Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is also known as Cinder Conk or Black Mass, which accurately describe its appearance. This mushroom, which feeds on birch trees, is native to the forests of Europe, Russia, North America and cold northern climates in general, where birch is the primary tree species. For hundreds of years, Chaga has been wild-crafted and utilized by the people of northern Europe and Russia, often consumed as a tea.
The growing cycle of Chaga begins when a fruiting body of a higher fungi species enters a wound of a mature tree, forming a large hardened mycelial mass (the conk) that will continue to grow until it is harvested or falls to the forest floor. Chaga is unique among mushrooms as is rare to see the fruiting body in nature, with the hardened mycelial mass holding the herbal value.
A mushroom goes through many stages during its life cycle, just like any plant or animal. Each part of a mushroom has unique attributes that support wellness and serve a different purpose for the organism, but it’s the fruiting bodies that receive the most attention and are the most familiar. Fruiting bodies emerge from the substrate on which they grow — such as trees or fallen logs — to become the part of the mushroom we recognize. They’re the above-ground part that we can see when we walk through the woods, and they’re also what have been traditionally foraged and consumed, in food and supplements.
The fruiting bodies of this mushroom contain polysaccharides, specifically a type called beta-glucans, which have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness, as well as normal, healthy cell growth and turnover.* The fruiting body extracts we use contain these polysaccharides, without unnecessary fillers or starches.
Chaga offers antioxidant support, and it is considered to be a tonic Mushroom to support overall wellness.* It is used to promote healthy cell growth and turnover in the body, as well as gastrointestinal health.*
Chaga draws primarily from mature host birch trees to synthesize the potent triterpenoid compounds it contains.*
Uses of Chaga
This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.