Making Reishi Mushroom Extract

I recently made a Reishi mushroom double extract with homegrown Reishi. It felt extra special because it was the first time I ever made such an extraction, plus I got to work with mushrooms I grew myself.

Little baby Reishi beginning to grow. Photo: Leela Ehrhart

Simply, a double extract uses both alcohol and water to pull out the medicinal constituents of a plant or mushroom. It involves making a tincture (alcohol extract) and a decoction (simmered water extract), and then combining the two.

I have been particularly pulled towards working with a variety of different medicinal mushrooms for the last year and a half or so. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but I have learned to trust these intuitions I have about what my body needs. I have been cycling through different mushrooms like Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Tremella, Cordyceps, and—you guessed it—Reishi, regularly ever since.

Mature, just-harvested Reishi ready to be dried for use in my extract. Photo: Leela Ehrhart

Mushrooms contain beta-glucans that can help support healthy immune function. Mushrooms are genetically more like us than they are like plants which I think is totally fascinating. They can also uniquely communicate with our gut in ways that are beneficial. As Hippocrates reportedly said “all disease begins in the gut” and supporting gut health as much as possible and in diverse ways really matters. 

Why work with Reishi in particular? Research indicates that it may help relax muscles, improve sleep, support healthy cardiac function, lower LDL cholesterol, ease allergy symptoms, bring some relief from chronic pain, protect against cancer, combat oxidative stress, and more.

The yet-to-be-strained tincture portion of the double extract. Photo: Leela Ehrhart

But for me, growing medicinals like Reishi and making extracts with them is about a lot more than just what kinds of symptoms or ailments they might help me better support myself through.

The act and the process of making plant and mushroom extracts of all kinds—especially out of things I’ve grown—is perhaps in and of itself the best medicine of all. It anchors me in my own power and capacity to both coexist with other beings and provide for myself what it is that I need. No gatekeeping… no need to outsource my agency, or my inner knowing, or my capacity to be well to only who and what society deems as “expert.” It reminds me that I am capable, that I am whole, and that I belong here, even though my experience of the world at large so often feels alien and hostile. It invites me to more fully connect and show up. Very often I find that working with the plants and mushrooms continues to feel like “the next right thing” especially in moments when I’m feeling lost and unsure of what comes next.

The concentrated water portion of the double extract, made by simmering the same mushroom material that was strained out of the tincture. Photo: Leela Ehrhart

And fundamentally these are the same ways in which my herbalism journey continues to help me heal from the effects of SSRI drugs. Sure, physically I am able to support my body well and that is definitely important! But what’s really at the heart of it is the shedding of my own disempowering stories in favor of remembering who and how powerful I really am. Every time I make an herbal extract, another little layer peels away and I remember: I am my own best healer; I am and have always been the medicine that, for such a long time, I so desperately sought everywhere else but right here. The way forward through everything that has ever felt like it would break me beyond my capacity to keep going, has always been within me. It’s within you, too.

And finally, the finished extract, made by combining the alcohol and water extractions together. Since I will take this in doses of only 1-2ml at a time, there is enough here to last a very long while! Photo: Leela Ehrhart

And with that, it’s time for a little Reishi.

Disclaimer: This and all other blog posts are for educational purposes only. Nothing I ever share is medical advice. I am never telling you what to do/take/etc. I am never guaranteeing any specific outcomes or results. I am simply sharing my own experience and offering food for thought. You are the expert of you! It is my sincerest hope that you will feel empowered to do your own research, draw your own conclusions, talk with your own trusted practitioner(s) if you have them, think critically, do whatever else it is that you do to feel confident in caring for yourself, and go from there.

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