Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reishi Tincture: A Cure All
by Laura

Aside from being beautiful and entertaining to grow, Reishi has great medicinal benefits.
I suppose our recent craze over Reishi as a medicinal happened by accident. Occasionally,  our Table Top Farms fruit on us before we get a chance to put them in the cooler. This happened recently with a full load (nearly 50 blocks) of Reishi. Before we knew it we were surrounded on all sides by Reishi. What to do with all these mushrooms? Why not do what so many others are doing, and make a tincture!

Reishi is difficult to market in our area, mostly because it is not a culinary edible (it is considered non edible because it is too tough, it is NOT poisonous), and when taken in tea form, can be incredibly bitter. I have tried it among countless other teas and spices, and the bitter always shines through. I found myself struggling to finish even a single cup.

Sometimes referred to as the mushroom of immortality, Reishi is most commonly used as a supplement for boosting the immune system to prevent certain viral infections. It is also being used to help with high blood pressure, heart, lung, liver, and kidney disease, and cancer just to name a few. Further research will show you that it is being used for so many more ailments. If you are interested in the details of Reishi I recommend the book Mushrooms for Health by Greg Marley

After doing some research I found that certain medicinal components of Reishi are soluble in water (i.e. by making tea), but other components are only soluble in alcohol (i.e by making a tonic) and the very best form of it would come from a double extraction tincture. With a tincture you get the best of both worlds; a liquid that ends up to be 75% water, 25% alcohol, and contains everything that is good about Reishi. Surprisingly, the tincture seems far less bitter than the tea, and is taken in relatively small doses. Therefore, is far less noticeable when added to you favorite drink (I add it to my morning, midday, and sometimes evening coffee).


Mary Ellen 's obsession with coffee is real, and now includes a splash of Reishi tincture.  
"I know in my heart of hearts that if it were not for coffee I would have to find another reason to jump out of bed in the morning. In all truth I believe that Reishi tonic could be it. 1/2 tsp of this tincture first thing in the morning gives me that slightly caffeinated zing, plus I know it is a zing with benefits! I haven't tried it as a coffee substitute yet, but admit to hoping always to have the privilege of drinking both." -- Mary Ellen (Owner of F&FP)

Back in November, Mary Ellen and I decided to make a tincture and give it to all of the employees as a Christmas gift. Certain employees, and I'm not going to name names (Joe, Jasen, Nick, Lindsey & Natalie) have not been religious in taking their Reishi. They probably will not live as long as team members Mary Ellen, Derek, and myself, but we will always remember them for their hard work and dedication to the job.

Here is the method I used for creating the tincture (several online resources were compared for what I believe to be a great recipe):

First, I chopped up a bunch of Reishi using a coffee grinder. Some of this Reishi was fresh and some was completely dried. It filled a glass gallon jar about 1/3 of the way full. You could use a food processor as well (ours just wasn't doing the trick, it kept getting jammed.). Then, I added two bottles (750ml) of 100 proof vodka. The jar ends up to be a little more than half full. I placed the jar in a cool dark place and let it sit for four weeks, shaking it up every few days. Using cheese cloth I strained out the Reishi and placed it a large stock pot (reserving the alcohol of course). The alcohol is measured and an equal amount of water is added to the stock pot (do not add the alcohol though). This amount of water must be marked somehow. Mine conveniently lined up with the bottom of a screw on the stock pot. I added a few extra cups of water and boiled it down (about an inch below my mark) I did this a total of three times, but the third time I shut off the heat when the water reached my mark. Once it cooled I strained out and discarded the Reishi, added the water to the alcohol, stirred, funneled into 4 ounce dropper bottles, and labeled. Some of the discarded Reishi was added to my worm bins, and the rest went into the outdoor compost pile. If any of you have different methods or advice on how to make a tincture with Reishi I would love to hear about it!

Adding a dose of Reishi tincture to my coffee has become part of my daily routine both at home and on the farm.
I have been taking Reishi everyday since mid-December, mostly because I became extremely sick with Mono while my tincture was brewing. The sickness wiped me out for several weeks, and as a mother of four, this just simply can't happen again! I have managed to avoid becoming sick this entire month despite sickness all around me, even in my own home. I am convinced that Reishi is helping my immune system out tremendously, and honestly, going into this I was doubtful. I am not alone in this Reishi journey, here is what Derek had to say:

Depressed from a Packers loss, no worries, Reishi is here! 
"Reishi is not the best tasting fungi, but using this method for personal consumption allowed me to get a healthy dose every day without even noticing the bitter taste. There are various medicinal benefits of this mushroom including immune boosting properties and in my particular case, coping with depression. Once I got on a regular schedule of consumption I noticed the added energy and awareness boost, and can honestly say that I have avoided many flu and virus strains that have plagued the general public. Keep in mind I didn't even waste my hard earned money getting a flu shot! But above all, I have avoided the serious depression that coincides with Green Bay Packer playoffs losses. I am an avid Packer fan and happen to get emotionally invested in my team. Previous failed attempts to reach the Super Bowl left me bed ridden for days. I did not experience this sort of depression this year and I think it is reasonable to conclude that the Reishi helped me overcome this. Get on a regular schedule of Reishi consumption and find out for yourself!"

Derek and I wrote this testimony separately, neither of us, revealing what the other wrote until the day this blog was compiled. Amazing! I too, declined my annual flu shot in order to test the power of Reishi, one amazing fungus. 
Reishi fruiting on a log in here at the farm. This guy is indoors because Reishi is not a fan of our cold climate.







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