Ok, not really. But quite literally it has, for over 7 centuries. So, if you’re not fluent in Latin or studying up on the healing benefits of fungi, you might better recognize, Inonotus obliquus as our amazing, powerful ingredient Chaga, or Chaga Mushroom.
You still might be wondering what Chaga is. Sure, our friends on the west coast have been talking to us about it for years, but they’re not the only ones who have been enjoying the benefits of Chaga for quite some time. The use of Chaga in hot beverages, medicines, as well as other life and body healing aids can be dated back to, well… the beginning of time. The first medicinal accounts can be linked to the Khanty people in the 13th century. Indigenous to Siberia, this tribe of healers were deeply connected to nature. They accepted with a level of clarity that anything that comes from nature is good for their body. I think they were on to something. The Khanty people believed and bowed to all nature had to offer, understanding that every root, plant, and fungi contained properties to remedy the sick, the broken-hearted, the frigid, and more.
But in North America, we are just now coming to recognize the power of Chaga in a more widely accepted way. Preferring the cold, nutrient-rich, dense forests of the north, Chaga has homes from Siberia, to Japan, to Northern Europe. I am fortunate that it also loves the woods of northern Maine, otherwise known as my backyard… literally. This is where I find and harvest Chaga with my own hands (and my husband’s help). Historically, harvesting the fungi was something of a sacred practice. Snow-shoeing into the forest, being mindful of the complex healing the mushroom provided, the Indigenous people would harvest and grind the Chaga. It was common practice in these early cultures to drink it as a hot beverage or use it as medicine. It was used to cure diseases such as lip tumors, as an anti-inflammatory for the digestive tract, as well as an antibacterial, antiseptic, and antioxidant. This powerful polypore was discovered and sought after to aid for almost any curative need and use. This is something that I often think of as my husband and I trek into the cold woods in search of our Chaga. It is still sacred.
Chaga is so complex that it is often rejected in our culture today despite all of its healing properties and capabilities. In fact, there have been scientists who have spent their entire lives studying these revitalizing fungi and are still unable to provide reason for its multi-performing and healing influence in and for the body.
From royals to indigenous people to my team and me, we all use Chaga. In our medicines, in our hot beverages, and now our skincare you can find this clean and effective ingredient.
I encourage you to stay tuned as we explore and share with you more about the wonderful, curative, Chaga Mushroom.