In this article, you will find out about the science behind using reishi mushroom for hair loss. You will discover the latest scientific studies surrounding this ancient plant, as well as how you can get started reaping the benefits of its benefits today.
Reishi mushrooms are considered the “herb of mental power” in Asia and have been used alongside other herbs such as faience in use for thousands of years. It goes by a number of names, including Lingzhi and G. Lucidum, and grows in the base of hardwood trees. While wild varieties of this mushroom are rare, today, lingzhi is farmed in hardwood logs and wood chips.
The mushroom itself has a corky texture, with flat tops. It usually has red paint finish with a kidney-shaped cap.
While there are other colors, red reishi is the best known and studied. With various therapeutic uses, including immunomodulation and as an antioxidant, it is no surprise that researchers have focused on this versatile mushroom and studied it extensively. But, the question that this article is going to address is, “does reishi mushroom help with hair loss?”.
Reishi Mushroom for Hair Loss | An Inhibitor of DHT
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a sex hormone that is converted from testosterone via an enzyme called 5α-reductase. It is a natural process, and not harmful for most individuals. However, men who have a genetic predisposition for male pattern baldness are susceptible to DHT on their scalp.
This is a primary cause of Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). Fortunately, for AGA sufferers, it is possible to block DHT. With the right inhibition, hair loss can be reversed. One of these ways is through the use of reishi mushrooms.
A Japanese study in 2005 tested 19 species of mushrooms to determine the suppressive effects of 5α-reductase. First, researchers prepared ethanol extracts from each of the 19 species of mushrooms included in the experiment. In the first part of the study, scientists added ethanol extracts to a slurry of liver and prostate tissues from rats. The goal of this experiment was to determine each mushrooms percent 5α-reductase inhibition.
Reishi showed the highest percentage of 5α-reductase inhibition, falling in the range 70-80%. For reference, the next most potent mushroom species, Pleurotus osteratus, showed a suppressive percentage around 60%.
Next, researchers looked at the growth rates of the prostate glands of castrated rats. Since prostate size is directly related to testosterone levels, this experiment was designed to see whether G. lucidum (reishi mushrooms) can suppress testosterone effects.
Rats were divided into three groups. The first group was a control group that received just testosterone. The second group received both testosterone and G. lucidum (1.5%/kg), while the third group received both testosterone and G. lucidum at 15%/kg.
The results showed that both concentrations of reishi reduced prostate weight less than the testosterone-control group. Interestingly, the lower concentration was most effective.
For those with hair loss, what should be the main takeaway from this study?
Chiefly, reishi mushroom is an effective inhibitor of 5a-reductase, thereby reducing the amount of DHT produced within the body. For those with AGA, this is a critical find. It means that reishi mushroom supplementation can significantly reduce DHT levels, protecting the DHT-sensitive hair follicles from miniaturization.
Reishi Mushroom’s Antimicrobial Affects on Hair Growth
With the rapid rise in antibiotic resistance, natural methods to combat a variety of germs are at the forefront of scientific investigation.
In the Quereshi et al., Reishi mushrooms were collected, dried, crushed, then extracted using one of three methods (methanol, ethanol, and acetone). In addition, negative (distilled water) and positive controls (the antibiotic Gentamycin sulphate) were used. Each of the five solutions was added to plates containing six different bacterial pathogens, and each plate was incubated for 24 hours. Each of the tests was repeated three times.
While none of the reishi extracts exceeded the antibiotics positive control results, a few came pretty close. Specifically, an extract from the extract with acetone versus B. subtilis and K. pneumoniae. Furthermore, all extracts really showed the microbial inhibition zones compared to negative controls.
You might wonder, what is good about antimicrobials for hair loss? Consider that not every form of alopecia is caused by a susceptibility to DHT. Other forms of hair loss are present, caused by things like fungal infections and bacteria overgrowth.
By adding an antimicrobial agent such as Reishi Mushrooms into your haircare routine, not only will you be sure your scalp stays healthy, you will be able to prevent hair follicles from becoming blocked or clogged. This will ensure your hair strands have a better environment in which to develop and grow.
