The Druid's Garden

Spiritual Journeys in Tending the Land, Permaculture, Wildcrafting, and Regenerative Living

Making a Reishi/Ganoderma Mushroom Double-Extract Tincture August 8, 2015

Stump with reishi growing!

Stump with reishi growing!

Most plants are fairly easy to prepare in terms of medicine–you can either tincture them, use them fresh, or create a tea or something similar. Reishi, the most incredible healing mushroom, requires a bit more preparation than a standard tincture to extract all of the medicinal benefits.

 

This post will describe the method for getting the most out of the reishi mushroom commonly found on Eastern Hemlocks in forests in the midwest and eastern US.  This extraction method would work with any reishi mushroom, including those you would purchase or wildcraft.  To understand what we need to extract the mushroom’s healing properties, we have to understand where it derives its healing.

 

This link has a wonderful overview to the Reishi’s medicinal properties and the research that has been done (this link is on Ganoderma Lucidium, but research done on Ganoderma Tsugae suggets the same compounds are present). In a nutshell, Reishi is a mushroom that can aid in a long and healthy life for a number of reasons: it has anti-cancer/anti-tumor properties that essentially prevent the creation of cancerous cells and tag the existing cancerous cells to allow the body to combat them; it has anti-aging properties, is anti-inflammatory, lowers blood pressure, protects the liver, protects DNA, and so much more. Reishi basically heals through three kinds of known compounds:

Amazing reishi!  This is what I made the double-extraction from.

Amazing reishi! This is what I made the double-extraction from.

  • Polysaccharies, which are extracted by water.
  • Triterpenoids, which are extracted by glycerine or alcohol.
  • Unique antioxidant properties to the peptide protein, also extracted by alcohol (not sure about glycerine?).

So, looking at this list, we understand the nature of the problem: Reishi needs both a water and an alcohol extraction, and we also want to preserve it long term.  How do we manage that?  Using a double-extraction:

 

1.  If you are starting with fresh, wildharvested reishi, begin by cut your reishi into small pieces and drying it. Because the water content of the end double-extraction matters, starting with dried rather than fresh reishi allows you to easily know how much water is in the final product.  If you use fresh reishi, you won’t know the water content in the alcohol.

 

Obviously, if you have purchased reishi, you can skip this step, as its already dried and ready for you.  Make sure you cut it up though, if its whole.

Dried reishi in a jar

Dried reishi in a jar

 

2.  Tincture your reishi in high proof spirits (I use 190 proof, 95% alcohol, when I can).  The proof of the alcohol does matter (see my comments below)–get the highest you can.  Tincture your reishi for at least a month.  I usually don’t worry about ratios for this–I just fill the jar with reishi and then top it off with alcohol.  The reishi will expand, taking on the little bit of water content in the alchohol, so keep this in mind.

 

3.  After a month has passed, press your tincture out (there’s a LOT of alcohol held up in those mushroom bits!).  And yes, I just found this AMAZING small fruit press at a flea market that I’m using for my new tincture press!  I also have instructions on how to make a Under $30 tincture press on the blog.

Pressing the Reishi Tincture

Pressing the Reishi Tincture

Mushrooms ready to decoct!

Mushrooms pressed and ready to decoct!

4.  Now, you need to decoct (that is, make a very strong tea over a period of days) the reishi mushrooms that you just tinctured. To do this, after I press them, I add them to my crock pot with fresh spring water or distilled water and keep them on low for three days, checking the water level often.

Decoction happening!

Decoction happening!

5. I let them mixture cool, pour off most of the liquid, and then press the decoction so that I get every last drop.  This is also really important because you’ll lose a lot of the good medicine if you don’t press.  You will likely have more liquid than you need for the tincture–you can freeze this, add it to tea, etc.  Its going to be super concentrated!

 

6.  Finally, you need to combine your water and alcohol into one jar and complete the double-extraction.  This requires some math, but its not too hard once you wrap your head around it.  This home distillation calculator will be invaluable to you during this last step.

Mixing tincture and decoction- and using an online calculator to check my math!

Mixing tincture and decoction- and using an online calculator to check my math!

This is where the proof of the alcohol critically matters–you have to add the right amount of the reishi decoction to the reishi tincture to get 40% alcohol or above (it will be preserved at that ratio indefinitely).

 

The proof of the alcohol in the USA is twice the percentage of alcohol by volume.  This means that an 80 proof drink is 40% alcohol; a 100 proof spirit is 50% alcohol; a 150 is 75% alcohol, and a 190 is 95% alcohol.  Its critically important to know what the alcohol content is when you are doing the double extraction, because your goal is to end up with a 40%-50% alcohol tincture after you add your reishi decoction in water.

 

I recommend using a 190 proof alcohol to decoct your reishi, because this makes the math VERY easy.  When you add a mixture of half tincture and half decoction, you end up with 40% alcohol, exactly what you want for a long-lasting tincture.

 

Now, not everyone has access to such a strong proof alcohol depending on the state where you live.  Most people can get 150 proof, at least, however.  If that’s the case, you just need to get to 40%, which means less water and more alcohol.  For example, an alcoholic tincture at the 150 proof (75%) means you can add 40% water to the alcohol and still end up above proof.

 

So once you’ve done that–congratulations!  You now have one of the most healing substances!  It tastes just like reishi mushroom!  I take mine every day :).

 

Reishi harvest!

Reishi harvest!

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21 Responses to “Making a Reishi/Ganoderma Mushroom Double-Extract Tincture”

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.

  2. Carter Says:

    Great article. I started my first reishi double-extract last week. I was under the impression I needed to use reishi harvested earlier in the year while they still have an immature white edge. However, I found some today here in New Hampshire that is completely red as in your first picture. Do you know if you attain equal benefit out of reishi harvested in August versus earlier in the year when they are multi-colored? Thank you for your help.

