Including Mushrooms in your Daily Life: Recipe 1

It is easy enough to read and write about the research that has been done on medicinal mushrooms, but what is one supposed to do with this new found knowledge? What if you don’t have time to make a dual extract, or it feels too hot out to drink a hot mushroom tea. There are many ways to include mushrooms into daily life that do not involve imbibing a tea or taking a tincture. As it is now Fall and the weather will start to get colder, people are more susceptible to viruses. A person who uses mushrooms throughout their days will be more resilient during these cooler and darker months, and really, the whole year. The medicinal polypore mushrooms that I usually write about are deemed ‘inedible’ in most ID books. To an extent, this is true, in that you are not going to fry them up and eat them like a Shitake or Matsutake, but there are definitely ways to consume them, and benefit from their medicinal qualities. This is the first recipe I’ll be posting, but stay tuned for more throughout the next few months.

Immune Boosting Oatmeal

oats

Beta-Glucans Galore!

For 1 large Serving

Ingredients

1/2 C Oatsrei

1 C Water or pre-made *Mushroom decoction

1 Tbs Mushroom powder (Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Maine) – available at Dandelionbotanical.com

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp Turmeric

1 Tbs maple syrup, honey, or mushroom infused honey! (made by chopping up polypore mushroom into the smallest pieces possible, filling up a jar half way, pouring raw honey over the mushrooms, and letting sit for 1 month or more)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients accept sweetener in pot over high heat. When boiling begins, turn down heat to a simmer.
  2. let simmer for a few minutes until oats are fully cooked and then drizzle maple syrup or honey.
  3. Add fruit, seeds, nuts, milk, yogurt, whatever you love!
  4. Enjoy and know you are keeping your immune system strong and healthy.

*Mushroom decoction: 1 Handful chopped mushrooms placed in pot or crockpot. Pour 4 cups of water over mushrooms, and simmer until the brew is decocted by half…this means that there will now be 2 cups left. You can test this by using a chopstick – Mark the chopstick where the water begins, and then dip the chopstick in intermittently to see when the brew hits half – Strain out the mushrooms and either drink the decoction as tea, or place in fridge for use in smoothies, oatmeal, broths, porridge, rice, beans, and stews.

A note on beta-glucans and the Immune System

Fungal Cell Wall Components

gunal

“Chitin, Chitinase Responses, and Invasive Fungal Infections : Figure 1.”Chitin, Chitinase Responses, and Invasive Fungal Infections : Figure 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2015. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijmicro/2012/920459/fig1/

Beta Glucans are polysaccharides (carbohydrates) found in the cell walls of Yeast, Fungi, Algae, Lichens, and some plants, such as Oats and Barley. Together, with Chitin, they make up the fungal cell wall. B-glucans are biological response modifiers. This means that they cause no harm and place no additional stress on the body while helping the body to adapt to certain biological and environmental stressors. They support major systems such as the nervous, hormonal and immune system. You may have heard of adaptogens, this is a very similar definition.

Research shows that Beta-glucans have a hypoglycemic, cholesterol lowering, immune-stimulating and immune-modulating, and anti-tumor effect on animals. 1,2,4

Beta-glucans are made up of hemicellulose, which is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is water-soluble and forms a viscous water layer in the gut. This viscous layer in the small intestine decreases absorption of sugars and lipids into the blood stream. (hence, the hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic effect). Beta glucans from fungi reduced overall level of cholesterol and LDL in blood, as well as decreased the level of free fatty acids, while at the same time increasing HDL cholesterol. The sugars also increase the amount of Leptin – a protein like substance produced by fat cells that plays a role in hunger and satiety, which suggests their use as an agent to help with weight loss.

Beta-glucans are resistant to stomach acid and so they move through the GI, into the small intestines pretty much unchanged. The cells in the lining of the small intestine, the enterocytes, facilitate the transportation of the Beta-glucans into the lymph where the macrophages are waiting with open arms (Dectin-1 receptor sites). Like a key, they unlock the macrophages and activate them to travel back to the lymph nodes to induce immune activations. Once activated, it starts to produce bactericidal compounds such as reactive oxygen radical, N-oxide, and lysozyme. These activated cells also produce cytokines, which then activate phagocytes and leukocytes in specific immunity. B-glucans also play a role in promoting the activity of helper lymphocytes known as Th1 and Th2. Th1 controls immunity against intracellular parasites, while Th2 controls immunity against extracellular pathogens. When there is an imbalance in these lymphocytes, an autoimmune response can occur. Beta glucans help keep this balance.

Antitumor action: The antitumor action happens via activation of the immune response, explained earlier. They do not attack cancer cells directly, but produce their antitumor effects by activating different immune responses in the host. They potentiate the response of precursor T cells and macrophages to cytokines produced by lymphocytes after specific recognition of tumor cells. In summary, the tumor cells are attacked by the immune system, which is activated by macrophages bound with Beta glucans.

