For the past 25 + years I have been enjoying nature in the Berkshires. One of the main attractions for me to move to the Berkshires after college was the beauty of the natural surroundings. I felt the pull of the forest from the beginning. Before I had a dog of my own, I would borrow friends’ dogs and explore the trails around me. Over the years, it has become my habit to venture out every day with my dogs to hike the woods and hills. Long before the idea of “forest bathing” became popular, I was a participant.
In Japan, the practice known as shinrin-yoku is decades old and means “taking in the forest.” Among the benefits, say practitioners and some researchers, are relaxation, less stress, connections with nature, and there is growing scientific evidence that getting outside in a natural setting is good for mind-body health.
To me, forest bathing means slowing down and becoming immersed in the natural environment. Tuning into the smells, textures, tastes and sights of the forest using all your senses. Forest bathing is an act of meditation, allowing me to be here, not there.
When I am walking in the woods, I love looking at the plants. I often notice mushrooms with incredible colors and textures. A few years ago while looking for an immune support in the coop I noticed many of the tinctures listed Red Reishi as a main ingredient. After doing some research, I found that Reishi is known as the “King of Mushrooms” filled with polysaccharides and beta-glucans that are known to help support healthy immune function. Little did I know, I had been taking photos of these mushrooms without knowing what they were. I became fascinated with medicinal mushrooms and started learning more about them. I harvested some Reishi and made a double extraction tincture for myself.
Several other mushrooms have caught my attention over the years and they include:
Chaga is a nutrient dense superfood used for slowing the aging process, lowering cholesterol and fighting cancer to name a few. Chaga grows on birch trees in the Northern Hemisphere. I have been lucky enough to find Chaga while hiking through the woods.
Turkey Tail is used to boost the immune system, fight cancers, and improve gut bacteria balance. Turkey tail is abundant in our woods and I look forward to harvest time.
Lion’s Mane is on my list to find in the woods. Lion’s Mane is said to help speed recovery from nervous system injuries. It is thought to relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety, and could protect against dementia.
As “Devine” grows in concept and reality, I am looking to these amazing mushrooms as part of our health and wellness panel. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy my forest bathing experiences and keep my eyes peeled for these amazing medicinals that surround us.
In Health, Heidi