Chaga Extract, the world’s most potent supplement?
Chaga, or Inonotus Obliquus to give it its scientific name, is a medicinal mushroom with very special ingredients.
Chaga can be found growing on birch trees throughout the colder regions of the Northern Hemisphere, most notably Siberia, parts of China, North America, and North-Korea.
It's health benefits have been used for centuries by eastern cultures and native Americans. More recently, Chaga is being discovered in western cultures after years of scientific studies into it's medicinal benefits.
What are these special ingredients?
The most important active ingredients of chaga are beta-glucans (a type of polysaccharides) and betulinic acid.
Chaga also contains phytosterols (mostlyinotodiol and lanosterol) plus an extremely large level of melanin.
Melanin is a natural antioxidant that gives chaga its external black color, but, more importantly, provides the highest level of antioxidants found in any food.
What do these ingredients do?
Beta-glucans are often found within medicinal mushrooms, and scientific research has shown that they normalize and balance the immune system.
Quite simply, they keep us healthy by regulating the body's immune system. Due to these immune-regulating properties, we can also say that the chaga mushroom contains both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Betulinic acid found in Chaga comes from the birch trees from which it grows and gives chaga additional health benefits. Most notably, it normalizes the body's cholesterol levels
Also, research has shown that betulinic acid is able to remove cancerous cells without negatively affecting healthy cells. However, how it does this is not yet fully understood. Therefore, more research is required before we fully understand the properties and benefits of betulinic acid.
When you combine the immune-regulating properties of polysaccharides with the effects of betulinic acid, you have yourself a potentially potent anti-cancer supplement.
Antioxidants and Phytosterols
Furthermore, the phytosterols present within Chaga were found to contain potent anti-cancer properties. So when you have all 3 of these components (betulinic acid, polysaccharides, and phytosterols), you can see why Chaga is one of the most valuable health supplements out there.
But there's more still, its antioxidant properties! The melanin found within chaga provides protection against the tough environment in which it grows. The components of melanin were found to have protective and DNA-regenerating properties. Melanin can be compared to a natural "anti-rust" layer.
A measure of antioxidants is the ORAC score (oxygen radical absorbance capacity). Chaga has one of the highest scores ever found and this is illustrated in Figure 1.
These antioxidants add anti-aging properties to the already impressive collection of Chaga's qualities.
Summary of Health Benefits:
*Please note that much more research is needed before we know the full extent of chaga extract as potential anti-cancer supplement. Please read this post by Dr. Kevin Curran to learn more.
Finding the right Chaga Extract Supplement
The Problem with many Chaga Supplements
Although Chaga is clearly beneficial to your health, you have to be very careful which chaga product you buy, as many on the market today are worthless.
Why? Because chaga is a raw mushroom. Raw mushrooms are mostly indigestible as we lack the enzyme chitinase which is required to digest the chitin cells that they are constructed of.
Unprocessed raw chaga simply passes through the human body without providing much nutritional value. You will find that most of the chaga extract supplements on the market today, are exactly that - unprocessed raw chaga.
Look for Genuine Chaga Extract Supplements
So for the human body to fully digest all the nutritional benefits of chaga, we must use an extraction process. There are two main extraction methods - Hot Water Extraction and Alcohol/Ethanol Extraction.
Hot Water Extraction Only
Extracts based solely on the hot water extraction method (similar to steeping tea) will contain only the water soluble compounds. I.e. polyphenolics and polysaccharides. They will NOT contain the phytosterols and betulinic acid (the non-water solubles).
Combine both Hot Water Extraction and Alcohol/Ethanol Extraction
To extract both the water soluble AND the non-water solubles, an extra step is required in the extraction process - the Alcohol/Ethanol Extraction method. When these two extraction methods are combined correctly, it will produce a Chaga Extract Supplement that contains all the above mentioned ingredients and thus the many benefits of Chaga.
What to look for in a quality Chaga Extract Supplement
So how can you tell the good from the bad? Simple, READ THE SUPPLEMENTS FACTS LABEL! If you only see vague statements on the label, you're most likely dealing with raw unprocessed chaga powder. Avoid these types of Chaga Extract Supplements. In contrast, if you see a detailed breakdown of ingredients, then this is a good sign of quality. However, to be certain of the quality, always request the Certificate of Analysis (COA), as only reputable manufacturers will provide this.
Sayan Chaga Extract
If you've read our other posts, most notably: "Chaga Supplements: What to look out for when buying" and "Where to Buy Chaga", you will know that at Chaga HQ, we're huge fans of Sayan's Extracts which are prepared to the highest quality by combining both hot water and alcohol extraction. This is why they can list the percentage of both betulinic acid and polysaccharides on their labels.
Buy Sayan Extracts on Amazon