When preparing herbal medicine, the chemistry of some herbs calls for a more involved extraction process to obtain the best results. Reishi is one example.
The following process refers to the Reishi mushroom but it can be used for other medicinal fungi also. There are a few versions of this process used in the herb community. This one is based on information shared by Guido Mase’ in “The Wild Medicine Solution” and gets my vote as the most complete and effective method for extracting the therapeutic constituents from Reishi.
Some constituents in Reishi, especially the triterpenes, require a high percentage of alcohol. Other constituents, especially the immune enhancing polysaccharides, benefit from a longer hot water decoction. This process is more involved than usual but the end results make it worthwhile.
What you need:
What to do:
Break up the dried pieces of Reishi with a knife or by hand. Then place these in a blender to further process. The end result should be similar to sawdust.
Divide the Reishi into two equal weight portions. In practice, any amount can be used. In this example, we will use 4 oz. total of Reishi so each portion has 2 oz.
With one portion, make a tincture.
Because the ground Reishi is light and takes up a lot of volume, the standard ratio of 1:5 is not enough menstruum to cover the herb. In this case, I place the Reishi in a 16 oz canning jar and top off with menstruum. This comes out to approximately a 1:7 ratio.
The menstruum is 70% Everclear, 20% glycerine and 10% water. This can be prepped in a separate container and used as needed.
Let the tincture mixture steep for one month. An occasional shake is helpful.
After one month, separate the marc (herb) from the menstruum (liquid). Save the menstruum and discard the marc. You should have close to 10 oz of finished tincture, depending on the type of tincture press.
Once the tincture is complete, it is time to make the decoction.
Add 2 oz of Reishi to 48 oz of water. Simmer on low heat for two hours. The Low setting on a slow cooker can also be used.
Add more water if too much evaporates.
After one hour, strain the herb from the water and discard the herb.
Reduce the volume of the reishi tea by simmering and evaporation. Continue to simmer the tea until the volume matches the tincture amount. Let cool to room temperature.
In this example, you will ideally have 10 oz of tincture and 10 oz of tea.
Here comes the tricky part…
The polysaccharides in the tea are water soluble and do not blend well in alcohol. The vegetable glycerine acts as an emulsifier, helping to blend two constituents with different polarities. To further help this part of the process, the alcohol tincture should be slowly added to the tea. Not vice versa.
This stage is best done by pouring the tea into a blender pitcher and slowly adding the alcohol tincture with the blender on low.
The final product is 20 oz. in volume and about 30% alcohol. It keeps well non-refrigerated.
The amount used is highly personal and mindful experimenting is encouraged. Usual amounts range from 30 drops to 2 tsp a day.
The above hands-on method is preferred by the Community Herbalist. For folks looking for a less labor intensive way to benefit from this mushroom: make just an hour-long decoction and drink as a tea or purchase the commercial extract powder, often available in capsule form and blended with other mushrooms.
Reishi can also be added to long cooking stews and is an excellent immune-boosting addition to bone broth.