Chaga (Inonotus Obliquus) is a mushroom that grows on birch trees. It may look like a cancerous tumor on the tree but it is actually used in cancer treatment. In fact, the Medical Academy of Science in Moscow approved chaga for cancer treatment back in 1955. It was successfully used to treat cancer in Australia back in 1960, as well, and is used in cancer treatment by the Japanese Cancer Society. There are also over 1,000 research papers supporting chaga use in the U.S. by Harvard Medical School, the National Cancer Institute, Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Health, and more. For further information and research visit Better Health Through Research.
Chaga is known to also lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol. It has been known to soothe neuropathy pain and ulcers, as well as boost the immune system. Chaga is antimicrobial, antiviral, and loaded with antioxidants. Researchers have found no negative side effects. The flavor is very mild and does not taste like your typical mushroom. You can even add the tea to soup stock without negatively altering the taste of your soup.
You can either harvest it yourself, as I did, or purchase chaga tea. When I harvest, I do so only in winter months when the tree sap is not flowing, for maximum health benefits. I find it on birch trees and you can tell it is chaga by the cork-like inside. I break the harvested piece into small pieces, about an inch big. The easiest way to make tea is with a small crockpot, in my experience. Photos from a batch I made today are shown below.
Simply place 4-5 chucks in the small crockpot. Add 4c. purified or distilled water. Set the crockpot on low, cover, and let it brew for 4-6 hours (I am usually impatient so I brewed the tea below for 4 hrs). I then strained it back into the measuring cup I used to add the water and poured it into an insulated steel bottle and put it in the refrigerator to make iced chaga tea. When I drink it warm, I add a little maple syrup to sweeten it; some people use honey instead. It is delicious and a cup a day is apparently incredibly good for you. Enjoy!