WILD Mushrooms! Who knew?
They are poisonous!
Run Away! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! MUSHROOMS!
Okay, okay everyone just relax. Mushrooms have their place in this world, let me assure you and we will be talking about a few of the most medicinally powerful types that live and thrive in YOUR back woods!
Typically, tree mushroom are safe for eating. This is not always the case. Typically ground mushrooms are not to be reckoned with, but not all are dangerous. It is never a good idea to eat ANY mushroom unless you are 100% certain as to what it is. The best way to be certain is to take a class. Many adult education programs offer a foraging class or your local nursery might know of a forager in the area who might be able to show you the ropes. NEVER ATTEMPT TO EAT ANY MUSHROOMS UNLESS YOU ARE 100% POSITIVE YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE! Read that sentence again and then feel free to move on to the medicinal and exciting world of wild mushrooms!
First up, Miatake or Hen of the Woods:
You can find this gorgeous plume around this time of year, some people have reported finding as early as late August and as late as the end of November! The weather needs to be cool and a little dampness never hurt anyone. You will find these clusters growing at the base of living trees, and I have also seen some growing on stumps. Everybody is different right?
Miatakes contain polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system and also aide in stabilizing blood sugar and blood pressure. (*CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING A MUSHROOM REGIMENT IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE CONDITIONS)
There are specific polysaccharides that are known as beta-D-glucans, that are suspected to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. “The exact cancer fighting action is still not clear and is under study. Rather than attacking tumors themselves, some researchers believe they stimulate the production of T cells to fight afflicted cells.” (mushroomapprecaition.com)
Preparing these mushrooms is just a matter of personal preference. They can be fried, sautéed, baked, stuffed, or made into a tea by drying them and then grinding to put in a tea bag.
If you are not a fan of mushrooms, I get it. They are funky and they are technically a fungus. If you have issues eating mushrooms, maybe a tincture might be a better option. Most are available in a dried extract form such as capsule or as a tea!
NEXT is the Reishi Mushroom. This mushroom is by far one of the prettiest mushrooms I have ever seen. This mushroom grows on live trees and again, I have also seen it on tree stumps. The bands of red, gold, and orange create a stunning jewel growing on a hardwood! Beautiful!
Reishi mushrooms have been found to be effective in treating a number of conditions such as; allergies, asthma, a preventative right before and during flu season, inflammatory conditions, Candida (yeast) infection, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, etc. And the list goes on.
The best way to consume this mushroom is by drying it to make tea, pills or capsules, or tincture. This is touch one to eat as the fiber is very tough. You can also grind this mushroom into a powder and use it in your soups and other recipes.
A heads up on this, if you use a food dehydrator to dry these, I hope you enjoy the smell of sweaty gym socks wafting throughout your home! Stinky, but worth it!
And finally we have my absolute favorite medicinal mushroom around, all hail the almighty Chaga!
There is nothing more powerful on this earth than this fungus that lives and SEEKS OUT wounded and dying birch trees. This particular mushroom is partial to birch trees and mainly in New England, and more specifically, MAINE! The powerhouse, cancer fighting, inflammatory discouraging, antioxidant packed beyond anything else, Chaga mushroom is hard and bark like and resembles that of burned fire wood on the outside. The inside is a golden color that resembles yellow curry or turmeric if you will. This mushroom is not edible and I don’t think anyone would WANT to eat this one. The Chaga mushroom is best in tea or tincture forms.
As you can see, this chart shows Chaga blowing blueberries and Acai berry out of the water! Free radicals, LOOK OUT! Chaga is here to save the day! Right along with anitoxidant power, we have anti-cancer power! There is so much information and research out there to back this up that if I attempted to put it all down in this blog, we might be here a while. But the basics are that this mushroom is loaded with beta glucans, which we learned from Miatake mushrooms that stimulate the immune system to fight back, Chaga just has way more!
My experience with Chaga. I have foraged and processed my own for years. I was initially intrigued by this mushroom because I suffer from chronic hip pain that isn’t diagnosed as anything and I had heard of this mushrooms from friends who did forage. So in a desperate attempt to get relief, I tried this. I drank Chaga tea for 5 months, 4 to 5 cups per day faithfully and also used the tincture that I made with 100 proof alcohol (very spicy). I am being honest when I say, the pain that I had been dealing with for over 2 years, disappeared after 2 months! Gone, vanished, SEE YA! I was beyond impressed and started recommending to everyone I knew who had pain issues associate with inflammation. Drinking this as a maintenance supplement helps to keep all of my aches and pains at bay. All hail the almighty chaga mushroom!
Any of these mushrooms can be taken for good health and you do not need to have any of the conditions in order to benefit from the mushroom. I hope that I have been able to open your eyes to a world that maybe you didn’t know anything about. I highly recommend that if you are into organic living, healthy eating, and healing yourself through Mother Nature, that you look into taking a class and discover for yourselves the wild and wonderful world of wild mushrooms. Medicine in your own back yard!