Chaga Extract | The Siberian secret to boosting health
Organic Chaga Extract is a fortifying dietary supplement extracted from Chaga. This is a mushroom that grows exclusively on birch, the characteristic tree of the Siberian Taiga, and which has featured in traditional Siberian pharmacopoeias for thousands of years. Primarily consumed for its regenerating, reinvigorating and antioxidant properties, it is very popular for warding off winter infections and energising the immune system.
What exactly is chaga?
Chaga is a mushroom associated with the birch tree which flourishes in the heart of the coldest and most hostile regions of the planet. It’s found mainly in the vast wildernesses of Siberia, home to fast-flowing, icy rivers. In this hugely inhospitable environment, the chaga mushroom is revered by the Nenet, Evenk and Mansi. For thousands of years, these Siberian nomadic peoples have had to rely on hunting (wild reindeer, red deer, ptarmigan …), fishing (salmonids, monkfish and grayling) and gathering, both for nourishment and for developing natural and powerful Shamanic remedies. Chaga was, for a long time, one of their best-kept secrets: they used it to make an invigorating tea to help them ward off fatigue, cold, hunger and any illness or injury that might befall them in these harsh, unforgiving conditions. It was only from the 1980s onwards that this knowledge reached a wider audience as European settlers became more interested in indigenous lands than in their own pharmacopoeia and folklore …
Today, these traditional practices have been validated by scientific studies which have confirmed chaga to be an exceptional natural compound, capable of enhancing the immune system via multiple modes of action. Its popularity in the West has risen sharply since the discovery in 2011 that it also offered potential for slowing down the progress of certain tumours.
What health benefits are offered by chaga?
Organic Chaga Extract a natural extract which above allboosts immunity. Immunity is the body’s ability to defend itself againstthreats in the form of microbes (viruses, bacteria, pathogenic fungi, parasites) and anarchic cells that have become cancerous.
Chaga is widely used as a natural medicine in China, Russia, Korea and the Baltics (1). In particular, it helps to:
- Stimulate the immune system, especially when the body is under stress (in winter, or from infection, injury, or lack of sleep …). The polysaccharides in chaga incite certain immune cells to secrete interferon and interleukins (2), two messengers crucial to the quality and reactivity of the immune response (3).
- Boost the body’s natural antioxidant system. Certain of chaga’s compounds increase expression of the genes responsible for producing superoxide dismutase (SOD) and reduced glutathione (GSH), two endogenous antioxidants (4).
- Reduce physical and mental fatigue. This revitalizing effect is due to chaga-induced increases in glycogen in the liver and muscles, and restoring of the body’s endogenous antioxidants.
- Ease pain and reduce levels of inflammation. Chaga’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms lie primarily in its ability to inhibit both pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and IL-8 (5-6) and expression of cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).
- Slow down the progress and proliferation of certain abnormal cells. Some of the active compounds in chaga are able to stop the cycle whereby anarchic cells multiply out of control (7).
- Reduce glycaemia. Chaga aids regeneration of the B-pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin, and at the same time, helps lower blood glucose and oxidative stress levels.
The renowned international author David Wolfe has written a book on the healing powers of this extraordinary mushroom. In it, he recounts a delightful tale: according to Siberian nomads, chaga always chooses to ‘make its home’ in a fragile part of the tree in order to protect it. When we consume it, we too are benefiting from its protective properties …
What is chaga composed of?
Recent chemical tests have shown that chaga contains more than 200 types of active substance (8). The most significant of these are the beta-glucan polysaccharides which are responsible for most of the mushroom’s blood sugar-lowering, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (9-10), as well as its benefits for the immune system.
Our Organic Chaga Extract supplement contains a high level of these polysaccharides due to the water extraction used to obtain the chaga sporophores. This method of extraction also enables the following compounds to be preserved:
- melanin, a remarkable antioxidant which also has blood sugar-lowering properties (11);
- hispidin, which has beneficial effects against abnormal cells;
- betulinic acid, another anti-proliferative compound. This is the characteristic white powdery substance you see on the bark of birch trees which chaga tends to accumulate.
What additional measures can be combined with chaga supplementation?
To benefit from chaga’s tonic effects, Siberian nomads would remove part of the mushroom from the birch and add it to hot water to make a tea. But with SuperSmart’s Organic Chaga Extract, standardised in polysaccharides for maximum effect, you can simply swallow a capsule instead.
In addition, we recommend you take the following three steps throughout the supplementation period:
- Increase your level of physical activity (even if it’s only slightly) and exercise regularly (12-13).
- Ensure you get enough sleep (at least 7 hours a night in general).
- Take a quality multivitamin such as Daily 3 to prevent what is in fact widespread deficiency in micronutrients. The quality of your immune response will be affected by a lack of even one of these micronutrients: zinc, selenium, iron, copper, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E.
If your immune system is seriously compromised, you could also take an extract of green propolis alongside your chaga supplement.
Attention: taking chaga is contraindicated for type 1 diabetics, those suffering from coagulation problems and those who’ve undergone a transplant.