Reishi As An Immunomodulator Helps With Alopecia
One specific form of alopecia,alopecia areata, is an autoimmune form of balding. The immune system works to protect the body from outside attacks. These attacks include viruses and bacteria. For people with alopecia, the immune system attacks hair follicles, which causes the hair to fall out and follicles to become damaged.
This results in patchy hair loss across the scalp. If left untreated, it may eventually cause permanent hair loss. There are many treatments that people who suffer from this kind of alopecia go through. And, although some can address hair problems in this period, it is important that you address the underlying causes of your hair loss so that you can find a permanent solution.
Reishi mushrooms are proven to be immunomodulators. Essentially, that means reishi can trigger your immune system via chemical manipulation (in this case, producing cytokines). While there is no research on reishis effects in alopecia areata at the moment, it is not too far off to say reishi could have benefits for this type of treatment. After all, proper immune responses will reduce attacks on the hair follicles and promote the growth of healthy hair.
How to Use Reishi Mushroom for Hair Growth
If you are willing to try your hand at reishi mushrooms, you will be happy to hear there are several methods that you can try.
Make Your Own Reishi Shampoo
Store-bought shampoos are loaded with chemicals, which can make it harder for you to get on the scalp. Combat that by making your own homemade shampoo.
- Liquid castile soap ( 1/2 cup)
- Aloe vera gel ( 1/3 cup)
- Green tea ( 1/2 cup)
- Vanilla essential oil (10 drops)
- Reishi extract (1 cup)
Bring a pot of water to the boil, take it off of heat, and stir in reishi mushrooms for steeping. Allow to cool to room temperature, and then discard reishi solids. Combine the reishi tea with the remaining ingredients, making sure you mix well.
Apply shampoo on moist hair, taking two or three minutes to work it through your scalp. The shampoo may stay up to five minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
Reishi Mushroom Benefits for Hair
This powerful combo has various elements to feed the body, as well as stimulating hair growth and encouraging clean scalp. Aloe Vera gel is the primary soother in this recipe, protecting your scalp from irritation and itching. Reishi (which inhibits 5-A-reductase) and vanilla extract (which promotes hair growth) work together to promote a healthier environment for your hair to grow. Finally, various compounds found in green tea encourage additional hair growth and deliver a potent punch of antioxidants (10).
Add Reishi Mushroom To a Hair Growth Mask
While DIY shampoo is a great starting point, you can always take it one step further by creating your own scalp rub, moisturizer, or even a hair growth mask.
- Avocado (1 half)
- Vanilla Essential Oil (10 drops)
- Cherries (6, peeled and pitted)
- Water (1/2 cup)
- Herbs (nettle, chamomile, reishi)
Bring a pot (or kettle) of water to the boil. Remove from heat, add in nettle, chamomile, and reishi. Allow to steep until water is at room temperature, and then remove herbs.
Combine herb and mushroom tea, along with avocado, cherry, and vanilla essential oils. Add to the blender, and mix the mixture on a high speed until smooth.
Apply the mask on your damp hair and scalp. Massage the mask into the scalp for two or three minutes, and then let it sit on your scalp for 15-20 minutes. Rinse mask off with lukewarm water, and then pat it dry. This moisturizing, nourishing hair mask will do wonders for your scalp.
Naturally, Reishi acts as an inhibitor to 5-A-Reductase.
Avocado provides several nutrients, all the while protecting your scalp from drying. The cherries provide an antioxidant boost, and vanilla essential oil works to spur new hair growth.
If you prefer not to play chemist, you can skip making your own shampoos and hair masks. Instead, you can choose to take an easier approach to consuming your supplements, adding them into your diet. Of course, Reishi makes a great tea, providing all of the numerous benefits mentioned above.
You can also throw it into soups, salads, or even roast it up to create a delicious, filling side dish. Note: Before eating, soak the mushrooms overnight. This softens the husk that surrounds the mushrooms, removing none of their nutrients.
Another option is to consume it as a supplement. You can find it sold in various forms, including powders and capsules.
You can find our favorite capsules, powders, and tincture’s on the following pages of our website and learn more about each individually: