Medicinal Mushrooms for Super Immunity

food health Jan 17, 2016

Medicinal Mushrooms for Super Immunity
January 17, 2016
Gabriela Lerner
Have you tried using medicinal mushrooms yet? These include chaga, reishi, cordyceps and agarics blaze, with the main benefits being to increase immune function, help to fight viruses and infections and even combat cancer growth.


Medicinal mushrooms grow on trees, in fact they have a symbiotic relationship with the tree and are deeply connected with the earth’s energies. They often take a long time to grow, so it’s important to buy medicinal mushrooms from reliable, sustainable sources. As medicinal mushrooms become more popular, the demand increases and often leads to unsustainable harvesting practices that destroy eco systems. See below for good sources to buy your mushrooms.


My two favourite mushrooms are chaga and reishi because they are versatile and can be brewed into a tea, used in vegan hot chocolate drinks, can be turned into tinctures or powders to use in a variety of ways. There is plenty of information on the internet, so I will keep it short.

Let’s start with Chaga

Often called the King of Mushroom, Chaga grows in the Northern hemisphere in deciduous forests, mostly on birch trees. In England it grows in Scotland, and this is according to David Wolfe one of the finest quality Chaga. Chaga also often comes from Russia, Estonia and Canada.


Chaga is probably the tastiest of the medicinal mushrooms. It makes a delicious dark brew which goes well with a bit of raw cacao powder, a sliver of raw cacao butter and freshly made nut milk to make nourishing chocolate drink (hot or cold). If you drink coffee, consider adding an expresso cup of coffee to your chaga tea. Chaga is rich in Melanin (absorbs harmful UV radiation and thus protects from skin cancer. It’s high in various antioxidants and it is of course an excellent source of Polysaccharides, such as Beta Glucans which are known to fight cancer and boost the immune system, hormone balance and fights viruses and bacteria.


I get my chaga chunks from Revolution Foods. They sell sustainably harvested, Scottish Chaga in chunks and as powder. Buy the chunks to brew tea, or the powder to stir it into your smoothies, soups, dressings or juices. Oh, or mix it in with your raw chocolate!


Use code ‘rawfood’ to get 10% off your order at Revolution Foods


For USA and Canada, I find Fiddleford Head Heaven is a good source of sustainable chaga. They also give a lot of information about Chaga and how to use it.  but there are many others… do a search, but also do your research and make sure it’s a trustable, sustainable source. David Wolfe’s Longevity warehouse of course also sells high quality chaga.


To make chaga tea from chunks, add 2 l of hot (not boiling) water to 3-4 chunks of chaga and brew for 6-8 hours on a low temperature. A slow cooker is ideal for this. Strain the tea and drink it or store in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can then brew another batch or you can use the strained chaga chunks to make a tincture by topping the chunks with alcohol (100 proof vodka for example). Keep it in a dark place for 6 weeks to extract the medicinal properties. Then strain the tincture and store in dark bottles.


So what about Reishi?

Now reishi (Ganoderma lucid) is a different thing. Most reishi you can buy is now cultivated. Reishi is known for it’s cancer fighting and longevity enhancing properties. Similarly to Chaga, it’s rich in antioxidants, Beta Glucans and is believed to suppress the growth of tumours. Furthermore, Reishi can be helpful in asthma and other respiratory conditions, has anti-inflammatory properties and benefits the heart, because it can help to lower cholesterol and may help reduce high blood pressure. In China, Reishi is known as ‘the divine fungus’ or ‘the mushroom of immortality’. I mostly make tea with reishi. Itt’s not as tasty as Chaga, I tend to add things like the longevity herb Pao D’Arco and a few goji berries to add some flavour. And again, raw cacao adds a depth of flavour. 


There is a very good site that explains a bit more about Reishi and how to create tinctures and decoctions to use it for medicinal purposes. Have a look at No Taste Like Home.


Reishi is apparently easy to grow, and you can buy spores (as well as other mushroom spores) in the UK from The Mushroom Box.


If you want to buy reishi chunks for tea making, my favourite source is Raw Living EU.

To make Reishi tea, break the mushroom into small pieces, bring water to the boil, add the mushroom pieces and brew for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. In contrast to Chaga, Reishi needs to have boiling water to start with to really get the benefits.


Otherwise you can buy ready made tincture or powder extract. When you use powder extract you can just add 1tsp of powder to a cup of hot water for an instant tea. I love using the Chaga powdered tea extracts from North American Herbs & Spice Co.


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