Oh, Chaga. Inonotus obliquus. What the hell is this stuff? It is a fungus which grows primarily on birch trees and allied trees in the birch family-some of my very favorite trees, of course. To call it a “mushroom” sounds absurd. It is a fungus, a fruiting body, and a firestarter.Chaga and birch seem to have a symbiotic relationship, swapping the mutual aid of healing with each other and whipping up a little batch of betulin!People decoct chaga for the usual amazing medicinal mushroom benefits like addressing cancer, supporting immunity and deep nourishment. It may, along with its home the birch tree, help address inflammation.
i hike through the birch and pine forests looking for standing dead or partially downed white birches to harvest chaga from. It is an odd and mysterious, dense, heavy chunk of space junk and can be quite difficult to pry off.i enjoy it as a decoction, perhaps with some roots and warming spices, infuse it into oils and make tinctures with it. i am working on a chaga-birch body butter right now and a warming chaga nutmeg massage oil.Chaga has an entry in the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s “cancer care” website. For more information on chaga check out Paul Stamets, Dr. Andrew Weil, Christopher Hobbes and Russia.