As much as Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is gaining popularity in today’s day and age, it has actually been used for centuries by indigenous cultures, natural healers, and traditional medicine practitioners. Historically Chaga mushroom has been prescribed for many ailments, like cancer, bacterial infections, tuberculosis, heart disease, and parasites. This time we’ll be focussing on Chaga as a topical treatment and learn how to make an all-natural Chaga Body Butter yourself at home.
Chaga is great for skin support and can be extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from different skin conditions like acne, allergic reactions, dermatitis, rosacea, different causes of itching (like bug bites), eczema, psoriasis, rashes to name a few.
Different extraction methods of Chaga
Let’s have a closer look at the individual extraction methods and their effect on making micronutrients in Chaga bioavailable for the human body. There are three most common extraction methods for Chaga – water extraction, ethanol extraction, and dual extraction. Each method produces tinctures with different micronutrient content.
Hot water extracts deliver high levels of melanins, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and beta-glucans. The benefits include, but are not limited to stimulation of the immune system, antiviral properties, healthier skin, hair, and nails. Water extraction is a rich source of antioxidants, protecting against UV radiation and oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It’s a great source of essential minerals, vitamins, and amino acids for a daily health boost. Therefore hot water extracts are considered the best to use in skincare – remember that when making your Chaga Body Butter.
Alcohol aka ethanol extraction delivers higher levels of triterpenes, therefore also sterols, and lignin, which are some of Chaga’s most significant characteristics, including anticancer activity, immunomodulatory activity, inflammation management, and the facilitation of healthy cell regeneration.
The best extraction method is believed to be the dual extraction, that Chinese companies started to sell in the early 2000s. As the name suggests, the dual extract is a mix of water and alcohol extraction. Chaga double extraction recipes that include heating the Chaga are considered stronger, more potent options. Heating expands the cell walls of the fungus, allowing for more nutrients to become bioavailable and create a stronger healing potion including both heat-activated and alcohol-soluble compounds.
Chaga in skincare products
There are three most common extraction methods for Chaga (water extraction, ethanol extraction, dual extraction), each produces tinctures with different micronutrient content. As a topical treatment, especially in delicate areas like your face, try to avoid ethanol extractions as alcohol has a tendency to dry out your skin.
Hot water extracted Chaga tincture’s benefits in skincare, the water-soluble compounds include, but are not limited to high levels of melanins, polyphenols, and polysaccharides like beta-glucans.
- Melanin in cosmetics is used as a skin-conditioning, protecting, anti-aging agent. It’s a polymer able to donate or accept an electron, meaning the melanin pigment interacts with free radicals and other reactive species due to the presence of unpaired electrons in its molecules, making it an incredible antioxidant.
- Polyphenols have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic properties. Recent studies even suggest that tea polyphenols can be used for reducing sebum production in the skin and for treatment of acne vulgaris.
Related study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384166/
- Polysaccharides like Beta-glucan are complex carbohydrates that exist throughout nature, especially in plants. Highlights from an active study, state that polysaccharides are able to accelerate the re-epithelialization and tissue regeneration of wounds. Their renewing and hydrating effects on the epidermis have been demonstrated, with the power to induce death of microorganisms causing skin infection. Polysaccharides may also protect the skin from UV radiation, preventing oxidative stress and cancer. Beta-glucans can effectively improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by improving the structure of the skin.
Related study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S014486172101211X
How to prepare raw Chaga for skincare?
First, your Chaga needs to be harvested or bought, each comes with a set of moral laws to follow. Most importantly remember that Chaga needs to be harvested from a healthy forest, and a living birch tree. To keep Chaga around, the fungus needs to be harvested sustainably as it can take up to 20 years for it to mature. Sustainable harvesting of Chaga means that 40-50% of the fungus will be left on the tree.
Related: How to harvest healthy Chaga?
Then follows the drying process, which isn’t complicated, simply make sure not to let the temperature exceed 50 degrees Celsius. Feel free to use a dehydrator or dry your Chaga in an oven by keeping the oven door somewhat open for airflow, perhaps you’ll even find a dry, warm, well-ventilated spot in the house to leave the Chaga to dry safely. The drying process generally takes a few days, up to weeks if dried in the sun.
A large part of Chaga’s longevity depends on how it is stored. The fungus is best to be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Unfortunately, exposure to the sun, air, humidity, and other contaminants affects the quality of your Chaga. When stored properly, Chaga has a shelf life of one to two years.
Related: How to dry Chaga and stay clear from mold?
Last but not least Chaga needs to be processed to make it bioavailable for humans. As mentioned before water extraction is the optimal and universal way to incorporate Chaga into your skincare.
With the water extraction method, Chaga is steeped in hot water for hours. During that process, the fungus’s cells are broken down and water-soluble compounds from the raw Chaga are dissolved. When finished, the leftovers of raw products, as well as additional not soluble compounds that are left in the water, will be discarded after the process is finished. Water extraction can also be referred to as Chaga tea.
Related recipe: Chaga Tincture | Water extraction
DIY All-Natural Chaga Body Butter
It turns out that even a czar in 12th century Russia credited the application of a Chaga decoction in the disappearance of his lip tumors. Therefore whatever it is that you might be struggling with, consider the natural healing powers of Chaga.
To keep the DIY All-Natural Chaga Body Butter clean, plant-based, and organic we’ve paired the water extraction with Shea butter – a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer. Shea butter is also edible and is used in food preparation in some African countries.
Shea butter works like an emollient and contains substances that can reduce skin swelling. This adds additional benefits to the DIY All-Natural Chaga Body Butter and helps treat conditions associated with skin swelling such as eczema.
DIY All-Natural Chaga Body Butter
- 100 grams Raw shea butter
- 2 tsp Vitamin E oil (plant derived)
- 2 tsp Jojoba oil
- 2 tbsp Chaga water extract
- Prepare your raw shea butter for a "water bath" by cutting it into small pieces
- Let a saucepan half full of water come to a boil
- Transfer the prepared shea butter into a heat proof bowl, set it in the saucepan and melt the butter until it's mostly liquid.
- Once the shea butter has melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan.
- Add 1 tsp of Vitamin E oil and 1 tsp of Jojoba oil to the mixture.
- Now it's time to heat up the Chaga water extraction so it'll blend better into the oil mixutre.
- Once the oils are all combined, take out your handheld mixer.
- Slowly pour the hot water Chaga extraction into the melted shea butter, using a hand-held mixer to blend the ingredients until smooth.
- Continue whipping the mixture until it's fluffy and thick – the volume of the mixture should nearly double in size.
- When finished simply transfer the whipped Chaga body butter into a clean jar.