What makes a good Chaga Supplement?
Are you looking for a great Chaga Supplement? If so, pay close attention to the bioactive ingredients included, and their bioavailability (the body’s ability to absorb the ingredient).
After much research over the years, we now know that the bioactive components of chaga include; beta-glucans (specific type of polysaccharides), polyphenols,phyto-sterols and triterpenes. For more on Chaga’s ingredients, check out our Chaga Antioxidants and Key Ingredients post.
Bioavailability is a very important factor that is sadly overlooked by many consumers. We need to ask ourselves this question when we're looking to buy a chaga supplement: “will the human body actually absorb the bioactive components of this supplement?”
Unless the chaga has been prepared using an extraction process, the bioactive components are indigestible for most people and you will experience little therapeutic effects. Many of chaga products on the market today have NOT gone through an extraction process, andtherefore the bioavailability of the bioactive ingredients is low at best when compared to a genuine extract ( roughly ± 1/30th to 1/50th of a genuine extract).
In a genuine dual extract from Sayan for example, all these bioactive components become bioavailable. In a simple extract made from hot water extraction alone, just the polyphenols and polysaccharides are bioavailable.
Buy Sayan Extracts on Amazon
Why the need for an Extract Supplement?
Bioavailability is limited in non-extracted chaga supplements because chaga cells are made of chitin, which is the same material that covers crabs and lobsters. Chitin is the hardest all-natural material known to man. Locked inside the chitincell-walls of chaga are the bioactive components which are considered verytherapeutic . The important word here is 'locked'.
As humans, we cannot digest chitin properly as the enzyme chitinase (needed to break down chitin), is not very active in our stomach acid.
Due to its simplicity and cost, the most common extraction technique is hot-water extraction (single step extract, e.g. chaga tea). With a hot water extraction, the hot water will 'melt' the chitin and help release the water-soluble bioactive components of chaga.
However, the highest yield of bioactive components is achieved using atwo step extraction process. The first step is combining high temperature with high pressure to release the water-soluble components. The second step is to use a hot ethanol extraction process to release the non-water solubles. By using thistwo step extraction process, most, if not all, the bioactive ingredients will become bioavailable. Extracts made this way are known as dual extracts.
What makes a good Chaga Supplement?
The only way to be sure about the quality of anextract, is to read the chaga supplement's facts label and ignore the website/brochure filled with marketing statements.
The supplement's facts label will tell you everything you need to know. Below are examples of supplement labels, one from a quality extract and one from a questionable one:
Supplement's Facts Labels - The Good and the Bad
In figure 1 below you will find a GOOD example of a supplement's facts label from a quality extract
And below you will find an example of a chaga supplement 'facts' label from a questionable extract. Notice that it provides very little information.
Only if the label gives you details like "40% polysaccharides" "10 mgergosterol" "2% betulinic acid" can you be 100% sure that you’re looking at a genuine dual extract. General statements like "contains a high level of beta-glucans", "over 200 phytonutrients", or "contains PSP/PSK" are only found on non-extracted products.
Remember that genuine dual extracts will always state the exact numbers because they can. By law, suppliers cannot list false numbers on their chagasupplement-facts label.
When determining product value, let's look at the following example: Vendor A offer’s 100 grams of chaga mushroom extract for $100. In comparison, another vendor offers 150 grams for only $50. When only looking at this information, you would think that vendor A's product costs three times as much. However, this thinking may well beincorrect, as the weight of the product shouldn't be the key factor. The key factor should be the bioactive components provided per dollar, as this is what provides the therapeutic power of the extract.
Product Value Example:
- Product A: Costs $10 and contains 60 capsules. Each capsule contains 500mg of chaga extract powder, with 10% being polysaccharides. This equals 50mg of polysaccharides per capsule (10% of 500mg = 50mg).
- Product B: Costs $20 and also contains 60 capsules. Each capsule contains 400mg of chaga extract powder with 30% being polysaccharides. This equals 120mg of polysaccharides per capsule (30% of 400mg = 120 mg).
From the example above, you can clearly see that Product B offersbest value to the consumer. It may cost 2 times as much, BUT you get 2.4 times the bioactive components.
In summary, the true value of a chaga supplement is determined by the amount of bioactive components you get for your money, not just by the weight or size of the supplement. To measure this, you should pay close attention to the supplement's facts label. A supplement without guaranteed levels of bioactives should be dismissed, because as a consumer, you have no idea what you are really buying.
Certificates of Analysis (COA)
To be certain about the quality of the product you're thinking of buying, requesting a COA (Certificate of Analysis) is the best option, especially when dealing with online sellers. However, few sellers will share the original COA (issued by the producer) with you. Excuses about proprietary information are a common way to avoid giving any verifiable details. This can often be considered a red flag, as just blocking the manufacturer's name on the COA would be enough to alleviate any such fears that the seller may have.
Lab Grown Chaga Supplements
Some of Chaga’s key bioactive components develop as a result of the fight between the fungus and its host. This is especially true when it comes to the polyphenols and phytosterols which provide the antioxidant properties. Myceliagown in thelab therefore has a very different chemical composition. Also, Betulinic acid is missing from mycelia grown in the lab, because in nature the fungus absorbs this from its host (the birch tree). As a result, only a wild-harvested, dual extracted, chaga supplement will provide the full spectrum ofbioactives.
Chaga Supplements: Summary
A chaga supplement should always beextracted, because only extracts can deliver noteworthy therapeutic effects. Furthermore, the only chaga supplements worth considering are extracts that guarantee at least one bioactive ingredient (usually polysaccharides) on their supplement's facts label. In general, the best extracts in terms of therapeutic potency, are dual extracts which guarantee several bioactive components on their chaga supplement facts label (e.g. polysaccharides + triterpenes).
If you plan on purchasing chaga, please click here to check out our Buying Guide.