Reishi has been one of the most highly valued functional mushrooms in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Its first mention is in Chinese medical literature, where it is reverently called “the elixir of life” and the “mushroom of immortality”.
Its Chinese name, Ling Zhi, means divine mushroom or spiritual powerhouse herb, which is a reference to the adaptogenic nature and the touted benefits of reishi mushroom powder. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), reishi is known as the “three-treasure” herb, which balances the jing (vital forces), qi (energy), and shen (spirit).
Thus, the mushroom is also symbolic of success, happiness, sacred power, and longevity. Modern scientific studies have identified a diverse array of bioactive compounds responsible for the benefits of the reishi mushrooms that are prized so highly in Eastern medicine. Researchers have isolated hundreds of polysaccharide and triterpene compounds from reishi.
Polysaccharides have been shown to both activate and modulate the immune system – acting as support and counterbalance. Triterpenes demonstrate adaptogenic effects, supporting blood pressure control, helping regulate mood, and soothing allergies and inflammation. Reishi has also been reported to support endocrine functioning and hormonal balance.
Quick Overview of Reishi
Reishi has been one of the best known and highly respected staples in the medicine of many Eastern cultures for nearly 2000 years. Known for its kidney-shaped caps and lustrous, reddish-brown tone, reishis formal taxonomic name, Ganoderma lucidum, is derived from the Greek root gano, meaning “brightness, lustre”, derma, or “skin”, and lucidum, meaning “glow”.
The mushroom usually grows on rotting hardwood trees in temperate forest regions in Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States. It can reach up to eight inches in diameter.
Reishi mushrooms are 90% water, 10% solid. They provide the macronutrients: protein, complex carbohydrates, and small amounts of fat. Rich in minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese, reishi also provides important trace minerals. In addition, researchers have identified approximately 400 bioactive compounds, which include polysaccharides, triterpenoids, nucleotides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids, and proteins/peptides. Wild reishi is incredibly rare; thus, it was once reserved for emperors and kings.
Fortunately, mycologists have been successful in breeding powerful, bioavailable forms of this useful mushroom on nutrient-dense substrates such as organic oats. Available in several forms, including certified organic powders and convenient capsules, reishi has a mildly bitter flavor, but can be mixed in warm and cold drinks, or creative recipes. It may be consumed any time of day.
Benefits of Reishi Mushroom Powder for Health and Wellness
Reishis benefits are varied and broad-ranging, thanks to the abundance of its bioactive compounds. These include the beta-glucan polysaccharide and the triterpenes.
Supports the Immune System
Keeping the immune system healthy is a proactive, preventative strategy. Polysaccharide compounds found in reishi mushrooms are beneficial to your immune system in several ways.
By activating immune cells like macrophages and T-helper cells, reishi influences cell-to-cell immunity. As a stimulant for increased immunoglobulin levels, reishi also influences humoral immunity. In this way, reishi contributes to the bodys protection from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, supporting an increased immune response. An overactive immune system may lead to allergic reactions and inflammation. Reishi helps down-regulate your immune system, avoiding these overreactions if it is appropriate.
Provides Adaptogenic Effects
Reishi is revered in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a major adaptogen of Chinese medicine. Adaptogens are naturally occurring substances that help your body to override and adapt to physical, chemical, and biological stress factors. Through actions including mediation, down-regulation, and up-regulation, bioactive compounds in reishi work together to support your body’s response to stress. Reishi is highly valued for supporting the endocrine system, particularly the adrenal cortex, helping balance levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Helps Reduce Anxiety
Find more consistent, longer-term focus by supplementing reishi mushroom. It can help restore balance and serenity, which will encourage a more restful nights sleep.
This benefit is particularly useful when dealing with the effects of a hectic, stressful day. Here’s a study diving into everything in detail.
Provides Powerful Antioxidants
Antioxidant polysaccharides such as the ones found in reishi neutralize free radicals: the atoms, molecules, and ions that are produced regularly by a variety of cell processes. Their unpaired electrons make them highly reactive and able to damage tissues.
Research studies in animals and cells have shown that the potent antioxidants found in reishi can help keep your bodys harmful free radicals in check. Because oxidative stress can age cells and tissues of the body, reishi may help fight off the age-accelerating, cell-damaging effects of free radicals.
Exhibits Cardioprotective Properties
Reishi is generally considered to have some cardioprotective properties. Researchers report that the active compounds of reishi, particularly the triterpenes, may support blood pressure and cholesterol control. Reishi supports blood flow and oxygen consumption to cardiac muscles. It can also inhibit platelet aggregation and complement activation, which lead to dangerous blood clots.