A Ganoderma extract is a tincture made from distilling the medicinal reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) in alcohol. An extract is more potent than a tea and lasts much longer.
There are many reported health benefits of reishi mushrooms. Some come from steroid-like molecules called triterpenes. Triterpenes inhibit histamine release, have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, and help protect the liver.
Sounds great, right? Well, the downside is that it can be quite expensive. It's not unusual to see 2 ounces selling for $25 or more. For roughly the same cost, you can make a lot more of your own reishi mushroom extract. It's easy and fun!
When purchasing liquor the term proof refers to double the alcohol content. Thus 100 proof vodka contains 50% alcohol. Most vodka is 80 proof, so read the label before you buy.
The purpose of the alcohol is to extract molecules, not to go down smooth. Don't spend a lot of money on fancy vodka when the cheap stuff works just fine here. Think more "college party", less "trying to impress my date".
I bought 1.75 liters of 100 proof Zhenka for about $15, enough to make organic tinctures for months!
If purchasing whole reishi mushrooms, you'll need to break them into the smallest pieces possible. This creates a larger surface area and allows you to perform a more thorough extraction.
Dried Ganoderma lucidum is one tough mushroom and breaking it apart is easier than it sounds. If you can't do it by hand or slice thinly with a knife, try using a blender, coffee grinder, or meat grinder. Be careful, as large chunks will damage your appliance. Another easy solution is to just buy pre-sliced or powdered reishi.
Hooray! You've made a Ganoderma extract. Store the tincture in dark-colored bottles out of direct sunlight. If you really want to get crazy you can.....
A double reishi mushroom extract contains healthful compounds removed with both hot water and alcohol. The tincture you just made has the alcohol-soluble triterpenes, the molecules responsible for reishi's anti-inflammatory action. But what about its immune system enhancing properties?
Immune system benefits come from polysaccharides, complex carbohydrates that are soluble in water, not alcohol. It's easy to add these molecules to your organic tincture:
You may need to do some measuring before you boil the water to make sure you have enough. Gauge the amount of liquid used in your first alcohol tincture and boil at least triple that amount of water for the hot water extraction. It may seem like a lot but it will reduce (you can always keep boiling if it doesn't).
Keep these things in mind when making a Ganoderma extract:
Note that this mushroom tincture recipe also works with other woody medicinal mushrooms such as the true tinder polypore (Fomitopsis officinalis) and the artist's conk (Ganoderma applanatum).