Category Archives: Cleansing & Detoxification

Herbal Bitters & Digestives: Herbal Medicine Making for Digestion

Herbal Bitters and Digestives: Herbal Medicine Making for Digestion

Date: Thursday, November 9, 2017   Time: 7 pm – 9 pm

Cost: $ 50 plus GST

Join Medical Herbalist, Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) for a morning of herbal medicine making.
Discuss the importance of carminative herbs for optimal digestion.
Sample a digestive tea.
We will cover how bitters work and why they are important for whole body and digestive health.
Learn how to create your own Herbal Bitter Blendand take home 50 grams of Digestive Tea for future use.

Registrants can purchase a copy of Katolen’s book “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies”
Pre registration and prepayment to reserve your space
Location: Downtown Vancouver BC
More information provided upon registration.
To register contact: info@alchemyelixir.com ph: 604 683 2298

 

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook 2 Ed.

Just in Time for Christmas, the second edition of the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook! The  first edition is a kitchen bible for many and continuing  in that tradition with the new, revised Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook!  With 100 well-tested new recipes, color photographs and fascinating health information so you can have the most delicious, soul-satisfying meals and be able to make the most informed decisions about what to eat and why!Whole_Life_Nutrition_Cookbook2

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook will guide you through the process of stocking whole foods, from the healthiest meats and seafood to the best types of fats and oils, and even the healthiest forms of chocolate! You’ll learn detailed information on the benefits of each whole food group—Greens, Vegetables, Fruits, Whole Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds, Meats & Seafood, Dairy Foods, Sea Vegetables, and Fats. There are over 450 pages of recipes and information!

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook includes:

  • Evidence-based information on whole foods
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free recipes
  • A complete guide to stocking your whole foods pantry
  • The whole story on the current diet trends and how to adapt them to best serve your individual needs
  • The real story behind toxicity in food and avoiding PCB’s, GMO’s, and non-organics
  • Over 300 recipes that any vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, or omnivore will love

Available NOW – click here to order!

Digestive Aids: Back to the Basics with Herbal Medicine

By Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist
      Herbal medicine offers invaluable aid for chronic digestive disorders as well as common symptoms of  overeating including heart burn, indigestion, cramping and bloating. As most herbal medicines are taken orally, they come into direct contact with the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, offering quick relief. Herbal medicines offer gentle, non-habit forming alternatives to over-the-counter and prescription medications and are suitable for long term aid. The medical actions of herbs are often categorized into groups according to their therapeutic action.
      Digestive stimulants help to increase or improve digestive activities. Two categories of stimulant herbs include bitters and hepatics (herbs which support the liver). Bitters have been used traditionally, sipped before meals. Herbal bitters act to stimulate the release of gastric juice and digestive enzymes for optimal digestion. They also help to increase appetite. Bitters have a general tonic action on digestion, stimulating the body’s self repair mechanisms. Some bitter herbs include wormwood, centaury, yarrow and gentian. Bitter herbs are consumed in small amounts and should not be ingested in conditions of excess stomach acid or ulcers. Hepatics are herbs that strengthen tone and support the liver. The liver is our primary organ for cleansing and detoxification, facilitating the deactivation of hormones, drugs, food additives and pollutants. The liver is involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism and helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It is also involved in both the synthesis of cholesterol and its breakdown into bile salts. In addition, the liver provided storage for fat soluble vitamins. Examples of Hepatic herbs include: dandelion root, wild yam root, yellow dock root.
      Digestive Relaxants, in contrast, help to reduce over-activity and relax tissues. These herbs are used in a clinic environment to reduce bloating and stomach distension. Carminative herbs are plants that contain volatile oils, the component of the plant that imparts the familiar fragrant/aromatic scent associated with many dried herbs. Their main action in digestion is to soothe and settle the gut wall, ease cramping and expel wind from the stomach and intestines, while providing gentle anti spasmodic properties. Some common carminative herbs containing a characteristic scent include caraway seedfennel seed, peppermint leaf, ginger root and anise seed.
      Herbal medicines are gentle and ideal for incorporating into one’s daily routine. Digestive herbs can be used in either tea or tincture form. An adult general dosage for herbal teas is 1 tsp. of the herb for every cup of boiled water, steeped for 15 minutes; 3-4 cups daily will provide a medicinal dose. When using tinctures, the dosage varies depending upon the herbs used. A standard adult dose is generally 2-3 ml taken 2-3 times daily.
Katolen Yardley, MNIMH is a Medical Herbalist in private practice at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver, BC. www.alchemyelixir.com or www.katolenyardley.com 

Lifestyle Tips for Boosting Whole Body Health

With the New Year right around the corner- jump start your health goals by incorporating new lifestyle tips and routines into your new year!!

