While this may be the first time you’re hearing about reishi mushroom, for over 2,000 years it’s been one of the most critically-acclaimed parts of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As one of the oldest therapeutically-used mushrooms, it has an impressive history of use. Known as a powerful immune system ally, stress reducer, mood balancer, and anti-inflammatory, reishi is making its mark in the 21st century as one of the most powerful anti-aging substances available.
This robust tonic herb is part of a special class of consumables called adaptogens. Adaptogens are so important to your overall health, they positively affect the function of every cell in your body and build in efficacy over time. The more you take, the stronger your body becomes.
The History of Reishi Mushroom
The Mushroom of Immortality
Also known as Ling Zhi, after its discovery around 396 BC in the Changbai Mountains of China, reishi became very popular with the emperors. Claiming it contained the power to live forever, they started calling reishi the “Mushroom of Immortality”.
While “immortality” was definitely an exaggeration, modern day science has proven the emperors were onto something with their declarations. Reishi contains over 400 bioactive compounds which contribute to health and longevity!
The Mushroom of Spiritual Potency
In Chinese medicinal texts, reishi is referred to as the “Mushroom of Spiritual Potency”. Monks and Taoists list reishi as a calming “shen” herb that nourishes the spirit, and relaxes the mind. Today’s studies have shown reishi to promote feelings of peace as it balances the endocrine system, playing a powerful role in mental clarity and stress reduction.
The more studies that come out revealing the damaging effects of stress on our body, the more we can understand the importance of incorporating adaptogenic herbs like reishi into our diet. Reishi is equally valuable for those dealing with low-key daily stressors, or those struggling under a heavy burden of chronic stress.
The Queen of the Mushrooms
Of the top 50 tonic herbs in the TCM tradition, reishi has been ranked at the top of the list. Given the title “Queen of Mushrooms” by some, (with chaga being King of the Mushrooms), reishi sits as the one herb you should always get into your diet. It positively affects every action of your cells, organs, and body systems and as mentioned above, has the notable action of building in efficacy over time.
Reishi helps you handle stress more gracefully, avoid or bounce back faster from illness, and in general just “feel better” as over time all of your systems come into healthy alignment.
Top 5 Scientifically Proven Benefits
1 – Toxin Crusader
Reishi mushroom has become one of the most well-studied herbs on the planet, earning it notable credibility in the medical world for its proven anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer properties. In fact, in many Asian countries reishi is used alongside, or in place of, pharmaceutical medicines against major diseases such as hepatitis, cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, AIDS, and many types of infections.
The high number of bioavailable polysaccharides that reishi offers function as building blocks within your body and provide you with solid energy reserves. Studies have shown that reishi builds your immune system by activating your T-lymphocytes (immune cells) and increasing phagocytosis (good cells that eat up the pathogens). It also reduces inflammation, cultivating an environment where cancer cells don’t want to live.
Reishi’s measurable antioxidant activity contributes to building the strength of your immune system. It’s special in that while it can boost your immune system, it can also calm your immune system. So depending on what your body needs at any given moment, reishi can help.
2 – Neuroenhancer
Studies from the Neuropharmacology journal, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry journal and the FASEB Journal, show reishi mushroom increases nerve growth factor levels in cells which stimulate brain neuron activity. Reishi is protective against seizures, and people report feeling increased brain function with clearer thinking after consuming reishi for just a short time.
Reishi has a notable effect on the endocrine and hormonal systems of your body, which controls your mood, your ability to bond and connect with others, your sleep-wake cycle, and how well all of your organs work together. All of this contributes to your peace of mind and feelings of well-being.
3 – Detoxifier
Ongoing detoxification is critical to living a long, healthy life. We are all exposed to an abundance of environmental toxins as we move throughout our day. If your liver isn’t functioning to the best of its ability, you aren’t going to expel all the chemicals you take in through your air, water, and food. Over time, this leads to a build-up of toxins and inflammation which creates the perfect environment for diseases to take hold.
Reishi offers you beta glucans which act as precursors to hormones in your body, and triterpenes that turn off your body’s response to allergies. It strengthens your liver and improves your circulation, which in turn supports your ability to filter bacteria and viruses out. Consuming reishi daily is an easy detoxification strategy you can incorporate immediately to become more resilient to food allergies, environmental pollutants, and heavy metal toxicity.
4 – Beauty Booster
Reishi positively affects your blood circulation and hormones. This has an impressive influence on the strength and shine of your hair, your skin tone and appearance, how well your nails grow, and whether you store or process fat. When circulation is poor, vitamins and minerals can’t reach your skin. You lose your glow, your hair growth slows down, and you experience acne breakouts. When your hormones are out of balance, you start to store fat in areas you otherwise wouldn’t, and you feel sluggish and rundown.
Reishi’s impressive amount of active constituents keep your skin evenly-toned, your hair shiny and full, your nails smooth, and contribute to an overall youthful appearance by keeping hormones in check.
5 – Total Body Supporter
Research reveals reishi mushroom supports every cellular function in your body. Yes, every single one!
The list of “conditions” that reishi has been proven to reduce, support, and eliminate is beyond impressive. Check out this list:
How To Consume It
Reishi mushrooms grow on trees, mainly decaying hardwoods, and produce what’s called a “fruiting body” with mycelium. They are edible off the tree, but not very tasty to consume this way due to an unpleasant texture and a very bitter flavor. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, once harvested, the reishi would be cut into slices or chunks. It was dried in the sun and then boiled in hot water to make a tea.
A more modern, but now equally popular method of reishi consumption, is to tincture it in alcohol to extract all the active constituents. Even more recently, powdered forms of reishi have become available and many people find adding reishi to smoothies or soups to be a nice option.
The flavor of reishi is earthy and slightly bitter, and so it pairs well with coffee or cacao in drink form. In tincture form, pairing with turkey tail is a nice flavor balancer and a delicious way to deliver hardcore immune system support.
Whether you add reishi mushroom powder to your morning coffee, squirt a tincture into your mouth, or drink it up in tea form, the important thing is to make sure you are getting reishi into your body every. single. day.