Burdock, Reishi, Chaga, Turkey Tail
Nourishing immune system support & stimulation
Leftover from the Winter CSA box for half price :)
Have you made a decoction before? If not, don’t fret! Once you do it, you will realize how simple the process is. Learn the rules and then break them. I’ll tell you how to make a standard decoction and then you can feel out the ratios and do what is right for you.
Measure out 1 oz (or about a 1/4 cup) of the blend and put it in a pot as if you were making a medium amount of soup. Add 32 oz of water (a quart). Bring the mixture of water and herbs to a boil. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes before straining yourself a mug. To get the most medicine out of this preparation, let the decoction sit for at least an hour after the 15 minutes of simmering. Then reheat and enjoy. A nice thing about decoctions is that you can keep adding more water and repeating the process until you coax every little bit of medicine out of the roots and mushrooms. You can absolutely let this decoction sit overnight after simmering. Reheat in the morning and enjoy. You can also use this blend as a broth booster. I toss a little in the pot when I’m making bone broth and the result is quite nice.
Now that you know how to work with your decoction blend, let’s talk about the why of this blend.
Mushroom conks and roots won’t give you their desired constituents when you simply pour just boiled water over them and cover. Nope. Their constituents are bound up in their hard tissues. They must be simmered with the water.
Medicinal Mushrooms are best taken everyday to help you build bone deep immunity. However, even just as a one time beverage, they have nourishing gifts to offer. I sourced these shrooms from a small company in the Adirondacks whose harvesting practices I feel comfortable backing. Let’s talk about each fungal friend and the lone botanical root individually:
Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae): “Reishi” technically refers to Ganoderma lucidum, which is one of the top 5 most well studied mushrooms in Japan, China, and Korea. American culture tends toward fungiphobia, whereas Japan, China, and Korea have a rich history of working with fungi in food, medicine, and culture. In Japanese, “Reishi” means “divine or spiritual mushroom”. Ganoderma tsugae is a closely related species in the same genus as G. lucidum that is much more abundant on the east coast of North America. G. tsugae and G. lucidum have almost identical chemistry. The reishi mushroom is an annual fruit body, or reproductive structure of the reishi organism, which lives under the surface of the bark. Reishi is a warming, nourishing and tonifying. Reishi has a particularly marked effect on the nervous system, alleviating anxiety and insomnia and helping to relax muscular tension. The water soluble polysaccharides are believed to be the reason for Reishi’s remarkable ability to modulate the immune system, reducing excessive immune responses when needed and stimulating the immune response when deficient. Reishi has a rich history of being revered by humans and has been well studied in double blind placebo human trials.
Burdock (Arctium lappa): Burdock root is nourishing herb best taken regularly for long periods in order to feel its beneficial effects. Burdock is exceptionally high in vitamins and minerals and has a generally nourishing effect on the systems of the body. According to clinical herbalist Jim McDonald, “Burdock strengthens the assimilation, utilization and elimination of the nourishment we take in.” Burdock has a bitter taste which stimulates bile and increases circulation. The herb is agreed to have a beneficial effect on the liver, which is perhaps why it is beloved by many as skin care herb. As it supports the liver it has a secondary effect of clearing the complexion.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor): Turkey tail is the most widely researched medicinal mushroom and a very common one in these Northeastern forests. Turkey Tail stimulates the immune system and supports the liver. Because of the immune stimulating properties, Turkey Tail may not be appropriate for persons with autoimmunity that results in immune system flare ups. I add this mushroom to broth and decoction blends all year but especially throughout the winter when I am attempting to bolster my immunity.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus): It is rare for me to include Chaga in a recipe because unlike the other mushrooms in this decoction blend, the Chaga we harvest is the mycelial organism itself, not just the fruiting body like Turkey Tail and Reishi. The difference in harvest is such as that between picking up apple from a tree vs digging up the roots of the tree. Chaga is locally abundant in high altitude birch forests but rare to find elsewhere. There is certainly not enough of Chaga to support a national demand for “Chaga lotion” and other products made to capitalize on its “superfood” status. With all of this in mind, I like to work with Chaga intentionally and be sure to source it well. The Chaga in this blend was collected by foresters in the Adirondack mountains from trees that had been felled. I included Chaga in this blend in a small amount because of its synergy with the other mushrooms and for its supportive effect on the immune system.
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