The Cultivation of Red Reishi
Our best selling product so far, Instant Reishi, has received a lot of attention lately amongst people all over the world. I have received a myriad of Reishi related comments from many different countries, and the gist of them is pretty much the same - Your Instant Reishi is the most effective reishi product I have ever tried. How do you do that?
Since there are quite a lot of people wondering why our products are so effective, we decided to let the cat out of the bag, and tell openly “our secret” to everyone;
We focus on quality
It truly is that simple. By using the best possible cultivation method, choosing the highest quality ingredients, developing recipes that have synergistic properties, keeping an eye on the whole manufacturing process, and selecting potent extracts we have managed to create products that really work.
In case of Reishi, for instance, it means that we have decided to use only the red Reishi, which is arguably the best strain of all the different (red, black, blue, white, yellow, purple) Reishi mushrooms. It has a great number of scientific research, the highest content of polysaccharides, which are the key elements of health effects of Reishi, and even historical writings are most often talking specifically about red Reishi.
We have intensively studied different cultivation methods and chosen the best option for us. And yes, we use cultivated Reishi, not wildcrafted as research has shown that the health-enhancing properties of Reishi are strongest when the plant is fully mature. In the wild Reishi hardly never gets fully mature due to the unstable conditions of environment that exist in the natural surroundings of Reishi plants.
Four methods of cultivation
Rice mass, Wood pulp, wooden box, and natural wood log cultivation are four common methods of cultivating the Reishi plant.
Rice based cultivation is getting more and more common especially in the West as it is the easiest and the cheapest way to cultivate Reishi. Reishi fungi and some fertilizers are added into the nutrient-poor white rice mass. This is what I like to call “factory farming of Reishi” – trying to get as much quantity as possible with the least possible effort no matter what.
In wood pulp cultivation, wood pulp along with Reishi fungi are placed in a glass bottle. Even though this growing method is lightyears ahead of rice mass cultivation, it still yields small mushrooms of relatively poor quality. In wood box cultivation, which is again a bit better in terms of quality, involves grafting the fungi into a wooden log that is then placed in a wooden box. Medium size and moderate quality Reishi are generally produced through this method after six months.
Large Reishi of superior quality are usually grown using the natural wood log method, which is the most complex form of cultivation. The process begins with the culturing of a high quality Reishi fungus strain in test tubes for about 85 days. A high quality germinated Reishi fungus strains are inserted into holes drilled into high grade logs between 26 to 30 years old. These logs are then placed in a greenhouse and buried under natural soil for 5 months. The Reishi fungi absorb almost all of the nutrients from the soil during this time, which means that after five years of use, the soil must lay unused for at least 2 years before it can be used again. This allows replenishment of nutrients back into the soil.
Growing conditions require continued monitoring to ensure a high quality Reishi harvest. Temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, light intensity and nutrients are all closely monitored to maintain optimum growth conditions. The greenhouse is sprayed with moisture daily to stimulate growth and maintain an optimum humidity.
The mushrooms are grown for approximately another 3 months until they mature and reach their full size. After some time, the mushrooms produce a thick coating of spores. The spraying is stopped when the mushrooms release their spores into the air. After that the Reishi grow additional two weeks before harvesting.
Large size, thick cap and overall weight are the signs of healthy and mature Reishi plants. It is true that Reishi mushrooms grow larger with age, but they are at their best when they are fresh and moist inside. Older plants may be larger in size, but they are also usually too dry to be effective enough.
To prepare Reishi for use in health products, the mushrooms are cut into small pieces and boiled for three hours. This boiling process is repeated three times to extract all the medicinal properties of the mushroom. After the boiling the mushroom extract is air-sprayed drier to transform the concentrated liquid to a instant powder form. In a nutshell this is how high quality Reishi is produced.
With a few rare exceptions, China and Japan are the only countries cultivating truly high quality Reishi in the world, and we are committed to producing our Reishi products in Asia until standards for Reishi cultivation in the West rises. A lot.
A recent Food Marketing Institute (FMI) report indicated 71% of shoppers are “very/extremely” concerned about products from China. “Yes, there is especially a healthy skepticism about herbs from India and China. This is unfortunate as both countries produce the lowest and highest quality botanicals in the world. The real problem is not with India and China as countries of origin for botanicals but the ignorance of U.S. manufacturers shopping for the cheapest materials or not knowing how to discern Ayurvedic and Chinese herb quality,” said AHPs’ Mr. Upton. (Source: International Botanical Trends 2012)
The quote above is the very reason why we have a presence in Asia and meet our local partners as often as possible; at the end of the day the quality is all that matters. We want to know, see, and get involved in how our products are grown and processed, and thereby ensure they are the highest possible quality. If you have ever done a proper business with the Chinese, you know, that building a strong Guanxi with the local partners is the single most important activity you can do here.