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.
Health Benefits of Ganoderma Extract
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!
Ganoderma Extract Recipe
- Dried reishi mushrooms
- Vodka (100 proof)
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.
- Fill a quart or half-gallon canning jar halfway to the top with the dried reishi.
- Add the vodka, filling the jar all the way to the top. Label it with the date and what you’re making.
- Cap the jar, and keep it in a warm area away from the sunlight for 4 to 6 weeks. Try to remember to shake it daily.
- After about a month strain the mixture using cheesecloth, coffee filters, or a strainer. The method you use will depend on the size of your reishi mushroom pieces. Try straining a few times to really remove all the solids.
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…..
Double Your Ganoderma Extract Pleasure
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:
- Take the alcohol-soaked reishi pieces/powder that are left over after straining and put them in a pot. Cover them with water.
- Boil the mixture for 2 hours; the water will reduce quite a bit during this time.
- Allow the tea to cool before you strain it. Discard all solids but save the now reishi-infused water.
- Add this water to an equal amount of the alcohol extract. This gives you a Ganoderma extract that’s 25% alcohol, as the vodka was 100 proof to begin with (50% water/50% alcohol).
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:
- Dosages vary depending on the size of the person and the strength of the tincture. A good standard dosage is 1/2 of a teaspoon taken 2-3x a day.
- This extract will keep much longer than a tea, usually around 2 years.
- Store all extracts in a cool place in dark-colored bottles away from direct sunlight. Light can degrade your tincture.
- An organic tincture can be made with solvents other than vodka. Glycerin, vinegar, grain alcohol, and rum are all other choices. However, glycerin and vinegar don’t store as long and may not be strong enough, while grain alcohol may be too strong. I find vodka works best.
- Use this extract for 3 – 9 months before taking a break from it. Reishi is a very safe herb to take long term.
- Despite all safety, it’s not unusual to experience temporary side effects such as slight body pain, breakouts, dizziness, or digestive issues. You may want to reduce your dose by half for a week until these go away.
- For more information on the health benefits of reishi mushrooms along with documentation of many clinical studies, I’d recommend reading Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder by Terry Willard.
- Ganoderma lucidum is one of the best studied and best used substances in herbal medicine. There’s also a lot of hype and money around it. Use this recipe with some quality organic mushrooms from a good supplier.
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).