Chaga is a very slow growing medicinal mushroom. A single chaga conk can take well over 20 years to mature. While most other types of mushrooms only live for a couple of weeks exposed to the outside elements before dying away, chaga’s prolonged exposure to the sun has forced it’s biology to adapt.
Looking at the outer layer of chaga, you’ll notice it’s very black and crusty. This is a think layer of melanin, the same stuff our skin produces to protect us from the sun when we tan.
In addition to melanin, chaga also evolved to produce potent antioxidants. The sun’s radiation produces very reactive compounds known as free radicals which damage cells. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent DNA damage.
A study of the animals that live around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster revealed that many had evolved to produce potent antioxidants as protection against elevated radiation levels. (Galvan et al. 2014) Chaga, with it’s prolonged exposure to the sun, developed similar protective biology.
When we drink chaga tea, all it’s protective and rejuvenating benefits are conferred to us. People typically notice an increase in energy after drinking chaga tea for a couple of days. This is not an anxious energy like we experience from caffeine. Instead, this is a calm, metabolic energy that we reclaim from all the energy our bodies didn’t have to spend repairing free radical damage. This increase in metabolic energy is why chaga has a reputation as a ‘cure all’ or adaptagen. It’s rejuvenative powers stem from potent antioxidants which provide your body with the energy it needs to heal itself.