LIVING LIVELY | By KATE ROBITELLO
Q: Tell me about the historical usage of chaga.
A: Historically, chaga use has been documented for around 500 years both by Siberian and Chinese cultures. Originally chaga was brewed as a coffee-like beverage and tonic. Siberian tribes discovered that its use somehow alleviated certain medical issues. Chaga was used to regulate digestion, to clear up skin conditions like psoriasis, and even as an anti-bacterial to wash the body.
In the early- to mid-20th century, Russian scientists observed the health conditions of certain tribes who drank the mushroom tea regularly. The results were seemingly miraculous, as the physical performances of these athletes became second to none.
Chaga’s present-day usage has become far more widespread than just a select few.
Cultures all over Europe and Asia use the mushroom regularly for a variety of ailments. Chaga is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune-system modulator, digestive regulator, and the list goes on. Chaga addresses serious conditions like cancer, HIV, debilitating arthritic issues and many serious skin disorders.
Q: What inspired you to begin crafting chaga products?
A: A few years ago I discovered chaga and became completely inspired by its incredible healing properties. When I realized the potential power of this mushroom I was seriously blown away. I have enjoyed foraging wild edible mushrooms for nearly a decade, but when I discovered how important medicinal mushrooms are, my whole outlook changed.
I am a classically French-trained chef, and worked in the food industry for 12 years.
At the age of 30 I developed epilepsy and realized that my life needed to change. I slowly made the transition out of the restaurant business and into a whole new niche. I learned that chaga was a super antioxidant and of its potential to shrink and even disintegrate tumors. From that point on I was hooked. It just so happens that the source of my seizures stems from several benign vascular tumors in my brain. I began hunting for the elusive fungi. I read books and researched everything I could find out about chaga. Today I consider myself to be very well-versed on the subject.
I have been using chaga for over a year and a half now and many of my ailments have diminished. Ah… relief! That’s how I feel, relieved and virtually pain-free. I still have seizures occasionally but my vascular tumors have not grown. I am truly hopeful that over time my conditions will continue to improve. In my pre-chaga existence my goal in life was to create and spread wealth. Today my motto is to create and spread health. I believe that money is temporary, love and compassion is forever.
Q: How can one incorporate chaga into their daily lives?
A: It is not difficult or very time-consuming to incorporate chaga into everyday life. Many products and several different methods are available to use the mushroom. Brewed tea, tinctures, capsules and even edibles like chocolates. Chaga is extremely hard and fibrous, however. If chaga is consumed in its raw state, then it passes through the digestive tract far too quickly to fully reap the medicinal benefits. The research I have done points to 2 methods being the best. Water extraction (tea) and alcohol extraction (tincture). I recommend 2-4 cups of tea daily, and/or 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. of tincture daily, depending on your own physical needs. That’s about all there is to it! The tea is fairly easy to make so I generally advise customers to brew at home. Tincture is much more time-consuming and can take 6-8 weeks for full nutrient extraction. Both products are excellent, however there is a distinct difference between the two. Brewing tea extracts more antioxidants while making tincture extracts much higher levels of anti-inflammatory and cancer preventive properties. For more information, you can find Chaga Moon products at Vermont farmers market.
Q: Your most popular recipes, please?
A: Orange Ginger Tea
2 TBSP ground chaga
1/2 gal spring water
2 oz. fresh ginger
2 cups quality orange juice
Honey (sweeten to desired taste)
Steep chaga grounds, sliced ginger and spring water for 12 hours in a crockpot or stainless-steel pot, making sure to keep your temp around 120 degrees. Definitely do not let the temp rise above 180 degrees! Let the tea cool and then strain through a colander or china cup lined with cotton fabric or cheesecloth. Mix in the orange juice and honey, then presto, your tea is ready to go. Enjoy chaga tea either hot or cold. The shelf life should be 7-10 days once the OJ is added.
Kate Robitello is a plant based nutrition expert based at Rutland’s Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center. She’s a proponent of clean eats, abundant health, and living vibrantly.