1. Incorporate tonic herbs into your daily routine (including Maca, Siberian Ginseng, Astragalus, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha), to build the bodies endurance and stamina, offering resistance from stressful conditions and support for immune system function.

2. Consider Medicinal Mushrooms: rebuild and restore immunity with mushrooms such as Shitake, Maitake, Oyster, Reishi, Enokitake mushrooms; add into cooking recipes and take in supplement form for stronger immune modulating, anti inflammatory actions, to enhance liver function and raise energy levels. Chaga is another unique mushroom which offers specific support to the digestive system, including ulcers, and symptoms of irritable bowel disease.

3. Boost your bodies’ detoxification ability by drinking herbal infusions (teas) such as Nettles, Burdock, Dandelion root or Cleavers. These herbs are traditionally referred to as alteratives which support the function of the organs of cleansing and elimination.

4. Xenoestrogens: Read labels -identify potential endocrine disruptors –and reduce exposure— familiar yourself with the names of low level hormone disruptors or estrogen mimickers -hidden ingredients in our cosmetics, plastics, pharmaceuticals, food, and personal care products. Xenoestrogens, are a group of chemicals present in the environment and in products we use every day, which mimic the effects of estrogen and disrupt normal hormone function. Combined with the estrogen naturally produced by the body, these foreign chemicals can create an excess of estrogen (and contribute to issues with fertility and reproductive health) and chemical sensitivity — many are also known carcinogens. Items to avoid include: phthalates, parabens, plastics (BPA, PETA), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and butylates hydroxyanisole (BHA). To assist in ridding these agents from the body consider Crucera SGS, Indole 3 Carbinol and Calcium d glucarate.

5. Remove chemical toxins from your home by choosing biodegradable cleaning products or better yet, create your own home cleaning products by using vinegar, baking soda and pure essential oils.

6. Daily ‘skin brushing’ using a dry vegetable bristle brush, will improve circulation and stimulate drainage from the lymphatic system.

7. Choose Organic – to remove chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers (which are also xenoestrogens!), focus on foods in whole form not from a package (boxed or canned) and read labels -if there a list of long chemicals in the ingredients then avoid these foods.

8. Cultivate gratitude: give thanks for what is good in your life – focus and appreciate on that which contributes to ones peace of mind and happiness including community (family and friends), sunshine, an abundance of accessible healthy food, and our right to a variety of educated health care choices.

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ a Medical Herbalist in private practice in British Columbia – is now accepting new clients. www.katolenyardley.com

 

Sage Wands

Organic Sage Wands

Sage bundles, Smudge fans, or prayer fans, have been used by first nations people for centuries.  The art of smudging involves burning herbs such as sage and sweet grass, or used together, first beginning with sage.  The smoke is directed or “washed” over people and things that need blessings and healings.  The smoke is believed to dispel negative influences. Smudging can be used to cleanse a room of tension and bad spirits after a verbal dispute or if someone with depression or anger had pervaded the place with gloominess.  Another common use is to cleanse a dwelling before you move in to a new space. Take the smudge fan and disperse the smoke in all corners to purify your new home, office, garage or yard, furniture, special objects and pets.

 Smudge bundles are dried and burned; used in the beginning of prayers, rituals, smudging and other ceremonies to remove perceived negative energies, to promote spiritual and emotional purification, to purify a space, and align in harmony with the earth and with ones higher self. Often used in combination with sweetgrass; sage smudge sticks can help turn a negative atmosphere in to a positive environment.

Directions: Sage bundles are usually burned by lighting the end of the bundle, let it burn for about 10 seconds, then blow the flame out. Hold a large clamshell, or bowl under the grass to catch the embers.  The bundle should smolder and give off smoke. It is this smoke which is used for purification and spiritual and emotional cleansing and the removal of negativity from a sacred space, a person, home, or new environment.

