Reishi Mushrooms

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Hemlock Lacquered Polypore, Vancouver Island, BC
Hemlock Lacquered Polypore, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

The Hemlock Lacquered Polypore mushroom (Reishi Mushroom) itself is a fan-shaped shelf polypore and has a red to orange color that has a shiny top. It has a white underside when fresh. The white underside bruises quickly when touched, the bruising is a tan color. Only harvest the fresh mushrooms, if the underside is a brown or gray color, there could be potentially harmful molds present, you need to process these mushrooms as quickly as possible after picking them.

Looking at these mushrooms, you can see a whitish edge with the typical orange color closer to the host, sometimes newly fruited ones can be all white in color, the typical deep orange color will show up as they mature.

Reishi mushrooms have no poisonous look-alikes, making them safe for the beginning mushroom forager. Reishi mushrooms spoil quickly so get them into the dehydrator quickly. To dry them, cut into thin strips. Dried reishi mushrooms should be stored in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. 

In a class of medicines known as Adaptogens, Reishi mushrooms contain medicines known as adaptogens that can help you to adapt to cope with physical and mental stresses. You should drink tea for long periods of time to get the full benefits, as it can take weeks to build up in your system

They’re known to be analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-allergic and anti-tumor. Reishi mushrooms have also been shown to reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars. Its effects on blood sugar were significant enough that it has been successfully used in the treatment of diabetes.

The antioxidant activity of compounds found in reishi mushrooms seems to target free radicals responsible for aging. Reishi works to protect and strengthen the liver and has been successfully used for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B.

The cancer-fighting properties of reishi mushrooms are well documented in the scientific literature. Reishi doesn’t seem to fight cancer cells outside the body in tissue cultures, suggesting that the main anticancer effects are achieved by strengthening a person’s immune system and helping their body fight off cancer rather than attacking cancer directly.

The most common way to prepare reishi mushrooms is as a strong tea, where thinly sliced mushrooms are simmered for extended periods (1 to 2 hours) to extract their water-soluble constituents.  You can grind the dried mushroom into a powder that can be put into capsules and taken on a daily basis.

These mushrooms are edible but not very good, you can cut up a very young and fresh mushroom in very thin strips and saute them in butter, you will most likely not enjoy them, but what the hell, at least you tried. These mushrooms are much better if used as natural medicine.

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