As the fall approaches we must now focus on some of the things now available to you as wildcrafters and herbal “gatherers” that previously may have been difficult to find. This article entails some facts about medicinal mushrooms and is provided for informational purposes only. The information provided is not meant to, nor does it diagnose, treat, prescribe, cure, or recommend any actions for any disease or illness. Only a licensed physician may do such things; prior to taking any actions pertaining to this article, seek the approval of your licensed family physician.
Mushrooms are greatly available in the wilds toward the end of summer and the beginning of the fall. Mushrooms have many components in their makeup that can be used effectively against many types of diseases. There is one important thing to stress, however, before you go out and begin your attempts to gather mushrooms from your locality:
Mushrooms can be deadly poisonous, and you must be able to identify them 100% with no guesswork prior to utilizing them!
Four Powerful Medicinal Mushrooms
Your most powerful tool in this is a field guide, one with color photographs. Black and white drawings and color portraits are neither accurate nor completely reliable. A picture is worth a thousand words in this instance, and you are better safe than sorry. Once more: you must identify the mushroom before you use it! Medicinal mushrooms are used extensively in Japan, especially for immunostimulation of patients with cancer.
1. Shiitake Mushrooms
2. Reishi Mushrooms
3. Maitake Mushrooms
4. Oyster Mushrooms
Mushrooms as Natural Medicine
Shiitake mushrooms, Lentinula edodes are mushrooms that stimulate the immune system and also lower cholesterol with a substance called eritadenine. Shiitake mushrooms have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, as well as producing lentinan, the cancer-fighting substance mentioned earlier. Shiitake is a very popular mushroom used in various recipes that can be found fresh or dried in your local grocery food store.
Reishi and Shiitake are effective against numerous viruses, including HIV. Care must be taken, however, not to use them around the hemorrhagic flu viruses, such as H5N1 (Avian, or Bird Flu), or the Ebola viruses. The reason for this (as outlined in previous articles on hemorrhagic viruses with ReadyNutrition) is that they stimulate the production of TNF-a, a cytokine responsible for the “cytokine storm” reaction of the HFV’s.
How to Use Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms can be consumed fresh, dried, or tinctured, the latter being the preferred method for long-term storage and immediate use. Believe it or not, the dried form also tolerates time and temperature variance very well. The iceman (a bronze-age man found in the Sud-Tyrol region of the Alps back in the early 1990’s) had medicinal mushroom fragments in a leather bag that he kept as his own primitive “antibiotic” supply. The mushrooms were readily identifiable, although I do not recollect exactly what they were.
The tincture can be created by covering the chopped mushrooms with a mixture of grain alcohol (minimum of 52% concentration), shaken vigorously in a jar daily and kept in the dark for two weeks. The strained-off dark colored fluid will be your tincture. Because of the alcohol content, the mushroom tincture will last at least 3 years and be resistant to freezing, as the alcohol also lowers the freezing point for fluids. The tincture should be stored in a brown or blue-glass bottle to protect it from UV and light destruction.
Fresh mushrooms can be dried readily with a commercial dehydrator, a conventional oven, or solar-dried. As mentioned earlier, drying is a very versatile way of preserving them, as they can easily be reconstituted with the addition of water, and of course they can also be used in tinctures.
To summarize, medicinal mushrooms are wonderful additions to your prepping supplies and your “home pharmacy.” Always exercise great care in gathering them: it all starts with identification. If you are unsure of what the mushroom is? Discard it. It is better safe than sorry. Enjoy your excursions in the woods, and I wish you a successful and productive mushroom hunt!