I had arrived at a deeper look at Chaga. Health benefits are off the charts. It is a natural nourisher, a mushroom that grows on Birch trees. Studies have shown it to be an antioxident, immunostimulant, anti-inflamatory and have analgesic qualities. It is being studied for numerous other benefits. There is a warning however to not mix it with diabetes, antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs. As with everything, consult your doctor about these interactions that may occur.
It is packed with vitamins and minerals and considered a nutrient dense "super food". I discovered a company called "Black Magic Alchemy" and love love love their Wild Chaga Root Beer. I drink a shot glass full every day to every few days. Yum!
The reason I felt to write about all of this is instigating inquiry/investigating where our herbs come from. I had just really become acquainted with Chaga two years ago on a more exploratory level. Since I love to forage edible mushrooms plus my herbalist/horticulturist vibe, Chaga was in my knowing, and I also knew it mostly grows in northern states. I was preparing for a trip to the wilderness of Maine. I had Chaga foraging on my radar in a big way. There are Birch trees everywhere around our camp and surrounding woods. I did all the reading about look-a-likes (no google in the deep woods!) and had a little hatchet with me for harvest.
I harvested blueberries, raspberries, golden chanterelles, and incredibly fragrant wild rose petals. I didn't see any Chaga. I was somewhat disappointed as it has become a focus for me to grow/harvest as much as I can myself for my teas and elixirs. Or, to know where they came from and what channels the herbs traveled through. I had read some time ago an article by Alberto Villoldo pointing out the energy of an herb being stronger and stronger the closer it came to the spot where you lived and it grew. A relationship of energetic response. That has really rooted inside me as a guide. (See my last blog post about Palo Santo.)
When we buy things on the internet/Amazon, we often don't know the details of harvest/origin/sacredness. I find it worth the effort to surf a little and find alignments.
So I left our camp, without Chaga. As luck would have it, about 4 hours into the drive home, while still in Maine, a crude hand written sign leaned against a mailbox, in a tiny little town: CHAGA for sale. I think I squealed as I told my husband to stop the truck!! He turned around and we pulled in the gravel driveway. I knocked on the door and was invited in to purchase the Chaga packed in ziplock bags.
He excitedly told me about his harvest practices and how he harvests in a way that doesn't kill the trees. He told me since Chaga was getting to be a "thing" the commercial sellers were chain sawing the trees down because they were too lazy/didn't care about how they harvested. He showed me his hand grinder because the mushroom is so hard it has burned the motor out of countless electric grinders. He showed me his screens where he put the freshly ground Chaga to dry out properly, while telling me the commercial growers pack it too quickly which is why you see white mold in the bags. His name is Tad, and I gratefully and joyfully received his story of harvest and ethics, and his obvious love of nature's medicine.
Find Tad's Chaga in several of my teas, "Nourish Me", "Chocolate Mushroom Chai" and also in "Deep Forest" elixir. I also add it to my Elderberry syrup (only available locally for pick up).
Do you know where your nourishment is coming from? I love so much that I can say yes to so many of the ingredients of Wildly Crafted Woman.
xoxo Erica Jo