Many Säpp fans often ask- what's up with the chaga addition to all your flavored varieties? We've teamed up with leading herbalist Micaela Foley (from The Alchemist's Kitchen NYC) to describe the amazing benefits of this super herb. Given that chaga grows exclusively on birch trees, we are proud to keep harnessing the power of forests and birch trees specifically in our new flavors!
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), arguably the most antioxidant-rich substance on the planet, is one of herbal medicine’s indispensable medicinal mushrooms-- or rather-- slow-growing parasitic polypore fungus. A relatively new colloquialism to our Western herbal repertoire, chaga’s medicinal properties have been touted for centuries in places like Siberia, Russia, and Northeast Asia. Boasting the highest known ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of any substance, chaga contains 25- 50 times more antioxidants than vitamin C, wild blueberries, Co Q10, strawberries, seaweeds, and fish oils. Chaga is an extremely effective detoxifier. Helpful as part of holistic cancer protocols, chaga is specifically indicated for inhibiting tumoral growths.
Unsurprisingly, chaga has many other health benefits as well. It is also endurance enhancing, anti-inflammatory, improves insulin resistance, lowers LDL and high blood pressure, is anti-fungal, -viral, and -bacterial, and immune system modulating. Chaga is additionally nootropic; one study done in Japan demonstrated the beneficial effects of chaga mushroom on cognitive function in mice with amnesia. In previous studies, chaga has been shown to display therapeutic neural effects, lower oxidative brain stress, and restore the levels of acetylcholine which promotes learning and the formation of memories.
Chaga contains naturally occurring vanillin, similar to the vanilla bean and has a slight vanilla flavor when properly prepared. Chaga also contains the compound melanin, and minerals like manganese, iron, copper, calcium,potassium, and zinc. It is commercially available as a tincture, powder, prepared drink, or tea. Often sold in raw chunks, chaga can be decocted-- that is, boiled for at least 20 mins or until the water becomes a deep brown color. Chunks of chaga may be reused in decoctions until they stop releasing their brown color.
Viable chaga grows exclusively on birch trees in very cold climates and can be found in the birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, Northern United States, and Canada. Due to a dwindling number of birch trees, chaga must be harvested sustainably; only the outer conk should be removed from the tree, with 15-20% of the growth left, and only in the late fall and winter, before the tree’s sap runs. High dose usage of chaga should be reserved for the very ill, and chaga should always be sourced from a company that practices sustainable harvesting and manufacturing, and commits to planting new birch trees.
Amelioration of scopolamine induced cognitive dysfunction and oxidative stress by Inonotus obliquus – a medicinal mushroom, Vijayasree Vayalanellore Giridharan, Rajarajan Amirthalingam Thandavarayan and Tetsuya Konishi, Food Funct., 2011
Chaga -- The Facts