Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Reishi

I found this beautiful mushroom growing on a nurse log in a dry creek bed in the Quinault Rainforest, a region of the Olympic Mountains. It is Ganoderma Lucidum, aka Reishi. It's not exactly a tasty mushroom, but I was still excited to find it. Why? Other than being a hand-held post-apocalyptic sunset, this mushroom is one of the most healthful substances known to man-kind.

According to Rebecca Wood's New Whole Foods Encyclopedia (as quoted from Reishi is "An immunostimulant, it is helpful for people with AIDS, leaky-gut syndrome, Epstein-Barr, chronic bronchitis and other infectious diseases. It is used as an aid to sleep, as a diuretic, as a laxative and to lower cholesterol." I briefly searched Google scholar for medical studies on the fungus and found that Reishi:
  • "suppressed cell adhesion and cell migration of highly invasive breast and prostate cancer cells, suggesting its potency to reduce tumor invasiveness" (Sliva, 2003)
  • an extract of Reishi "enhanced the immune responses in patients with advanced‐stage cancer" (Gao, 2003)
  • "intake of G. lucidum caused an acute increase in plasma antioxidant power" (Galer, 2010)
  • "The polysaccharides from G. lucidum enhance the repair process [of radiation damaged cells]" (Pillai, 2010)
These are just a sampling of the many studies showing powerful benefits of Reishi. Commercial extracts are available for upwards of 40 dollars, but, if you can find a wild specimen, stove-top preparation is quite simple. Just chop up the mushroom and boil the pieces in water for at least an hour. The resulting tea is bitter, but well worth it.

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