Once the sage is lit, you do not stop it from burning. If the smudging has been completed, then set the bowl down and let it burn itself out until it is done. Do not put it under water to douse the smoke or stop it from burning its flame out naturally.For obvious reasons, do not leave the flame unattended.

Repeat as needed, cleanse ones home or environment monthly, or after any negative or traumatic emotional experiences.

White Sage Bundles – are sold individually as one bundle. Order here:

Health Risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

 

GMO Health Risks: Dr Thierry Vrain

GMO Health Risks: Dr Thierry Vrain

Dr. Thierry Vrain, formerly Head of Biotechnology at Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research Station, was once a supporter of GMO. He has in the last 10 years changed his position after paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food and is now sharing his concerns. Help keep Genetically E Free nanaimo and a GE Free BC.

Watch this informative You Tube video for more information here: GMO’s Explained: Dr. Thierry Vrain “The Gene Revolution Best viewed in full screen mode: Filmed at an open public forum in Surrey BC on the topic of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).

This report was presented to the City Council of Nanaimo, BC Monday Sept 25, 2013 – reprinted with permission from Thierry Vrain – read on…

“Members of this Council,

I came to thank you for taking the time to educate yourself about this issue before the vote at UBCM on a resolution to create a GE Free BC.

My name is Dr. Vrain,  some of you, I think, were given a link to a TED Talk I gave three months ago.  I was a soil biologist and a genetic engineer with the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada for 30 years.   I was the head of the Department of Biotechnology until I retired in 2012 after the completion of the Human Genome Project.   I will come back to that.

I am trying to impress you that unlike most people I can spell DNA and even recombinant DNA.  I was the spokesperson of my Institute in Summerland during those years and took it on as my responsibility to educate the public.  I spoke publicly about the hopes of the engineered technology, and how precise and safe it all is.   I retired in 2012 because the Human Genome Project was completed.  And the answer was very clear.  That genetic engineering technology was not at all the precise technology it claimed.  The transgenes are inserted at random in the genome of the plants.  Complete random.   What we learned from the Human Genome Project is that the genome is a complex ecosystem, absolutely not based on the one gene one protein hypothesis which is the premise of the genetic engineering technology.

Sorry to use all these big words.  Stay with me.  This is a good story.

The genetic engineering technology I was working with was based on a wrong assumption that we would produce one protein per event.  The new paradigm said that we were inserting  foreign constructs in the middle of an ultra sensitive ecosystem of genes.  It’s like introducing a new pest in a sensitive ecosystem.   Not good.  Some of the misshaped proteins resulting from the genetic insertions may turn out harmful.  That would mean that the old paradigm of safety and naïve simplicity was not valid and the rogue proteins created potentially dangerous.   I could not justify what I did anymore, and I could not in good faith reassure the public that the technology was innocuous.    During my time in Research,  I studied many scientific publications sponsored by the biotech Industry and I came to the conclusion that the engineered crops and foods are totally safe to eat, provide greater yields and make the farmers rich, require less pesticides and cannot possibly have any effect on our environment.

But in the last 10 to 15 years there is also a large body of scientific publications, peer reviewed, many in prestigious Journals, that tell exactly the opposite.   The appearance of super weeds and superbugs did not surprise anybody in the science world.  They were fully expected.  Even by the chemical industries that have prepared just in time the next generation of herbicide tolerance.  With 2-4 D.  That’s agent orange during the Vietnam war.  Less the dioxin of course.  I mean, I assume we are not going to spray any dioxin residues in our countryside like we did in Vietnam.

Wouldn’t this transition to a new chemical system of farming be a perfect time for growers to come out of their feudal position with the seed and chemical input Industries.

This body of science makes it clear that the yields in Europe are higher than in America – yields per acre of course.  They do not refuse the technology because of superweeds or superbugs or falling prey – economically speaking, to the Industry.   They refuse it mostly on the grounds of this body of research with mice and rats and pigs and other animals.  And the story is about some toxic principles from engineered food that damage organs: liver, uterus, kidneys, brain, or some other proteins that cause allergies – particularly from the mis-shaped Bt proteins.  And yes.  There is definitely a hug increase in cancer and other related hormonal imbalances

The scientists of the Food and Drug administration in the USA knew that already in 1996 when the first engineered crops were released commercially without being tested.   The administration went over the verdict of its own experts.  They predicted that engineered crops and engineered foods would contain rogue proteins – inevitably produced by the invasive technology.  They predicted that some of these proteins would be toxic, cause allergies and organ damage, nutritional problems, and other illnesses.

