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Medicinal mushrooms produce medically important natural metabolites or can be induced to do so with biotechnology. There is a range of medical compounds that include antibiotics, cholesterol inhibitors, anti cancer drugs, psychotropic drugs, and a few fungicides. Though early discoveries focused on basic moulds which cause spoiling of food, later work would identify helpful compounds across many types of fungi. Naturalists have preached the benefits of medicinal mushrooms for decades. They know where to find the best fungi and understand the sound scientific benefits of the specific types of mushrooms they find.
Chaga is basically an outgrowth of Mycelium, that comes through the tree, on the side of the tree. These things generally grow in birch, sometimes on beech trees, and when they grow out they look almost like a big gnarly burnt thing, sort of encrusted on the side, almost like a white tuna or something. But it’s basically the Mycelium coming out through the tree, and then sprouting out through the bark, and then growing on the side of the tree. And these grow a lot in Canada, you can find them wild in New England a lot, in New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, you can find them there.
Probably you can find some kind of burls that might look like it, but really what you’re looking for if you find a black thing that looks like it might be a Chaga, when you chop it off, you can find this rusty color on the inside, and the burls is not going to look like that. It’s almost corky, it’s kind of like a corky quality to it.
You want to get as much surface area as possible. So you can even put it in like a plastic bag, or rap it into a newspaper or something, or use a plastic bag, and take a hammer to it and just pound with a mallet or something like that or a baseball bat or something, just until it breaks up into little pieces. And when this is harvested you need to dry it properly, like in a really low oven or dehydrator, because it can get a little mold run on it. So yes you want to get good surface area.
So what that basically means is that they’ll make a decoction or they’ll make a tea, perhaps they’ll combine them or they’ll use one or the other, and then they’ll pull the moisture out and they’ll be left with a powdered extraction. So that’s what you want. So I mean some people say taking the powdered mushroom is a good thing, I don’t think that. I think that it’s important to have an extraction first.
It grows all over Siberia and Scandinavia, it was used by the Siberian Shamans, and it was also mentioned in Alexander Solzhenitsyn book, Cancer Ward, for healing cancer. It has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal and anti-tumor compounds in it, and it doesn’t take much really, you can just take like a chunk, maybe like inch square, or cubic inch I guess you could say. You know maybe just like a tip here, a stick in there. That would make a good quart. You can even cook it again. One thing that some friends of mine did was that they got their Chaga and… they just throw it in their tea kettle and leave it there for like 3 weeks, and every time they make their coffee in the morning or make their tea, that is getting cooked out a little bit more.
It’s really good for inflammatory conditions, and that a lot of people just stick the Chaga in their pot on their stove and just let it keep cooking for long periods of time, I’ve heard that as well. It’s fun to do.
I started eating Shitake Mushrooms decades ago. I don’t know why, I just had this thing, it tasted so good, I just sautéed it and cooked in oil, butter with a little bit of onion or nothing, and just cook them and put them in stews, put them in soups. I’ve just had them for lunch, I put them in a sandwich, I eat them on a salad, I don’t know, I’m just crazy about these mushrooms, and I think that’s why when I started coming across this information about medicinal mushrooms, *ding* this light went off and it was like, “yeah you know about this because you’ve been taking them for so long”.
And I was saying that they have this Chitin which is inadjustable, but if you cook them, these soft mushrooms, these soft flesh mushrooms like maitakes another one, you know there’s a number of these soft mushrooms that are kind of rare, they’re a little expensive but you can find them. If you cook them, this will break down the Chitin to the point where your body can extract the goodies of out them. So these are like my totem, my totem mushroom, even though I don’t harvest them and they are cultivated, and you know they’re probably not grown on wood, although you can find them and they’re very expensive, but still I’ve gotten benefit out of them, I rarely get sick, I’m a pretty healthy person, I know a lot of people my age who are on pharmaceuticals, and you know chronic all kinds of difficulties and I’m good. I’m not saying it’s all because of that, I probably have good genes, I try to take care of myself, but I definitely do think these have made a big difference in my health for the long term.
I break the stems off, in fact sometimes I will save the stems in a bag and stick them in the freezer, and if I’m going to make stock for soup I’ll throw them in there, I don’t know if there’s goodies in them or not but I don’t know. I think it’s a good way not to waste them anyway. But no, the stems are kind of gnarly and they don’t really eat very well, cook up very well.
These things have a lot of amino acids in them, and they have a number of trace minerals including selenium, and they have a beta-glucan which again is a polysaccharide called Lentinin, that has been shown to slow or stop tumor growth in scientific studies that they’ve done. They also have vitamin D too, interesting quality seeing as we don’t get a lot of sun here in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s a good thing to eat your mushrooms.