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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • November 2017
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Fungus amongst us — Health-enriching mushrooms

Recent decades have seen an explosion of research supporting the use of fungi in health promotion. Some common actions shared by many medicinal fungi include: balancing the immune system, liver support, anti-tumor, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, lowering LDL cholesterol, anti-inflammatory.

Let’s take a look at some of the readily available mushrooms we can use to support our health, using nature’s plants:

Chaga

(Inonotus obliquus, Hymenochaetaceae)

Chaga is very popular as an immune tonic and antioxidant. There is concern about the overharvesting of chaga, since it is not currently being cultivated, so avoid use as a daily beverage, but use as needed for health promotion. For example, prepare chaga chai with traditional chai spices to help prevent colds and flu.

Maitake, or Hen of the Woods

(Grifola frondosa, Meripilaceae)

Maitake is used as a liver tonic to balance the immune system, has demonstrated antitumor activity, helps lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels, and lowers blood pressure.1

Shiitake

(Lentinula edodes, Marasmiaceae)

Uses of shiitakes include supporting the cardiovascular and immune systems. They are antioxidant and used as a cancer preventive to increase stamina, improve circulation and alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Hemlock Reishi, or Varnished Artist’s Conk

(Ganoderma tsugae, Ganodermataceae)

There are different species of this mushroom: Ling-zhi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Ganoderma tsugae, which can be substituted for one another in recipes. Reishi is used to support underactive and overactive (e.g., allergies and asthma) immune activity. Reishi is used in traditional Chinese medicine for the liver, heart and lungs.1 It is helpful as a daily support for those who often suffer from respiratory infections. Reishi is also used for those with hepatitis C, or with a history of alcohol abuse or exposure to environmental toxins. It is an adaptogen (balances the body, supports its ability to manage physical, mental and emotional stress), known for increasing vitality, energy and overall resilience.3 Reishi is used for anxiety; it is noted to be balancing and grounding.

Here’s a wonderful recipe that can be used to support immune function — it’s a nice option for those who may not like elderberry syrup — or who want to try something different. It’s yummy. Even kids like it!

MAPLE MEDICINAL MUSHROOM CONCOCTION

Recipe from Juliet Blankenspoor, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine

Ingredients

1 cup dried shiitake slices (1 ounce, or 28 grams)

1 cup dried maitake slices (¾ ounce, or 21 grams)

1 cup dried chaga crumbles (2½ ounces, or 70 grams)

1 cup dried reishi slices (1 ounce, or 28 grams)

2 tablespoons cinnamon chips

2½ teaspoons decorticated cardamom seeds

¾ cup maple syrup

11 ounces organic corn, grape or cane alcohol (190 proof [95 percent]), or 21 ounces (621 ml) 100 proof (50 percent) vodka

Directions

  1. Add mushrooms, cinnamon, cardamom and 40 ounces of water to a pot. Stir well to coat the mushrooms and herbs.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 6-8 hours. Stir and check water level frequently. When water dips below the mushroom-herb mixture, add enough water so mixture is completely submerged.
  3. Turn off heat and leave uncovered to cool 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a straining cloth into a half-gallon jar.
  5. Press mushrooms with a stainless steel potato ricer.
  6. Measure 32 ounces of your liquid into a half-gallon mason jar. If you have less, add water to bring volume to 32 ounces. If you have more than 32 ounces, pour off the excess. Exact measurement is important, or your proportions will be off.
  7. Add maple syrup and alcohol.
  8. Shake well, and pour into your storage bottle.

Store in the refrigerator for one year; in a dark, cool cabinet for 6 months. Adult dosage is one teaspoon to one tablespoon, twice daily. 


References:

1. Hobbs, C. Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture. (Botanica Press, 2002).

2. Stamets, P., and Yao, C. D. W. Mycomedicinals: An Informational Booklet on Medicinal Mushrooms. (MycoMedia, 2002).

3. Winston, D., and Maimes, S. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. (Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., 2007).

T. Heather Herdman, RN, PhD

T. Heather Herdman, RN, PhD is co-owner of Sweet Willow Naturals in Green Bay, where we have over 140 organic herbs and 70 organic spices available for you to craft your own products, or to simply enjoy as tea. Our store focuses on education and we have many classes to help you learn about herbs, aromatherapy, nutrition, and self-care – focusing on safe information backed up by research and experience. We also offer wellness coaching and massage – stop in today! For more information, visit http://www.sweetwillownaturals.com or email [email protected]

Website: www.sweetwillownaturals.com
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