Mr Wager who will speak after me is going to tell you that we must have this technology to feed a hungry planet.  This is complete fallacy.  It is well documented that this technology does not increase yields.  The herbicide tolerance technology – RoundUp Ready crops, have been shown to yield less than their non engineered counterparts.  In Europe, corn yields have been significantly superior to North America in the last 10 years.  They do not use this technology in Europe.

Mr Wager is going to tell you that this technology decreases the need for pesticides.  An unexpected goal for a chemical company – turned life company now.  Yes they have patented life.   The seeds are patented.  They are not sold.  They are leased.   You cannot keep them or multiply them.  It does not matter too much that you can’t keep your seeds if you are using hybrids.   So no change for corn growers.  But for everybody else, that’s a voluntary step into economic dependence.  You get your seeds every year from the life company, and you have to be nice about it.    You cannot do any research on the technology unless you swear to agree that what is good for Monsanto prevails.

They have been successful at marketing their product because it makes weed management and life less complicated for the farmer.  But I doubt that it was always the intention of these companies to sell less and less of their products.  Of course not, sales of insecticides and herbicides have gone through the roof in the last 10 years.  Particularly more recently with the epidemics of resistant weeds and resistant insect pests.

Mr Wager is going to tell you that nobody has died from eating GMOs and that 3 billion meals, or is it 3 trillions, have been served.  And everybody is in perfect health.  The truth is that research studies from Europe in the last 10 years have documented organ damage in rats and pigs, and cellular damage in human cells.  And there is no denying that we are experiencing epidemic levels of allergies, gastrointestinal problems, kidney damage, or breast cancer.  The European research says that toxic proteins in engineered foods are responsible for these symptoms in mice and rats.

The European studies also say that RoundUp herbicide is used on such a massive scale that is is now everywhere, in the air, in the water, in the food.   RoundUp kills plants because it stops plant enzyme proteins from doing their metabolic work.  People cannot be affected because we do not have the same biochemical pathways that the plants have.  But we are now discovering that bacteria are affected as much as plants.  And the bacteria in our guts are affected.  In case you do not know that, you are not human at all.  You are a symbiotic organism.  Your body contains roughly 10% of human cells.  The rest are bacterial cells.   99% of your DNA is bacterial.  That is how important our gut flora is to our health. A phenomenal ecosystem of thousands of species of bacteria that synthesize vitamins and many other essential molecules, hormones, etc … Gut bacteria make 95% of the serotonin and other neurotransmitters for our brain.  Would you prefer a happy flora down there ?  Rather than a sad one.  High or even very low residues of RoundUp in our food is a stress to our health.  And no, you can’t tell from looking around you.  It apparently takes many many years of this low level biochemical stress to cause leaky gut syndrome, or organ damage, or cancer.  Meanwhile everybody in North America is ingesting its weight of GMO ingredients every year.

Mr Wager will tell you that there is a conspiracy of rogue scientists determined to spread lies about the safety of this technology.   But he will be at a loss to explain the motivation of these scientists.

If I cite the research work of these scientists Mr Wager will tell you that it is all pseudo science and that it has been thoroughly trashed by the scientific community.   So you need to understand that there is a great deal of research in Biotech, mostly funded by the biotech Industry.   University Industry grants are normal.  Putting hundreds of scientists on the payroll is not difficult.   Or give them a patent or two for their research work.

Do you remember the tobacco ads of 40 years ago.  More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarettes.  20,000 physicians say Luckies are less irritating.   Why do you think doctors can be bribed but not scientists ?   There are experts on hire – everywhere.

I appreciate that this is seen as a controversy.  So I will conclude with this statement.  As long as there is a controversy – of the kind that the Tobacco Industry created 40 years ago to stay in business for many years after the scientific evidence was in, there can be no recall or regulatory action taken. There is no controversy in 64 countries of the world, including the big ones – Europe, India, Russia, and China, where GMOs are banned or at least labelled.”

