In terms of medicinal mushrooms, reishi are probably the most well known, at least in our culture here in the US. They actually have a whole website dedicated to them: Reishi.com. Here on the gulf coast and right on the Pensacola Permaculture property we’re finding that the brown reishi grow quite commonly in the wooded areas.
Reishi are a staple in Chinese medicine. Mushrooms are generally considered a booster to the immune system (sorry, not so much the white ones you see in the super market) and reishi especially so. The list of reported benefits of reishi extract is fairly extensive and includes:
- Anti-allergic activity
- Bronchitis-preventative effect, inducing regeneration of bronchial epithelium
- Antibacterial, against Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Bacillus pneumoniae (perhaps due to increased immune system activity)
- Antioxidant, by eliminating hydroxyl free radicals
- Antitumor activity
- Antiviral effect, by inducing interferon production
- Lowers blood pressure
- Enhances bone marrow nucleated cell proliferation
Popular was to ingest the reishi are tincture in which the properties are extracted by soaking in alcohol for two to four weeks, decoction in which a very strong “tea” is made, and double extraction, which combines the two.
What we’ve been getting into around here is somewhere between a decoction, tea and coffee-substitute or breakfast beverage. Here’s the basic recipe:
- chop equal parts ginger root, turmeric root and reishi mushroom into small chunks, about the size of a chocolate chip. (powdered item can be substituted if necessary)
- boil water with about a 10/1 ratio of water to mushroom/root.
- let simmer for 20 – 40 minutes
- drink plain or with milk, honey, lemon, etc.
Turmeric is also reputed to be a strong anti-cancer medicine and is said to be more accessible to the body when ingested along with something spicy like ginger or black pepper (a nice addition or substitution of ginger is not available). Ginger is of course also a “super-food” and garlic can be a cool addition as well.
Cutting the reishi mushroom ain’t terribly easy once it’s dried out, but slowly and surely it will come down in size. If you don’t have a mechanical or electric chopper of some sort, I’ve found that serrated knife works fairly well.
Our children also really enjoy this drink. Feel free to share your experiences or suggestions, as always. Enjoy.