The thick humidity of this past Thursday night was only tempered by the beautiful sunset at dusk that night at the lively Fondren after 5 event in Jackson, MS. The moon was steadily filling up preparing for tonight’s SUPERMOON (and meteor shower). An assortment of live bands, food vendors, live art, and artisans splashed the mundane urban setting with vitality for a flash of a moment. This monthly event happens on the first Thursday of every month, starting at 5 pm.
I drove up with all our herbal preparations with my friend Lorrin of Wanderite at the active encouragement of the event’s organizer. We had a good time talking to new folks, seeing people we normally see at farmer’s markets, and meeting a host of new people. It was a lively mix of people and gave me a flutter of inspiration of what Mississippi’s creative community can create when we band together.
I’m always intrigued by the people I’ll meet at a market or vending location. I’ve heard all kinds of things by now… As well, it always fascinates me how people approach the table with its many assorted bottles and packages of herbal goodness.
Some people just walk up and say “what is all this” or “tell me about what you’ve got here” ~ at which I take the time to explain. While others, who are a bit more fearful of something new, try to put us in some kind of box that they can relate to. They will sometimes make statements that are cynical or make some attempt to joke about all that is before them to ease their discomfort.
These experiences have really taught me the art of not-knowing and how curiosity and open-mindedness are the right medicine for embarking in the unknown. I can definitely see pieces of me reflected in each of them and know that I, too, have approached the unknown in closed-off ways. These interactions are always a reminder to me that, in my personal life and means of inquiry, I will learn a lot more if I allow myself to be vulnerable and just ask.
With that said, sometimes I get surprises while at market. I HAVE to share about my medicinal mushroom fairy. Reishi is one of my favorite herbs to work with. And, I feel that it has interesting ways to seek me out. One way is through a man, appropriately named Ray, who brings them to me at market when they pop up in his yard.
He actually has both species of Ganoderma in his yard. One, G. lucidum (not pictured) grows out of the decaying roots of a Sweet Gum tree that had been chopped down in his yard (this species likes to grow on an assortment of hardwoods, commonly oak). The other, preferring hemlocks, certain other evergreens, and sometimes oak, was growing near a pine (he thinks). That is the mushroom pictured.
Medicinal mushrooms are some of the safest herbs to work with. They work best over long periods of time, 6 months to a year. To me, they are the essence of what it means for an herb to be “tonic” to the system. They support cellular function, they protect cells from radiation and cancerous growths, and they convert old material into new life and new growth.
Most medicinal mushrooms are a polypore, meaning that they don’t have gills underneath, they have small pores. They are typically more fibrous and woody, almost. When I break a Reishi open, it’s as if the mushroom sucked the very woody essence out of the tree into its own fruiting body. It has taken decomposition of the tree and composed the dying tree into its living form.
Medicinal mushrooms tend to have very similar medicinal affects on the body. They are blood sugar balancing (a great adjunct therapy for diabetics), anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, protective of the cells (and safe for chemotherapy patients), and immuno-modulating (meaning they raise the bar of the adaptive immune system, so they are safe for those with auto-immune disorders).
To ingest medicinal mushrooms, you can take them in pill form, powder form, tincture form (double extraction only), and/or decoction (long-simmered ‘tea’ of at least 2 hours). I suggest the decoction when you are able.
At the apothecary, we use Reishi in our Restore & Repair formula and our Respiratory Relief formula. When in stock, we also make a Triple Mushroom Elixir of Turkey Tail, Reishi, and Maitake.
Some other sources for medicinal mushroom preparations are:
And FINALLY, I’d like to share with you some announcements and up-coming events! Hope to see you soon!
*** We have just a HANDFUL of spots left in our Herbal CSA (Community Supported Apothecary). Find out more here and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
*** Join us in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC to press cider, go on herb walks, and learn basic herbal preparation techniques! We’ll be in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet (with hot springs just down the road and leaves turning their first rusty colors of fall)! Find out more here. We have two lodge rooms left (one Queen/twin room, one full-size room) and a couple camping spots left.
Other important dates ~
Sept 24, Wed ~ 5:30-7:30 pm ~ An Evening with Herbalist Phyllis D Light in Starkville, MS
Sept 28, Sun ~ 3-5 pm ~ Fall Plant Walk at the MS Modern Homestead Center in Starkville, MS with Lindsay
October 10-12 ~ Lindsay will be teaching a couple workshops at the 10th Annual SE Women’s Herbal Conference in Black Mountain, NC