We are giving you bits and pieces of a booklet called GMO Myths and Truths.  It is a compilation of published research, much of it from Europe and the rest of the world.  It was compiled by a genetic engineer and edited and re-written by Claire Robinson an excellent science writer.  It is a bit dry and technical.  But if you can spell DNA take a look at it.  Free download at  earthopensource.org

Sign a petition for CBC news requesting that Peter Mansbridge interviews Dr Thierry Vrain on the National regarding the risks of GMO products and the future of Canadian Agriculture.

For more information on GMO dangers

Institute for Responsible Technology: 65 Health Risks of GMO Foods and GMO’s in Food and 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO’s

A partial listing of foods containing GMO products can be found by clicking here:http://thegoldenlightchannel.com/gmo-food-list-to-avoid-monsanto-companies-the-dangers-of-gmo-food/

Health Guide on GMO Research and Risks http://www.greenmedinfo.com/guide/health-guide-gmo-research

For more reading on a holistic approach to food systems visit BC Food Systems Network on Facebook

Kudzu Root (Puerario montana)

Kudzu Root

Kudzu Root

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist

The Kudzu (or Kuzu) plant is a climbing, woody vine which belongs to the pea family (or the legume family). For more than 2000 years in Chinese medicine, the chopped kudzu root has been used as herbal medicine for the treatment of headaches, diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal obstruction, stomach flu, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; it is used as a digestive aid, fever reducer, and is thought to inhibit alcohol cravings and lower blood sugar.

In traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as gat-gun, ge gan, kudzu root is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. TCM uses kudzu in treating the symptoms of high blood pressure such as headache and dizziness (although kudzu has little or no effect on blood pressure itself). It has been used traditionally for tinnitus, vertigo and Wei syndrome (superficial heat close to the surface). It has shown value for helping migraines and cluster headaches and can increase circulation, an action that tends to reduce muscle pain and stiffness, and increases blood flow through the coronary arteries.

Studies have shown that Kudzu can reduce alcohol cravings. For problem drinking: In clinical studies, Kudzu has shown some promising results in reducing the desire for alcohol and decrease the amount of alcohol consumed. A person who takes Kudzu, will still drink alcohol, but will consume less than if they had not taken Kudzu. The mechanism for this is not yet established, but it may have to do with both alcohol metabolism and the reward circuits in the brain. The Harvard Medical School is studying Kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings. While Kudzu Root seems to lessen the desire for alcohol, it also stimulates regeneration of liver tissue while protecting against liver toxins.

Kudzu is also taken internally on a regular basis to prevent recurrences of colds sores, shingles, and herpes. The root is prepared as a decoction/ boiled tea for reducing an elevated fever, muscle aches, and symptoms of a cold or flu and can sooth inflamed mucous membranes of the throat and bronchial passages.

Animal and cellular studies have provided support for the traditional uses of kudzu root on cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and endocrine systems, including angina pectoris, blood sugar balancing effects for diabetes and their long term complications.

Medicinal Food The nutritive starchy root of kudzu is high in complex carbohydrates, helps balance the acidic nature of many foods, and is soothing and cooling the digestive tract. Powdered kudzu root is very “starchy” -similar to arrowroot powder, and is used to thicken sauces, especially in Asian cooking. Simply mix the powder of kudzu in a little cold liquid to dissolve and use as a substitute for cornstarch or arrowroot.

Traditional therapeutic actions: Antispasmodic, anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, antiviral, diaphoretic, muscle relaxant, cold and flu treatment, vasodilator, antihypertensive, antioxidant, liver protective, circulatory support, raynauds. Used to counteract abuse of drug and alcohol; helping to reduce alcohol cravings.

Nutrients: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B2.

Kudzu root is a very safe herb, with no known drug interactions and is most effective when used in its natural state, as prepared as a decocted tea. The recommended dose of Kudzu root tea ranges from 9 to 15 g daily. To order chopped Kudzu Root click here:

Organic Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is one of the most sacred plants of the First Nations people. It is usually braided, dried and burned; and used in the beginning of prayers, rituals, smudging and other ceremonies to attract positive energy, purify a space, bring in good influence, and align in harmony with the earth and with ones higher self.

Three stranded braids of the sweetgrass represent mind, body and spirit. In essence, Sweetgrass is a melding or braiding of these qualities together. Sweetgrass is often referred too as “the hair of Gaia, our Mother Earth”.

