polysaccharides, that other medicinal mushrooms contain, and Triterpenes only found elsewhere in Ganoderma.
It appears that Russians have been making and drinking Chaga tea for centuries. It was used as a substitute for real tea by people who could not afford the real thing.
The dried, shredded inner part of the conk is softened by soaking in cold but previously boiled water for 4 hours. Filter and save both the liquid portion as well as the softened fungus. An infusion is prepared by pouring sterilized boiled water, cooled to 50º C (122º F), over the fungus (use a weight ratio of about 1:5 fungus to water). Let stand at room temperature for 48 hours. The mixture is then filtered (coffee filter) and the water in which the fungus was originally soaked is added to the filtrate.
Dosage: The infusion can be used for up to 4 days. Three glasses should be taken per 24-hour period,
approximately 30 minutes before meals. It takes some 7 kg a month of the fungus for a course of treatment, lasting 4 to 7 months, with short breaks if necessary.
Prepare a tea by boiling the ingredients for a few minutes. Use approximately 3 square centimeters or one tablespoon of crushed dried mushroom. It will produce about one gallon of tea to be to be taken in a dose of 3 cups per day, 1/2 hour before meals. Continue for 15-20 weeks with intervals of 7-10 days. According to anti-tumour studies, boiling activates anti-tumour particles leading to tumour inhibition in mice (Lucas 1960). So, it seems that both folklore and laboratory evidence point toward boiling the fungus and administering the tea.
Note: It is important to never overheat the fungus and to treat it as you would yeast, never subjecting it to too much heat or cold.
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