The Inner Ring: Chaga Mushrooms

By Robbie Alexander, Sensei, NSCA-CPT

What is possibly the most unattractive edible plant or fungus found in nature, could also be the most powerful source of nutrients you can add to your diet. In this article, we’re going to break down the benefits and some points for you to research and consider before welcoming the chaga mushroom into your healthy lifestyle.

Courtesy photo by Björn S on Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The chaga mushroom is commonly found on birch trees in very cold climates of northern Canada, Siberia, northern Europe and Alaska. It looks more like a growth that caught on fire on the side of the tree than a superfood.

There are an unbelievable amount of health benefits of the chaga mushroom. They include:

  • Chaga is a clean and gradual burning source of long lasting energy due to the presence of polysaccharides.
  • Triterpenes found in this mushroom have been found to improve vascular efficiency, oxygen delivery and immune system efficiency.
  • Enhanced workout recovery.
  • It’s a powerful antioxidant superfood.
  • It is both antiviral and antifungal
  • Chaga mushrooms’ adaptogenic qualities help regulate the hormones responsible for efficient fat use.

Unfortunately for some, there are possible but rare side effects to consuming this mushroom. Here are a few things to consider.

  • As with any food or medication you put into your system, always seek the advice of your physician before trying something new. This is important especially if you are currently experiencing negative health issues and are on medications.
  • Polysaccharides and minerals present in chaga can have a negative effect with someone using blood thinners, preparing to undergo or healing from surgery (within two weeks).
  • Research has shown that even though chaga has had positive effects on diabetes, the effects on insulin are not so good. Because chaga is known to regulate blood sugar, diabetics on certain medications can also be in danger of hypoglycemia.
  • For the moment, there is not enough data to understand how pregnant women as well as their unborn babies will respond to taking chaga as well as how it will affect the birthing process so definitely do your research and exercise wisdom in taking this supplement.

Chaga was introduced to me at my first Spartan Race and the results have always been awesome. I use it as a pre-workout secret weapon for my more challenging training sessions. Diné people drink it as a tea, but I prefer to add it to my coffee. I drink it when I have to train a large amount of back-to-back clients, or when I may have to push my limits during an athletic event. Your goals may be less performance based and may include adjusting your diet to attract more general health. Whatever your intentions, always approach a new diet and supplement change with thorough research along with seeking the wisdom of your doctor’s advice and input. Success to you. GET THOSE GOALS!

Remember, real health begins with inner wealth.

You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness or nutritional program to determine if it is right for your needs. This publication offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read in this article. The use of any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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