The purifying smoke cleanses an area, brings in positive thoughts and healthy and higher vibrational energies. Sweetgrass is known to be carried in medicine and pipe bundles to protect sacred objects.

Just as the sweet scent of this natural grass is pleasing, smelling a bit like warm vanilla; this sacred ceremonial herb is sometimes called Seneca Grass, Holy Grass, and Vanilla Grass.

When used in combination with sage smudge sticks; sweetgrass can help turn a negative atmosphere in to a positive environment.

Directions: Sweetgrass is usually burned by shaving little bits over hot coals or by lighting the end of the braided dried grass, let it burn for about 10 seconds, then blow the flame out. Hold a large clamshell, or bowl under the grass to catch the embers.  The grass should smolder and give off smoke. It is this smoke which is used for cleansing and purifying a sacred space, a person, home, or new environment.

Begin smudging in the north corner of a space and pass the smudge stick over the top and bottom of the corner. Pass it around any doors or windows, under chairs and furniture frequently used. Moving clockwise, continue smudging an entire space and repeat the action until completed

One may visualize light filling a space, or one may repeat words in prayer as smudging, such as “light and contentment fill this space”; visualized positive energies filling the environment. Then lay the sweetgrass in the bowl and allow it to burn out on its own.

Repeat as needed, cleanse ones home or environment monthly, or after any negative or traumatic emotional experiences.

Sweetgrass braid -sold individually as one braid for $ 9.99- to order click here.

Chaga Mushroom or Fungus also known as “King of the Herbs”

written by Katolen Yardley, Medical Herbalist

  • Latin Name: Inonotus obliquus however it may be found under the Latin names: Polyporus obliquus and Poria obliqua
  • Family: Hymenochaetaceae
  • Phylum: Basidiomycota (known as a true mushroom).

Habitat

Chaga is a slow growing fungus which grows on birch trees (and is also on alder and beech trees). Geographically, Chaga is restricted to cold habitats, found growing in Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, northern areas of the United States, and in Canada.

Why are mushrooms considered to be a fungus?

Mushrooms are considered a fungus, or a member of the fungi kingdom, as they do not contain chlorophyll, yet they have a strong symbiotic relationship with other plants and organisms – growing on decomposing leaves, logs, trees and soil in a forest setting; fungi are essential to our food chain. Fungus have the ability to break down organic matter in a decaying forest and actually draw its food and nutrients directly from decaying trees, rather than from the soil itself. Fungi digest their food outside their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment, breaking down organic matter into a form the fungus can use.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies produced by some fungi and the term “mushroom” applies to those fungi that have a stem, a cap, and gills or pores on the underside of the cap.All fungus begins with a spore which germinates, when the spore grows strands, this is called the mycelium. The fruiting body or the visible top of the mushroom, and the mycelium (the feeding body) make up the mushroom which can appear to grow overnight, in the cases of some species, or take longer time for development in other species.

In the case of Chaga, its sterile conk – a perennial woody growth, which is the mycelium of the mushroom – has the appearance of a black, irregular, cracked mass resembling burnt charcoal that grows on tree trunks. Due to the large amounts of melanin present in the chaga mushroom, the fruiting body rarely is seen. Unlike most mushrooms, chaga is a polypore, a fungus with pores instead of gills. Rather than growing in soil, Chaga prefers birch trees, once a tree is dead, the “sterile conk trunk rot of birch”, referring to chagas fruiting bodies grows under the outer layers of wood surrounding the sterile conk, spreading its mushroom spores for regrowth.

Common Names

Chaga is also known as siberian chaga, clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass, birch canker polypore, sterile conk trunk rot of birch and birch mushroom. In the arctic, the first nation’s people used chaga as a form medicine and called it Tiaga or Tsa Ahga. In France, it is called the carie blanche spongieuse de bouleau (spongy white birch tree rot), the Dutch name is berkenweerschijnzwam (birch mushroom glow) and in Germany it is known as Schiefer Schillerporling (slate inonotus). However in the Orient, Chaga is known as “King of the Herbs” a name which most alludes to its respected and powerful healing properties.