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Carter,
      I’ve used Reishi of both kinds, and in all of my herbal classes, I haven’t heard this before. Where did you learn it? I can certainly ask someone who may know more than me :). They are certainly easier to harvest and prep when they have their white edge. I wonder if it has to do with the fact they haven’t spored. I actually prefer to harvest them later in the season, after they’ve spored, so that I know they will continue to propagate everywhere :).

      • cartercoe Says:

        Wonderful. Thank you for the feedback. I like you’re thinking regarding the spores – better to promote as much regeneration as possible. I think I developed this seemingly incorrect idea in my head without any basis. Glad to have it corrected. Thanks again.

        • Willowcrow Says:

          Carter, I’m going to ask my herbal mentor and see what he says, just to follow up. But that’s been my thinking about the spores for a while. Most years, that works well. Some years, the worms and slugs get them! But I generally try to harvest later when at all possible!

          • cartercoe Says:

            Finally completed the double extract and excited to start taking it each day. Do you just add a tincture dropper to water? I am not sure what dose is needed to gain any benefit. Thanks!

            • Willowcrow Says:

              This is like the best question I didn’t answer, right? You can do a standard dose- 10-20 drops. Remember this is potent stuff. Don’t do like my dad did, and down a shot of it, lol. You can add it to water, tea, etc. Or take it straight if you prefer, but oh, its so mushroomy if you do it that way.

              BTW, I saw a few excellent presentations on medicinal mushrooms from Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain. He’s been doing lab research on mushroom medicinal properties, and seeing his work has me even more convinced that mushrooms have the power to really, really heal us!

              • cartercoe Says:

                Excellent, thanks for the info! I will look up Tradd. If I had to choose one mushroom tincture for general health, I assume it would be reishi. Do you agree? Do you know if anyone would argue that chaga or others are better for general health? I’m not trying to target just one health concern; really just looking for the best one-stop-shop.

                • Willowcrow Says:

                  I think it depends on the “general health” issues that you want to target. Reishi is heavy on the anti-cancer / anti-free radical side. That’s the one I take. But chaga has a lot of immune system and heart health things going on too. And then there’s Miatake. So if you found a chaga, you could tincture that, combine the tinctures, and then take the single tincture every day. If you found a miatake, you can eat it, lol. Or, you can stretch it out by adding the tougher bits to soup and making a bone broth….lots of ways to take mushrooms, and so many of them are really awesome :).

  3. Eddie Says:

    This is so helpful! Quick question though, would I be able to use vegetable glycerin instead of the alcohol for the first step or is the alcohol necessary?

  4. Christina Akins Says:

    This is the first time making reishi tincture and unfortunately I found this recipe after the fact. After soaking in alcohol for 2 months, I only simmered the reishi for 2 hours, not days like you suggested. Do you think that’s OK? Also, what do algae do you take each day?

    • Dana Says:

      Two hours will get some of the constituents out, but possibly not all of them. I think its ok though–just do the next one longer.

      I don’t take any algae each day :). Thanks for your comment!

  5. Hey!

    Great post. I recently found fresh Reishi and I made a tea with it. I took the left over mushroom mater and dehydrated it. I’m now doing a alcohol extraction with ever clear. My question is since I made tea first then dehydrated it can I steal extract the terrapins? Or did I make a mistake? I heard polysaccharides do not like alcohol which is why I assumed this was the best method? But you are doing the reverse.

    • Dana Says:

      It doesn’t matter which way you extrac the terpenoids vs. polylsaccharides. They will only extract in the menstrua (water or alcohol) that extracts them. So I think you are ok either way. You could still likely brew a second batch of tea and combine it with the alcohol extraction using a modification of my instructions here :).

  6. glomm Says:

    Hello i´am making 2x tincture for about 2 years now.
    But i would like to know if its better to add water extraction to alcohol extraction or to inverse it? (alcohol extraction to water extraction).

    Always i make first alcohol extraction and then i add cool water extraction, but what is bothering me all the time is that when i mix these extractions together it starts to precitipate some white clouds that soon fall to the ground of flask, i think it´s the polysacharides but i´am not sure.

    Any idea here?
    Thanks.

    • Dana Says:

      Glomm,
      I usually do the same (alcohol first then water). The reason I do alcohol first is that if you do water first, then you might set off the water balance in the alcohol. That’s the only reason. I haven’t had the precipitation problem. Precipitation does happen in older tinctures of a variety of kinds, but I haven’t had that problem in newer ones. I am extracting Tsugae, not Lucidium, and I wonder if that matters. I also wonder if you can try a different alcohol.

  7. gogi millner Says:

    I am using fresh Reichi mushrooms and already cut it and put it in jars with Vodka. Since you mentioned that the alcohol content will not be accurately measurable this way do you think adding more vodka at the end of the process would ensure a high enough alcohol content to preserve the tincture?

    Also, I made a fresh tea by boiling (and then filtering) the ends of the mushrooms that attached to the stump and were impossible to clean. How much of this fresh tea should be consumed at a time? Any limits there? It’s very bitter and tastes potent! I will be doling it out by the tablespoon while my alcohol tincture is soaking, since I don’t know how much is beneficial to drink.

    • Dana Says:

      I wouldn’t add more vodka, but you might add some 95% (190 proof) alcohol to preserve it. Or just go ahead and add it to the mushrooms now. The mushrooms typically don’t have *that* much water in them, but getting the ratios right are important.

      Also, the tea is *very* strong, yes. I like to add elderberries and honey to my reishi tea to make it a bit more palatable. Drinking a little each day (what I do is freeze tea and turn it into ice cubes that I then add to things) is what I do :).


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