Recently I have been reading up on mushrooms, how to grow them, how to identify them in the wild and I have also been learning about their health benefits. This spring I would like to try growing mushrooms on logs outside. However, due to my impatient nature and the desire to try and improve and protect my health NOW……. I bought three types of dried medicinal mushrooms from a company I am affiliated with….. Mountain Rose Herbs. I am having fun experimenting with the different ways mushrooms can be used. There are many culinary uses for mushrooms and certain varieites are also known for their outstanding medicinal immune boosting properties. Maitake, Shitake and Reishi mushrooms are three types that win first prize for supporting the immune system. The Reishi mushroom has the longest history which centers around medicinal use and this will be the mushroom I'll tell you a little bit about today
I have found that it is very easy and much cheaper to brew your own medicinal mushroom tea rather than buying commercial tinctures, extracts and powders…. however, these products do play an important role for those who don't have the inclination to brew their own tea. When you begin with a whole food you have more control over how it is processed and you establish a better understanding of the food and how it affects you.
Reishi mushrooms are classified as an adaptogen or tonic food. This means that it supports the body's systems and can be taken often without harm. A book that I highly recommend… ….. tells us that "Reishi's adaptogenic effects are mild and cumulative, but research shows it improves adrenocortical function and relieves stress." Reishi is fairly rare in the wild and in China it used to be reserved for only the emperor and his court. Reishi strengthens the immune system, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps to protect the liver, has anti-viral properties and can help with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.Many who take reishi consistently acquire a greater sense of well- being. Because reishi helps to regulate the immune system it can be helpful in cases of cancer, autoimmune disease and allergies. Extensive research has been conducted on this herb or mushroom. It has been found to be very safe and to have to have a wide range of medicinal and tonic uses.
You can buy Reishi as a tincture, in capsule form, sliced pieces or as a whole mushroom. They say that reishi is somewhat difficult to cut so I ordered the slices …as you can see in the photo below. It is extremely easy to buy the reishi slices and simmer them up into a tea. Here's where I bought mine. If you buy 5 pounds of herbs..all of the same thing or mixed varietes, you get 10% taken off your bill.
In future posts I will write about my experiences with and the health benefits of chaga, maitake, and shitake mushrooms.
To Make Reishi tea, you simply break up the reishi slices into small pieces, till you get about half of a cup. Find a pan that is enameled on the inside or made of glass or pottery.You don't want the metal from metal pans leaching into the tea and possibly affecting its healthgiving properties. Place the reishi pieces into the pan, add 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Turn it down to simmer, cover it and simmer for about 2 to 2 and a half hours. When the tea is done, strain out the pieces. I've read you can place these spent pieces on top of the dirt of your houseplants or in your garden. If you are in a hurry or want a less potent infusion, you can simmer the mushroom pieces for only 20 minutes.From what I understand, the longer you brew, the stronger the medicinal properties will be.
You can drink the tea hot, warm or cold….which is the way I like it. You don't add any sweetener. To me the taste is pleasantly bitter and it imparts a cleansing refreshing feel to the mouth. It is reputed to be an excellent detoxifier. The "bitter" taste is very beneficial to humans and aids in digestion. Modern diets very rarely include foods with this essential bitter taste. I store my tea for 2 to 3 days in the refridgerator and then if I haven't finished it after the third day, I give the rest to my plants. I drink up to 3 cups a day…spread apart. Because Reishi has a cumulative effect, it makes sense to include it as a regular part of your diet. In fact I finished up my jar of tea this morning and need to go make another pot.
There are different types of Reishi. The type with the most highly sought after medicinal properties is red reishi ( Ganoderma Lucidum) which can be found at the link I mentioned above. I had been reluctant in the past to buy medicinal mushrooms in the healthfood store…because of the expense. I found that when you buy in bulk, it can be as much as 4 times cheaper than in the store. And because the mushrooms are dried their shelf life is for at least up to a year. I think its a great emergency health food to have on hand.
Reishi mushrooms are not a culinary mushroom as they are extremely woody and indigestible. They are for making an immune boosting tea.