History of this Medicinal Plant

A healing plant of renowned value throughout the world, Chaga is thought to be one of the strongest immune stimulating medicinal mushrooms and is used today as the base natural product in over forty oncology pharmaceutical medications and compounds. Since the early 16 th century, Chaga has been documented for its medicinal actions. Traditionally Chaga was used as a common remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers and other toxic diseases; especially for tumors of the stomach, esophagus, lungs, genital organs and/ or breast.

Chemical Constituents

  • Beta-D-glucans, a type of polysaccharide which has strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties, reputed to assist in stimulating the body to produce natural killer (NK) cells to battle infections, tumor growth and stimulate apoptosis (programmed cell death). The 3-beta-D-glucans found in medicinal mushrooms have been subject of research since the 1960s.
  • Phenolic compounds, melanins
  • Lanostane-type triterpenoids, including betulin and betulinic acid. (The anti-cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid are currently being studied for use as chemotherapeutic agents and are already used as anti-HIV agents in mainstream medicine). Important note: betulinic acid appears to be absent in cultivated chaga, with nature herself producing higher medicinal quality chaga.
  • Bitter triterpene compounds that support the thymus and spleen,
  • Germanium: one of the highest sources found in nature.

Reputed Health Benefits

Studies support the use of Chaga for immune enhancement, possible cholesterol lowering, anti-obesity properties and improved insulin resistance, digestive tonic, anti ulcer, general tonic, psoriasis, diabetes, hypertension, anticancer potential, an anti viral, anti tumor, immune response modifier, (may assist in the modulation of T-Cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and white blood cells), anti-inflammatory properties, hypoglycemic activities and antioxidant properties offering protection against oxidative damage to cellular DNA.

Medicinal Actions

Much research has been conducted in Russia on this remarkable adaptogen fungus and more recently, health advocate David Wolfe can be found on”You Tube” educating his listeners on Chaga mushroom as a super food used daily for overall health enhancement. Chaga may help to:

  • Support and enhance immune function and help improve resistance to dis-ease. Chaga also contains the full spectrum of immune-stimulating phytochemicals found in other medicinal mushrooms.
  • Adaptogen properties: help the body to respond and resist internal and external stressors
  • Reduce fatigue, improve vitality, endurance and stamina
  • Regulate digestion: a useful anti-inflammatory agent of benefit for gastritis, ulcers and general pain.
  • Improve mental clarity
  • Improve physical performance
  • Antioxidant and anti-aging effect
  • Regulate the function of muscles and nerves
  • Improve resistance to disease
  • Enhance sleep quality
  • Improve metabolism
  • Regulate the activity of cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • Reduce pain
  • Promote healthy skin and hair
  • Contains antioxidant properties
  • A restorative tonic and blood cleansing agent
  • Contains anti viral, anti fungal and anti tumor properties.

Interesting Tidbit: Siberian Chaga is neither a plant nor animal yet its DNA make up is thirty percent closer to humans than plants.

Nature vs. nurture

Chaga is best used medicinally when harvested through wild crafting, as the mushroom holds the highest medicinal value and chemical constituents when wild crafted; the cultivated species are lower (or absent) in both medicinal properties and betulinic acid. Chaga can be purchased here in dried form and prepared as a tea. To purchase Chaga Mushroom:

Other Medicinal Mushrooms

One important clarification, medicinal mushrooms do NOT include the common white, brown mushroom or button mushroom – those common edible mushrooms found in supermarkets. White or button mushrooms have little flavor and no medicinal value compared to wild species. In fact, they may even be unhealthy -heavily sprayed with malathion and other pesticides and provide no nutritional value. The medicinal mushrooms include: Reishi, shitake, chaga, turkey tail, maitake, agaricus, oyster mushrooms, coriolus, cordyceps, poria which contain immune enhancing benefits.

Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to

replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook

Check out our new Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Dairy and Egg Free Cookbook! Ideal for individuals with celiac disease or who are following a wheat free / dairy free diet. Over 200 tasty recipes including wheat free cinnamon buns, avocado fig fudgesicles, mediterranean quinoa salad, coconut lime chicken and wheat free chocolate chip cookies. 417 pages of useful tips for those with wheat and gluten allergies!

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook written by Alissa Sergersten and Tom Malterre – also contains food allergy substitution charts, a hidden gluten foods list, deserts and a 7 day sample menu plan.  Available for purchase at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group!

Purchase your Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook here!!