Work Cited

  1. Rahar, Sandeep, Gaurav Swami, Navneet Nagpal, Manisha A. Nagpal, and Gagan Shah Singh. “Preparation, Characterization, and Biological Properties of β-glucans.” Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research. Medknow Publications Pvt Ltd, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
  1. S., Wasser. “Medicinal Mushrooms as a Source of Antitumor and Immunomodulating Polysaccharides.” Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 60.3 (2002): 258-74. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
  1. Ferreira, Isabel C.f.r., Josiana A. Vaz, M. Helena Vasconcelos, and Anabela Martins. “Compounds from Wild Mushrooms with Antitumor Potential.” Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry10.5 (2010): 424-36. Web.
  2. Rop, Otakar, Jiri Mlcek, and Tunde Jurikova. “Beta-glucans in Higher Fungi and Their Health Effects.” Nutrition Reviews67.11 (2009): 624-31. Web.

The Snow Flower

Sarcodes Sanguinae

(Resembling Flesh, Blood Red)

Snow Plant or Snow Flower

Family: Ericaceae (Madrone family) Sub-Family: Monotropoideae (Indian Pipe family)

snow flower

The Snow Flower. Back in the day, when it still snowed in Tahoe, and the pine-needled humus would have a layer of snow in the Spring, I would look forward to this brilliant red being that would erect from the earth surface. The snow is mild now, but this crimson beauty still comes up, yet the contrast against the white of the snow is missed. A fitting plant to talk about on this blog being that although it is a plant, it is a saprophytic plant, getting its nutrients from the mycorrhizal fungi rather than partaking in photosynthesis, as green leaved plants do. The Snow Flower is most often seen near conifers, Ponderosa Pine, Jefferey Pine, Sugar Pine, etc. It is found here because it can’t live without them – a very one-sided and secretive connection. It is not directly parasitic to the tree, but it feeds on the trees relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. The fungi and the conifer have a mutualistic relationship; the fungus provides minerals and other earthly delights for the tree, while the tree provides sugars for the fungus – the Snow flower then gets it’s nutrients from this fungi.

snow plant

John Muir writes of Sarcodes in 1912:

“The snow plant is more admired by tourists than any other in California. It is red, fleshy and watery and looks like a gigantic asparagus shoot. Soon after the snow is off the ground it rises through the dead needles and humus in the pine and fir woods like a bright glowing pillar of fire. In a week or so it grows to a height of eight or twelve inches with a diameter of an inch and a half or two inches ,then its long fringed bracts curl aside, allowing the twenty or thirty five lobed, bell-shaped flowers to pen and look straight out from the axis. It is said to grow up through the snow on the contrary, it always waits until the ground is warm, though with other early flowers it is occasionally buried or half buried for a day or two by spring storms. The entire plant-flowers, bracts, stems, scales, and roots-is fiery red. Its color could appeal to one’s blood. Nevertheless, it is a singularly cold and unsympathetic plant. Everybody admires it as a wonderful curiosity, but nobody loves it as lilies, violets, roses, daisies are loved. Without fragrance it stands beneath the pines and firs lonely and silent, as if unacquainted with any other plant in the world; never moving the wildest storms; rigid as if lifeless, through covered with beautiful rosy flowers.”

In the New York Medical Eclectic, Volume 6, Issue 10 (1879):

“The Sow Plant, a Flower of Strange Beauty.

One of the Grandest objects which meets the eye of the traveler in our mountains is the exquisite plant, the Snow Plant of the Sierras-the Sarcodes sanguinea of John Torrey, the botanist. It is an inhabitant only to the higher Sierras, being rarely found below an altitude of 4,000 feet, and its glorious crimson spike of flowers may be seen early in May, forcing itself through the snows which at that period cling about the sides of our pine forests. The portion of this plant which is visible above the soil is bright rosy crimson in color and presents the very strongest contrast to the dark green of the pines shimmer of the snow. Its root is succulent, thick, and abundantly free of moisture, attaching itself to the roots of other plants, principally to the species of the pine family…the Deer are exquisitely fond of it, and it is not an uncommon circumstance to find a number of the plants uprooted and robbed of the fleshy part of their underground growth…”

Food and Medicine

I have always been told, since I was a child, to not mess with the Snow Flower. I never knew why exactly, in fact I thought maybe it was poisonous. The real reason is that it only grows around the Sierras and it is a rare and protected plant – although I will talk about its history of use as food and medicine, it would be wise to pocket this information for your own edification and choose a different plant for these uses, that is not as rare.

The Snow Flower, is in fact edible and can be cooked like asparagus.

