You’ve heard the phrase from Hippocrates, “Let food by thy medicine”. And while to some people fungi may not be considered “food”, there are several that having healing properties.
I was first introduced to medicinal mushrooms by my husband who learned about them before me. My husband is a big hiker and often sees mushrooms in the woods. He (and I) quickly learned about chaga & reishi and later on, turkey tail, cordyceps & birch polypore.
These are other mushrooms that have medicinal properties also
In recent years there has been a lot of focus on the various immunological and anti-cancer properties of certain mushrooms, but they also offer other potentially important health benefits, including antioxidants, anti-hypertensive and cholesterol-lowering properties, liver protection, as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.
If you are an avid hiker like my husband, you can harvest your own mushrooms as you stumble across them. The one precaution that I will encourage is that you do not over harvest. Simply take what you can use in the immediate future. I have been hearing about the over harvesting of chaga which is causing some concern about its sustainabiity.
If you aren’t quite so ambitious, you can purchase the extract and tictures of these mushrooms from your local health food store or do a quick search online. I’ve even seen online a coffee made with medicinal mushrooms.
In our house, we make a mushroom tea by drying the mushrooms then grinding it into a powder. We simmer it in hot water for about 20 minutes. We often add some maple syrup to it because mushroom tea tends to be quite bitter.
You can drink it warm or chill it in the refrigerator for an iced tea variation in the summer.
I’ll be honest and tell you that the flavor is strong, deep and has a taste that needs to be acquired… but it is worth it for all its medicinal properties.