Chaga mushrooms are touted as one of the most health-giving, nutrient-dense superfoods on the planet, and have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Fun fact: They have also been used in Russia as a treatment for cancer since the 1950s. Dubbed the “Mushroom of Immortality” and the “King of Mushrooms”, the fungus has a list of health benefits so long that it seems slightly crazy that we aren’t all downing the stuff daily.
Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms
Where to start… Not only does it lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, it supports the immune system and fights inflammation. Amazingly, chaga mushrooms contain betulonic acid, which targets dangerous cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. And so more and more scientists are looking these medicinal mushrooms as a way to fight and cure cancer. In terms of health benefits, you would think this would be more than enough — but wait, there is more.
Let’s talk about chaga’s beauty and skin health benefits. For starters, chaga is the second most antioxidant-rich food on the planet (right after dark chocolate). Why is that important? We are exposed to oxidative stress on a daily basis (think sun exposure, toxins, pollution, etc.), which in turn triggers the physical signs of aging — wrinkles, sagging skin, gray hair, to name a few of the horrors. This is why it is important to eat an antioxidant-rich diet. And if chaga and chocolate are the best food sources of antioxidants, who are we to tell you not to dig in? (Keep in mind other highly nutritious food like blueberries, black berries, goji berries, pecans, etc. are great sources of antioxidants as well).
Chaga Mushroom’s Skin Health Benefits
Chaga mushrooms also contain the highest natural form of melanin available. Remember, melanin is the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair and iris. When ingested, chaga mushrooms stimulate the melanin in the body and nourish the skin, hair and eyes. It is also thought that melanin helps to protect again UV damage from the sun as well. In addition to protecting our cells from aging too quickly, chaga may help to diminish age spots and erase those unsightly white blotches that appear on the skin as we age (these are caused by a decline of melanin in the body).
Another interesting tidbit is that chaga mushrooms are believed to activate the pineal gland, which is what yogis refer to as the third eye. Supposedly, most people have a calcified pineal gland and the melanin in chaga heals and switches this gland back on, which leads to more peaceful sleep, more memorable dreams and an enhanced sense of well-being (thank you, better, more restful sleep).
Like reishi and other medicinal mushrooms, chaga is an adaptagen. Adaptagens help the body cope with stress and combat the negative effects of cortisol. Daily stress, whether it is from your job, the daily commute, traffic, etc., is a major contributing factor to illnesses and is also what ages us the most (perhaps after smoking and bad diet choices). After all, cortisol is known as the aging hormone. Consuming adaptagens can help counteract the effects of cortisol thereby slowing the aging process. Kind of amazing, right?
While chaga mushrooms may not be great for absolutly everyone (do your research and check with a TCM practitioner or naturopathic doctor), the benefits are far to great to be ignored.
Finding Chaga Mushrooms
So, where do these otherworldly mushrooms come from? They grow on birch trees throughout the northern hemisphere, most notably in Canada, northern regions of the U.S., Russia, Korea and parts of eastern and northern Europe. Chaga mushrooms look less like the mushrooms we are used to seeing and more like burnt masses that attach themselves to birch trees. When harvested, only a portion is taken and the fungus is then left to propagate.
Of course, like anything these days, you need to be conscious of where your mushrooms come from because there a lot of unregulated sources on the market. But fear not, we have done some of the legwork for you. Enter stage right California-based company Black Magic Alchemy. The company goes on harvesting expeditions to Canada and then brews the chaga mushrooms with rootbeer spices and tonic herbs to create a concoction that is nothing short of delicious. They also sell chaga mushroom pieces if you are more the DIY type (and there are some delicious recipes on their website so be sure and check those out).
We got in contact with Black Magic Alchemy’s Michael Edward Walsh to find out more. His love of these extraordinary mushrooms is nothing short of obsessive and it seems both he and Shane Tyler Milson, the company’s CEO, have only just begun.
Where is the company based?
We Brew it in Venice [California], and the company is based wherever Shane says he is in his Instagram story that day (@shanetylermilson).
When and why did you fall in love with chaga mushrooms?
January 28, 2004 at 6:32pm. I was on my eleventh carrot juice when I realized I needed to make a change. My life was crippling. Friends and family were so bored with me always telling them that “a keto juice cleanse was the only way to get to heaven in this lifetime.”
What beauty/skin benefits does chaga offer?
The superoxide dismutase content is what chaga is known for and is great for skin health. But I believe that good skin starts on the inside. You have to start with emotional well-being, then look at nutrition and hormones, then after that, the skin’s external conditions. Shane and I both had severe acne growing up, but now, we both have skin that glows on the level of an ageless Hollywood star. Good skin is a byproduct of living a good life. A life with less stress, more CBD pancakes and acai bowls in the Hollywood hills, Malibu beaches and Ontario forests.
Is it safe to consume every day?
Our Elixir is hyper-concentrated and dual extracted, and the average daily recommended dose is 1 to 2 tablespoons a day. With that, you’ll get more than a substantial daily chaga mushroom medicinal boost (500-1000mg).
Is one way of consuming more beneficial than others?
Health is meant to be fun and rootbeer has always been a superfood. It is made out of roots like burdock, sarsaparilla and wild cherry tree bark, so it’s a detox in every sense. The ultimate digestive tonic, alcohol-free social and spiritual lubricant and a delicious daily immune blastoff.
What is your favorite chaga recipe?
Coffee with a rootbeer shot is the new chocolate and peanut butter. Not only is it the ultimate complementary flavor, it also balances out the acidity of coffee because chaga is the most alkaline forming herb on the planet. I brew my coffee in a French press, not with water but with chaga tea — a hyper-concentrated brew, brought almost to the boiling point. Then, once the coffee is brewed, I do the classic Bulletproof thing where you get as many fats and fancy superfoods that the human mind can conceive of, and shove them all together in a blender. The most important of these superfoods is the Black Magic Chaga Rootbeer Elixir. Why? Two reasons: 1: I’m extremely biased because it’s my own product. 2: It’s a super concentrated daily chaga mushroom supplement that also acts as a sweetener (but only 1g of sugar) and is packed full of antioxidants. Another good one is 2 tbsp of Black Magic Elixir mixed with 8oz of almond milk.
Have you experimented with chaga mushrooms before? Or maybe you have tried Black Magic Alchemy’s Elixir? if so, tell us all about it in the comments below!