I can deduce from the ethnobotanical uses that it has an analgesic effect as well as soothing epithelial tissues. There is documentation of a decoction of the leaves and stem to treat ulcerated sores, irritated skin, and toothaches. The docterine of signatures would suggest its use as a blood tonic, and a decoction has been used in this way. Some Native Americans also dried and powdered this plant to relieve toothaches and other mouth pains.

How to Make Amadou Mushroom Felt

Fomes fomentarius

(Tinder, Used for Tinder)

Tinder polypore, False tinder polypore, Amadou, Iceman fungus, Hoof fungus, Hoof Conk, Tsuriganetabe

Distribution

Where there is Birch, there is F. fomentarius. North-Eastern United States, Alaska, Northern Mainland Europe. Found on Hardwoods.

There is usually only one or two fruiting bodies found per tree. It is a perennial, parasitic mushroom. Each layer of tubing represents a new year of growth. The thin crust is striped with various shades of grey, while the flesh is dark golden-brown, and the pore surface is pale grey to white. The flesh of the fruiting body is also known as the trauma layer. It is this trauma layer that is used as a natural gauze, tinder, and amadou felt.

Spore print – pale yellow

Ethnobotanical Uses

Amadou, derived from a Northern French dialect, meaning “amorous”, or “inflames life”. This meaning is exemplified in the mushrooms historical use as tinder. This word also translates to the english word, spunk, meaning courage, bravery or determination, originally meant spark. (Spunk is a combination of spark and funk). Interestingly, the fungal essence is used for the burnt out artist, to help them get their spark back.

A 5000 year old Iceman, Otzi, was found with this polypore. In 1991 hikers found his preserved remains in a glacier in the Otzal Alps between Austria and Italy. It is thought that he was carrying this mushroom to preserve fire, use as insect repellent, and as his first aid kit.

The name, Fomes fomentarius means, “to use as tinder”. It is extremely flammable, but has a nice slow burn, perfect for long travels through the mountains. Additionally, and a perk for the insect-loved traveler, the smoke produced by the burning of this mushroom works as an excellent insect repellent. In addition to flame and insect deterrent, this mushroom is a powerful hemostat.

There is documentation of Hippocrates using F. fomentarius as a styptic in the fifth century BC. Also used as a styptic by surgeons, barbers and dentists, giving it the name “agaric of the surgeons”.  There is also note of the Okanagan-Olville native Americans using this as a styptic, a wound dressing, and a cauterizing agent. They would place a piece of the softened amadou layer over the affected area and ignite. This amadou layer was also used as a wound dressing and styptic throughout Europe. In a German speaking Alpine area in Europe, where this mushroom was called Wundschwamm, F. fomentarius was sold in pharmacies in the form of styptic bandages. While carving the mushroom’s crust off to expose this styptic layer of amadou, I sliced my finger with a serrated knife and there was heavy bleeding. I quickly wrapped a piece of the amadou around my finger. My finger stopped bleeding within minutes, and the amadou stayed on my finger as a nice bandage.

mushroom bandage

This mushroom was also used in ritual smoking ceremonies, in Germany and Austria, and by the Khanty people in West Siberia. They would burn the fruiting bodies to obtain smoke when a person died. The smoke would burn as to avoid any influence of the deceased on the living. This smoke has also been used similar to moxibustion. The ignited mushroom is placed over different parts of the body to warm the meridians, helping with the movement of blood and qi.

Currently studied as a treatment for esophagus, gastric and uterine carcinoma. Recent research shows distinct antibiotic activity against Bacillus subtillis and staphylococcus aureus with antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus.

Also, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities have been documented.

 

How to make the Amadou 

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The layers of F. fomentarius
IMG_0096
Cross Section of F. fomentarius
Materials

Sharp serrated carving knife

Cutting board

Hammer, ideally wide headed, like a Leatherman’s hammer

Hammering surface

Washing Soda Solution (sodium carbonate)

Instructions
  1. Cut off the crust of the mushroom

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This is done carefully with a sharp knife, serrated works well. You want to be careful here to not cut off too much of the trauma layer.

  1. Cut the off the tubes*

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This is done by making deep cuts in the tubes and then cracking them apart, and peeling them away from the trauma layer, careful to not peel too much of the trauma layer off with them. Remaining tubes can be cut away with a knife.

3. Soak trauma layer over night to a week in washing soda solution, or boil for at least 20 minutes

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  1. Pound damp trauma layer

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5. Soak again, pound again, and repeat until desired thickness reached.

6. Let the amadou felt (trauma layer) dry out, and use, as you like!

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Don’t throw away the mushroom parts that have been removed from the trauma layer. Simmer these in water and drink as an immune boosting tea, or use the tubes as a candlewick.

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Resources for Amadou products:

everythingmushrooms.com

Resource for F. Fomentarius mushrooms:

aksourdough@hotmail.com