Emily Garyfalakis Goodness Me! Radio Interviewing Blair Azure, founder of Annanda Chaga.
The Inspiration Behind Annanda Chaga
7 years ago, Blair decided to take his health into his own hands. He was diagnosed with heavy metal contaminants and had issues with gastro intestinal disease. He was on conflicting medications that just made him sicker, and traditional western medicine and doctors were having a hard time figuring out what was going on.
When Blair decided to take control of his health, he discovered chaga, and after taking it for a short period of time, noticed a tremendous difference. He shared his enthusiasm and excitement for chaga, and soon his family and friends were enjoying its benefits as well for their own unique health problems. 3 years ago, Blair started Annanda Chaga as an official business and has been full steam ahead ever since.
What Is Chaga?
Chaga has the label of a mushroom, but is actually a polypore fungus that grows on living trees, primarily birch trees. About 40% of the DNA in chaga matches our own DNA, making it very adaptogenic and useful in the human body. Chaga takes the nourishment and medicine from the birch tree and converts it into a bioavailable form that’s easy for us to absorb and use for healing. It has been used for centuries by ancient tribes and shaman as a traditional medicinal mushroom, but it is so rare and its secrets were so well guarded that it’s only now becoming well known as people are starting to seek more natural forms of medicine and healthcare.
Benefits of Chaga
Chaga is rich in a variety of different of different healing enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and constituents that have a profound overall effect on our health. Because it is an adaptogen, it gives your body what you need individually, bringing things back into balance—whether that means bringing things up or down. Every person is different with specific issues or problems, and chaga adapts to those issues and helps to heal them. It cleanses and purifies as well, and because its DNA is very close to ours, it’s easy for our body to use the nutrients available.
Chaga is rich in powerful antioxidants. It provides a very sharp clarity of mind, and provides more focus if you need it. Detoxification is a major benefit, and it also brings a great sense of wellbeing and a calming effect because it stimulates the endocrine system, helping you produce more melatonin (your sleep hormone) and serotonin (your happy hormone).
SOD: Chaga is well known for containing the antioxidant super oxide dismutase, also found in dark leafy greens or wheatgrass. Chaga is the world’s richest food source of SOD. SOD helps to remove toxins and free radicals on a massive scale.
The Difference Quality Makes
Chaga can be found in different places and different stages of growth. It has a set of criteria that need to be respected and followed in order to get all the benefit from chaga. For example, the type of tree chaga grows on affects its nutrient capacity—old birch trees make the best hosts, but are hard to find. They are mostly found deep in forests in the north where they are more undisturbed. Where the tree is located also affects the chaga. Chaga soaks in things from its environment, and so if the trees it is growing on are located in a contaminated area or near a landfill site, these chemicals potentially could get into the chaga as well. Chaga taken from the trees in Southern Ontario as opposed to Northern Ontario, where it is more secluded, will have very different medicinal properties.
As well, the maturity of the chaga is important. The mushroom can grow up to 20 years, making it a slow growing mushroom, and it needs that time to pull the medicine from the host tree. Any chaga taken younger than 3-5 years is not going to have the medicinal benefits you’re seeing, and isn’t worthy of harvest.
At Annanda Chaga, one of their mandates is not only to harvest sustainably, but to make sure they are getting the right chaga from the right location at the right maturity so that they can create a product with the most medicinal benefit. They have been validated by Eco Cert that they are certified organic and that they are harvesting chaga from a dedicated, sustainably land source with the right trees and environment. The chaga is harvested and packaged responsibly, right from the tree to the bag. Annanda also uses a third party tester to test for things like heavy metals and pesticides in their product to ensure their customers are getting the absolute best. They provide trace-ability, accountability, and quality assurance that can be trusted by customers.
How To Use It
One of the best ways to consume chaga is by making it into a tea. 1 to 2 cups of chaga daily is a good dose to derive benefit from it, and you can take chaga on a regular daily basis to help remove toxins and give nutrition to your body.
Annanda makes a find grind, coarse grind, and chunks of chaga, all of which can be made into teas. Because the chaga is harsh and dense, you want to steep it for longer periods of time in hot water, but not at a rolling boil. Boiling the chaga will actually destroy the phytonutrients and antioxidants present in it. Steep it at a lower temperature for 10-20 minutes, or even several hours or days in your slow cooker on a low heat. You can even store it in your fridge and drink it as a cold beverage once you have made a big batch. And best of all, you can make tea 3, 4, or 5 times from the same chaga—until you no longer see the dark colour.
You can also use it as a base for smoothies, incorporate it into baking, create salad dressings with it, or use their powder to sprinkle on foods. It has so many different applications and allows the user to be creative!
How Does It Taste?
Blair describes it as very palatable to drink with a mild earthy taste. It makes a very pleasant tasting cup of tea, soothing you from the inside out.