Chaga Coffee: How Mushroom Coffee Will Change Your Mornings Forever
Nutrient-rich wellness coffees have been climbing in popularity with the rise of superherbs and adaptogens. And it makes sense we would use this well-established daily ritual of enjoying our favorite morning beverage to try and do some good for our bodies. Adding an adaptogenic mushroom to your coffee is the easiest way to experience the ancient fungi's incredible health benefits. Chaga is one such mushroom, frequently added to pre-packaged wellness coffees on the market because it's filled with potent antioxidants that can help boost your everyday wellness and disease prevention.
What is chaga mushroom?
Chaga mushroom grows as a parasite on trees and looks like a burned piece of wood. It favors the birch tree, though it can be found on others, like elm or alder. When a tree gets a wound or a crevice in the bark, chaga finds its way into the hole and grows under the tree skin until it finally bursts out into a cracked and broken projection. Unfortunately, chaga kills a tree from the inside out, so by the time it juts out from the bark, the tree is almost dead.
For thousands of years, cultures have used Chaga to treat illnesses, restore vitality, and boost energy. In Russia, Poland, China, and the Baltic regions, the mushroom was used as medicine for health and longevity. The chaga chunks are used to make a tea and sometimes a tincture. It can also be found in powder form, though that's less common.
The indigenous people of the Siberian Mountains inhaled chaga, drank chaga tea, smoked chaga, and made a poultice from it to apply to the skin.
What are the health benefits of chaga mushrooms?
Chaga mushrooms are full of an astounding array of vitamins and minerals, including B-complex vitamins, amino acids, fiber, vitamin D, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, calcium, and magnesium. It's rich in antioxidants, which slows down the aging process and helps cells protect themselves from damage. Those same antioxidants can reduce bad cholesterol, which decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A good amount of reputable research has found chaga mushrooms to be beneficial in fighting cancer. While it's been used in European and Asian folk medicine for thousands of years, even referred to as a 'Gift from God,' American scientists have just begun studying its value for medicinal use.
A 2016 Japanese study demonstrated chaga's tumor-suppressant properties in mice. Chaga was administered to mice with cancerous tumors, and as a result, a 60% reduction in tumors was observed, while in mice with metastatic cancer, there was a 25% reduction in cancerous nodules.
Chaga is also an adaptogen, which helps regulate stress, reduces anxiety, and balances hormones through the adrenal system, contributing to total health.
How can I buy chaga mushrooms?
Chaga is widely available in different forms. Birch Boys offers chaga that's sourced from loggers working in the Adirondacks. They purchase the mushrooms that come from the birch trees that are already cut down. The company sells ground chaga for tea, suggesting you can substitute for the typical cup of morning coffee for a less caffeinated boost. They also have topical products like chaga lotions.
Other companies, like Four Sigmatic, offer adaptogen-coffee blends that include chaga. They usually come in powder form that can be blended with hot water and consumed as a healthy alternative to a cup of coffee.
You can also brew your own chaga tea by boiling chaga chunks directly in water—drink it as such, or use the tea instead of water in your coffee-making routine, and you've got simple homemade chaga coffee.
Bottom line: Should I try chaga coffee?
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Barbara Moschitta, MPS, RDN, lists the benefit of coffee even before it gets a superfood boost, "Coffee itself, without the addition of the mushroom, is a powerful antioxidant. There are approximately 1,000 antioxidants in the unprocessed green coffee bean, and hundreds more that develop during roasting." Antioxidants in coffee are associated with decreased mortality and a reduction in the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia. They've also shown promise in areas of fighting Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and different types of cancers.
Adding chaga to coffee can help fortify its antioxidant benefits, while aiding digestion and mitigating coffee's jittery effect on the body.
As with any supplement, it's important to speak with your doctor before you add it to your daily routine. If you don't have major health concerns, chaga mushrooms might be a potent wellness aid in your daily self-care routine.