In nature, the reishi mushroom is a true natural wonder. This mushroom's gorgeous texture and deep whorls of color makes it look quite unlike most grocery store mushrooms.
With nicknames including "queen of mushrooms" and "mushroom of immortality," it is no wonder that modern-day medical researchers are discovering what ancient traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners have long known. This mushroom packs a powerful health punch!
In this article, learn about reishi mushroom benefits ranging from weight loss and longevity to fighting cancer and liver disease.
Also learn how to take advantage of reishi mushroom health benefits in your own life.
Top 8 Best Reishi Mushroom Vendors
Lost Empire Herbs
What Are Reishi Mushrooms?
Reishi mushroom is a medicinal mushroom that belongs to the genus of fungi called Ganoderma. Also known by its TCM name of Lingzhi mushroom and its scientific name of Ganoderma lucidum, this mushroom contains a number of healthy, beneficial compounds.
In fact, what makes the this mushroom so unique among mushrooms is that it is primarily sought for these healthful compounds, each of which has known medicinal merit, rather than simply as a nutritional staple.
Wild reishi mushrooms prefer to grow near hardwood trees, especially maple trees, but are quite choosy about where they grow. Today, reishi mushrooms are quite rare in the wild. Most are grown in carefully controlled cultivated settings using hardwood logs or even chips of sawdust as a starter medium.
For this reason, most reishi mushroom supplements use cultivated reishi rather than wild reishi.
What Are the Benefits of the Reishi Mushroom?
The reishi mushroom is one of just three mushrooms that are used primarily for their medicinal benefits (the other two are shiitake and maitake).
In order for a mushroom to be deemed primarily medicinal, it must contain a high proportion of molecules and bioactive compounds known generally as "adaptogens." Another word for adaptogen is aid.
As an adaptogen, the compounds present in the reishi mushroom are able to aid the body to rebalance affected systems, restore proper functioning, heal and even resist future health threats.
This mushroom contains more than 200 different known adaptogens, including important aids to the human body's immune system.
How Can You Use Reishi Mushroom for Health?
Unless you are a biologist or health researcher, you probably want to get right to it.
How can you use Reishi mushroom to improve your health, strengthen your body, look and feel better and protect yourself against future harm? Let's find out!
1. Support Healing From Diabetes
Reishi mushroom's adaptogenic properties can also help the body to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Health expert Dr. Josh Axe cited an exciting research study showing that the mushroom had an anti-diabetic impact on laboratory mice.
Mice given reishi supplements were able to lower blood sugar and increase insulin at the same time, pointing to reishi as a potential alternative therapy for diabetic treatment.
2. Improve Liver Health
One of reishi mushroom's most important benefits is to improve liver health and function and possibly prevent liver disease. This is called a "hepatoprotective effect."
In one exciting study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), laboratory mice with liver damage were able to make use of reishi supplements to restore liver function.
3. Reduce Inflammation
Noted health expert Dr. Andrew Weil traces many surface symptoms, such as skin eruptions, rashes, dryness and signs of aging, back to underlying systemic inflammation.
Research to date shows that reishi combats inflammation by targeting a class of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. This points to use of reishi to combat various health conditions linked to inflammation, including cancer.
4. Reduce the Risk of Viral, Bacterial or Fungal Illness
Reishi mushroom includes natural anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Taking reishi can be particularly protective during cold and flu season and during outbreaks of disease such as swine flu and avian flu.
The active compound triterpenes, for example, can protect the body against viral, bacterial, fungal and other pathogens.
5. Support Lower "Bad" Cholesterol?
Reishi's impact on lowering "bad" cholesterol was one of the first benefits to be investigated by modern western health researchers.
Studies showed that the active compounds triterpenes are able to a achieve a lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol and reduce the probability of clogged arteries in laboratory animals.
6. Boost Cardiac Function
One class of reishi adaptogens called triterpenes are known to improve overall cardiovascular function and possibly reduce the risk of heart disease.
7. Support Longevity
Some of the most recent studies on human longevity indicate that people are continuing to live longer lives, to the point where reaching three digits is an increasingly realistic aim.
Of course, this has also increased interest in anti-aging in equal measure, which has brought reishi into the spotlight once again for a new reason.
It's various protective properties, which range from boosting immune system response to repelling inflammation and oxidation, supporting healthy cells and circulation, improving liver function and protecting the heart, each relate to an improved longevity forecast.
