As a seasoned outdoorsman and wild chaga hunter myself, I wish to briefly address the misconception and downright falsehood of various Internet claims concerning chaga and its purity. This information is for anyone seeking wild chaga tea for chaga health benefits.
Wild Chaga takes an average of 4-5 years to be harvestable. Trees infected with chaga can live for 10, maybe 20 years before the wild chaga kills them. Once the wild chaga fungi spore, a very rare sight, the spores spread out and settle on everything nearby as the air carries them. The spores find a suitable tree host and the infection begins. The wild chaga starts deep within the heartwood byway of accessing the sap in the tree. Once firmly established in the heartwood the chaga growth slowly begins to expand. Eventually, as years pass, the wild chaga growth becomes large enough to break through the outer bark and form the gnarled black charred mass we see.
When wild chaga is growing in the tree and the wild chaga takes nutrients from the tree, the wild chaga is working to grow and procreate thereby slowly killing the tree. It is no different than a disease growing within the body of any organism. But it has its unique place and purpose within the ecosystem and therefore deserves respect. However, it does not share some kindly relationship with the tree. The only relationship it has with the tree is one of infection.
There is a lot of talk about how pure and elite Alaskan chaga is, but unless I see laboratory verified documents to back up such a claim, I cannot buy into it and I will tell you why.
Fungi in general are well known to soak up and store radionuclides and heavy metals. This is a well known fact. Between my knowledge of plants and fungi as well as having a RAD II certificate from training and worked for a time in a government clean-up facility. I know enough about radiation to understand the basics quite well.
The Fukashima disaster in Japan flooded the west coast of America and Alaska with more airborne radioactive contamination than most places in the world. Even today in 2015 verifiable reports are coming in stating the ocean carried radioactive material from Fukashima is starting to read the west coast of America. Beings that fungi soak up radionuclides like a sponge I can take a pretty good guess that many of the west coast and Alaskan longer living fungi have decent levels built up in them. Including chaga. Beings that the Fukashima disaster began (yes it continues today) in April of 2011, the trees hosting chaga could very well be alive for many more years to come, and the chaga will continue to hold those radionuclides.
Fukashima radiation originally came across the Pacific in the atmosphere, fell with the rain in the ocean and land primarily west of the Continental Divide. There it got into the ground water and soil. Once in the ground water and soil it was free to get sucked up into the roots of all plants and trees. Now it travels in the Pacific Ocean and is reaching the coastline of North America and Alaska where it will do further damage to the entire ecosystem. Personally my family and I do not purchase any food or medicine products grown along the west coast states of North America because of this ongoing contamination.
In other countries like India, China and Mexico for example, the pollution levels are staggering and those extreme levels of pollutants infiltrate every aspect of the land.
Companies claiming that wild-harvested chaga from Alaska and the west coast of America is among the purest and most potent in the world certainly have not been doing their research or are flat out spreading falsehoods to consumers just to inflate their prices. Both are unacceptable and highly irresponsible.
Vermont was spared the heavy Fukashima contaminants that flooded the North American west coast. Beings that Vermont is in New England and in the far northeast sector of the continent, there is approximately 3,000 miles of land and air buffering us from the Pacific coastline. Of course almost everywhere in the world was effected by Fukashima’s original fallout, some places were touched far heavier than others, and Vermont is one of the more lucky places because of its global positioning. Not so lucky as places like Siberia, but far more buffered than the west coast of America. Do not believe for one moment that the west coast of North America is not heavily contaminated by radionuclides, because nothing could be further from the truth. Take a look at this time captured moving model of the fallout (scroll down the linked page). Take note of the entire west coast well into the Rocky Mountains of America and Alaska.
With the knowledge that wild chaga is well known to soak up and store radionuclides and heavy metals, I make sure to harvest only from wilderness areas far away from roads, towns and cities. On occasion I come across a birch tree alongside a road or parking lot and see that someone has chopped a chaga burl off it. I just shake my head and ponder how many contaminants like heavy metals could be held inside that chaga from vehicle exhaust that person might be trying to sell as medicine or use themselves…
Like anything else in the form of food and medicine, know your sources, do your research and get educated, because there are many companies out there telling potential consumers whatever they wish to hear, true or false to sell their products without conscience. If you seek chaga tea for health benefits, please beware of your sources. Here in the Vermont mountains I do my very best to bring you the best chaga Vermont has to offer. But, not all wild chaga hunters have your best interest in mind.
White Wolf Von Atzingen ~ 2015