The Importance of Choosing Sustainably-Harvested Chaga Herbal Supplement*
If you live on the East Coast, where chaga grows most prolifically in North America, chances are you’ve come across a slew of products containing chaga. Chaga herbal supplement shows up in the form of tea, and is added to coffee, honey, maple syrup, tincture, and even skincare. Chaga is a special mushroom that has great reputation to support overall wellbeing.*
Chaga mushrooms’ popularity is increasing each day, which is unfortunately causing this rare fungus to be over harvested. While many functional mushrooms can be cultivated, there are some species, like Chaga, that are only available by wildcrafting. Additionally, Chaga’s slow and unusual reproduction add to the obstacles of ensuring sustainable sources of Chaga. Here at Mushroom Revival, we are committed to sustainably sourcing the Chaga we use in our products, like our Daily 10 Mushroom Mix.*
Sex Life of Chaga
The part of the fungus we use is in our Chaga herbal supplements is not technically a mushroom. It is not the ‘fruiting body’ of the fungus, but rather a sterile conk, which many mycologists refer to as a sclerotia or hardened mycelial mass. One to two years after its host tree has died, the fungus will produce tubular pores beneath the bark, where it will remain hidden until it's ready to sporulate. Finally, a fruiting body will force its way out of the bark of the tree, where the ephemeral, nutrient-dense mushroom is promptly consumed by beetles and other hungry organisms.
To make things more mysterious, the orientation of the fungus’ fruiting bodies matter:
“Chaga is aptly named Inonotus (to penetrate) obliquus (an angular shift in degrees) because of the fungus penetrating tree wounds to attack and feed upon the heartwood; and the angular tubes that contain its reproductive spores are slanted 20-30 degrees upward towards the sun. Mycologists believe this is to enable spore dispersal allowing wind currents to carry spores to infect nearby damaged trees. Interestingly, it is almost at par to the angular declination of the Earth relative to the Sun.” - Excerpt from Annanda Chaga, 2019. (1)
What we need to keep in mind is that the fungus will often not have a chance to get to this stage in its life cycle, if all the Chaga sclerotia is harvested. When wildcrafting Chaga, we are essentially taking the fungus’s own food storage—which it relies on to survive 2 or so years—and still have enough nutrients to break through the bark of a tree and produce mushrooms.
Consume Chaga Herbal Supplements Consciously
Now that we acknowledge the complexity of Chaga and its susceptibility to endangerment, let’s consider what we can do as conscious consumers.
1. Don’t Take More Than You Need. Chaga herbal supplements are wonderful, and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of its ability to support health.* With this in mind, consider backing off your Chaga intake unless you feel it’s something your body really needs.
2. Leave Some Chaga Behind. Should you go looking for Chaga in the forest and you find a good amount, make sure to leave at least 30% of the conk behind. The less you take, the better for the fungus. If it appears that a Chaga patch has already been picked from, consider leaving it alone entirely and seeking out other specimens.
3. Buy Your Chaga from Siberia. Yes, local and wildcrafted mushrooms are two shiny qualities we all look for in many of our food products, but there are cases where this is not the best option. Chaga is very abundant and responsibly harvested in Siberia, Russia. There are also anecdotes to Siberian Chaga being the most potent form on the market due to it's harsh climate.*
Chaga Herbal Supplement from Mushroom Revival
At Mushroom Revival, we take all these factors into account when we source mushrooms to make Chaga herbal supplements. The Chaga found in our Daily 10 blend are sustainably sourced from Siberia, and are so potent it does not take much to reap the benefits! Try our products today and feel good about the mindful sourcing and processing of this special superfood!*
Did you know that for every item Mushroom Revival sells, a tree is planted?
Learn more about our One Tree Program here.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.