Reishi has empirically-supported benefits that are known to assist in increased longevity.
How to Take Reishi Mushroom Supplements
Reishi is classified as a medicinal mushroom rather than a nutritional mushroom. The bitter taste of reishi makes it more suitable as a supplement, since most people do not prefer the taste.
However, some people do like the bitter taste and woodsy texture of reishi - the best way to find out is to just to give it a try. Reishi mushroom can be eaten raw or cooked.
Reishi powder can also be added to some strongly-flavored savory dishes to good effect, especially if the dish has an overall bitter, spicy or sour flavor.
One review of available research literature returned data to support intake of 2 to 9 grams per day in powder, tea, extract, capsule or other form.
The most common Reishi supplements include powder, capsule, tea, coffee or tincture (liquid). Some commercial supplements combine reishi with other ingredients in energy drinks, tea/coffee or cocoa mixes, elixirs and more.
Until you are sure how you react to reishi, it can be wise to start taking reishi on its own rather than combining it with other ingredients. Always start with the lowest dose recommended by your health practitioner or the manufacturer and then you can increase as needed or desired.
NOTE: If you are pregnant, trying to conceive, lactating or under a doctor's care for a serious medical condition, it is always smart to talk with your physician before adding anything new to your daily health regimen, including reishi mushroom.
Does Reishi Help You Sleep?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly half of adults say they struggle to get enough sleep and high quality sleep.
Poor sleep impairs your body's ability to repair itself and replenish its reserves. When you don't get enough good sleep at night, it is inevitable that your health will suffer.
Reishi mushroom's adaptogen properties become critical when stress is involved, as it nearly always is with lack of sleep. Because reishi can help your body adapt and lower stress levels, it produces a calming (but not sedating) effect to combat insomnia.
Does Reishi Mushroom Help With Weight Loss?
Researchers who study reishi's impact on the human gut and systemic inflammation have discovered that this mushroom may be able to help the body naturally shed extra weight.
Reishi has a natural prebiotic effect, assisting the gut microbiome to favor weight reduction. But it's natural anti-inflammatory properties also played a part in helping with weight loss and weight management.
Laboratory mice who were given reishi supplements were able to successfully reduce fat deposits in key areas throughout the body. This ability to shed stored fat were up to 59 percent amplified in the reishi-supplemented mice.
Can It Help You Detoxify?
Reishi mushroom can help the whole body detoxify, but has particular benefits for major organs, including the liver and heart.
As it's adaptogenic properties boost digestive and liver function, this then aids the body to identify and transport toxins out efficiently and effectively.
Reishi's anti-inflammatory benefits can also improve circulatory function and support blood detoxification on a systemic level.
How Does It Affect Your Immune System?
Reishi is cited as one of just a handful of mushrooms (out of more than 10,000 known varietals) that can improve the immune system response.
The breakdown of the body's immune function, a condition called immunesenescence, can be successfully combatted by the many bioactive compounds contained in reishi.
In some cases, such as with shingles outbreaks, research also shows that this medicinal mushroom can specifically target immune system breakdowns related to an aging immune system.
Will Reishi Protect You from Cancer?
Reishi mushroom has known neuro-protective properties, including potent antioxidants and beta-glucan polysaccharides.
Research studies to date indicate the mushroom can be helpful in fighting cancer on multiple levels, including as a preventative agent.
During cancer treatment, research indicates reishi has the ability to ease some of the side effects of drug treatment (chemotherapy) and improve the impact of cancer medications, especially for ovarian, colorectal and lung cancer.
Will It Improve My Digestion?
Because reishi itself is a unique type of prebiotic, a dietary fiber source that helps nourish beneficial gut bacteria, taking reishi will provide immediate support to the gut microbiome.
This beneficial effect made news headlines when researchers identified two particular bacteria strains in the gut, firmicutes and bacteroidetes, that were altered in beneficial ways to promote gut health and weight management.
In this article, you have learned about so many benefits of reishi mushroom as well as different ways to add it to your daily health regimen.
You have your choice of ways to take reishi, from drinks to powders, capsules or in fresh raw or cooked form. You don't have to do them all - just pick the one that appeals to you most and give it a try.
Our Top Rated Reishi Supplement
Four Sigmatic - Reishi Elixer
When consumed in continuous, small doses, reishi has been shown to support the body’s sleep cycles as well as support occasional stress.
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Shannon is a freelance writer and author of three books. Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that provide readers with practical, actionable tools to make healthy life choices.