Are you stocking your pantry with medicinal mushroom yet? Packed sinuses and congested lungs always open to such medicines as this. Thinning secretions so they can run out along passageways that are less inflammed is the name of the game here. You can literally live on this broth for days with herbal teas and honey-lemon water and get through the roughest of flus in less time if you choose to stay in bed too. This is simple and tasty and satisfies all eating styles (omit the butter for vegan diets). Most health food and specialty grocery stores stock these items. The Reishi and Astragalus are easily sourced on-line if need be to get your pantry stocked well for flu season. I shave my whole Reishi mushrooms with a wood rasp which sounds like work but not really. Reishi mushrooms weigh nearly the same fresh as dried and are quite solid as they carry very little water in their cells. Health-wise they are worth the little extra effort. Rasps are found in hardware stores, are inexpensive, and mine lives with my knives. Otherwise buy it already shaved. I plan ahead and stock up by buying enough for a pot 1-2x/months through peak flu season.
Let's look a little deeper at some of the ingredients...
Astragalus Root – Astragalus membranaceus - Astragalus Root slices are a regular item in my pantry for more than 20 years now which was when I first learned of this anciently rooted plant that has walked with us humans for a long time. Related to our common vetch plants that grow easily here, Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a powerful adaptogenic herb and supports deeply restorative and surface immune responses. Astragalus has gained popularity recently as research has emerged about the "possibility that it can protect DNA and increase longevity". Such a broad, safe statement for what time has already taught us about this one, right? I was taught that it needs to be cooked to get the full benefit so I encourage this way instead of pills. Each slice can be cooked for up to six hours before all medicine is released.
Shiitake Mushrooms- Lentinula edodes - Shiitake’s flavor is 4 to 10 times more intense than that of ordinary button mushroom. Ordinary button mushrooms actually should be eaten in low to moderate amounts due their toxicity. Not shiitakes though! It is a fleshy fungi and is rich in nutrients. It contains proteins (18%), potassium, niacin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins. Another ancient medicine brought in on a food level to enhance and organize immunity, this thins secretions so they can move and opens respiratory passage ways by reducing inflammation. Did you know that Shiitake is said to love music? Yes, classical and rock and roll. It also likes company and flashlights. At least that's what some farmers report who grow Shiitakes on a daily basis. They assert that when you grow Shiitakes on an isolated log, it does not produce as much as when the log is in a cluster of logs. Word has it that it also produces generously when the people attending to it emit positive energy. If there are some clumsy people near it or arguments or fighting going on, Shiitake tends to be defiant and wilts. We drum and play music for our medicine plants here as well and this is an ancient practice too that even some modern grape producers for jelly making won’t talk about but actually do.
Reishi Mushrooms - Ganoderma lucidum - Regular consumption of Reishi, and there are a few different species that all have medicinal value, can enhance our body's immune system and improve blood circulation, thus improving any health condition. Reishi is also anciently rooted in use with humans and is recommended as an adaptogen, immune modulator, and a general tonic. Reishi is also used to help treat anxiety, high blood pressure, hepatitis, bronchitis, insomnia, and asthma. I love the immune enhancing and organizing characteristics of Reishi. The immune system has great power but can get dis-organized and over or under reactive even to the point of being life threatening, such as anaphylaxis (over reactive), and sepsis (under reactive). To this extreme, one usually needs modern medicine interventions to live through the ordeal. Coming down the intensity spectrum a bit, we can still see immune system disorganization and over or under responsiveness that is not life threatening but definitely not life enhancing either. There are a beautiful number of plants, and mushrooms, that carry this beautiful way of shoring up the immune system and reminding it that it can get organized and fight the good fight for re-establishing the boundaries necessary with the microbial world in our inner world. Indeed, boundary maintenance is one of the biggest jobs our immune system has. Reishi can help.
Mushroom Broth Medicine - The Recipe
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrot, celery, leek, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and leeks have softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant which only takes a minute.
2. Add the mushrooms, bay leaf, and peppercorns and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to release some moisture, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to the low and simmer with the lid on the pot until the vegetables are completely soft and the stock has a pronounced mushroom flavor, about two hours.
4. Remove from the heat and add your parsley and thyme. Cover and allow to cool to warm for an hour or so. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof container or saucepan; discard the contents of the strainer. Stir in the salt or tamari and taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. If not using immediately, let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Therapeutic Dose: 3 big mugs per day or 2-3 bowls of soup using this broth as the base. Turn this into a pot of soup or do as I do and drink it hot by the mug full with a splash of tamari. You can also cook grains in it or make traditional noodle bowls. Boundaries get re-established with the microbial world deep within thanks to the deeply nourishing and medicinal actions of broths like this. I trust the mushrooms to keep my people strong and well and bow deeply to these magical, mysterious medicine keepers found often in the forest who foster deep connections between all species there. Enjoy. xo-Jen
Great Reference & Read: Medicinal Mushrooms by Christopher Hobbs
Interested in deepening your knowledge of medicine plants?
Birthing an Herbalist in 13 Moons is starting up a new group again in March 2016 - This interactive on-line course in herbal medicine will provide you with a solid foundation for learning not only the skills and language of an herbalist and the science of the body but also the way we approach Nature and the plants in order to learn directly from them. We cultivate ourselves along the way. The on-line course starts March 18, 2016 and the in-person course begins May 28, 2016. See our classes at:
Jennifer Costa, Herbalist, Teacher, BS, RN, CST, and Founder of ElderMoon School of Herbs & Earth Medicine