With the explosive growth of natural medicine and supplements, mushrooms have become chief in this regard. Long-known for their beneficial properties, mushroom supplements and manufacturers have popped up internationally. Among the well-over 20 well known fungi, Reishi is likely the leader in benefits. To help you navigate this market and help you reach your goals, this guide was put together for you.
What Is Reishi
Reishi or Lingzhi (mushroom of immortality), is a mushroom growing in humid climates in Asia. There are several strains, with Ganoderma Lucidum being the most popular. Ganoderma lucidum comes in Red, Yellow, Green, Black, White, and Purple. The Red type is the used and most-studied. Originally found in Korea, China, and Japan, Reishi now grows on hardwoods like maple, oak, and elm throughout the world. Newer/younger growth appears as a white layer on the outermost part of the mushrooms. Red Reishi appears almost like a kidney, with a red/brown colour and kidney bean shape. This fungi has been used in traditional medicine for over 3000 years. It has seen an explosive market increase over the past several years, with more and more learning of it’s beneficial properties. In Japan, it is known as mannentake (10,000 year mushroom) and is listed by the government as an official cancer treatment.
History of Reishi
The first proliferation of Rieshi images began in 1400AD, China. Since Reishi is rare in the wilds, it was only available to rich aristocrats and nobles. Since then, Reishi has shown up in a number of medicinal texts and pharmacology books throughout the ages. Ancient texts record a number of benefits including enhanced memory, help with shortness of breath, improved energy, anti-aging effects, and boosted cardiac & vital function. Reishi is heavily associated with Taoism, an ancient Chinese Religion & Philosophy.
Since then, Reishi has been cultivated all over the world for it’s health benefits.
Benefits of Reishi
1. BOOSTED IMMUNE SYSTEM
Likely what Reishi is most well known for, Reishi is very beneficial to the immune system. Reishi has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells, and particularly effective at increasing the activity of Natural Cell Killers, a type of white blood cell that fights off infections and cancer. While there aren’t any studies on it’s effectiveness in preventing diseases & infections, anecdotal and scientific evidence has shown it’s ability to help those already compromised and return their body to normal. One study found it also improved immune function in athletes exposed to stressful conditions.
2. FIGHT & PREVENT CANCER
Continuing with the previous benefit, Reishi has been to be incredibly beneficial in fighting and preventing cancer. One study found that out of 4000 breast cancer survivors, 59% had taken Reishi. Several test-tube studies found it did contribute to the death of cancer cells. This would be inline with the benefits on cancer-killing white blood cells as previously stated. Multiple studies have found beneficial effects on cancer patients with Intestinal, Colorectal, and Prostate cancer. A report looking at several studies found that Reishi had positive effects on the treatment, life-expectancy, and overall well-being of patients with cancer. Japan also lists Reishi as an official cancer treatment.
3. IMPROVE MOOD , FIGHT DEPRESSION, AND HELP WITH ANXIETY
Reishi has been shown to improve the overall well-being and mood of those taking it. One study conducted on participants with neurasthenia found a decrease in fatigue and an improvement in well-being after 8 weeks. Another study found a decrease in fatigue and improvement in quality of life in breast-cancer survivors after 4 weeks. Considering it’s immune boosting benefits, this is logical as it would help reduce inflammation, a contributing factor to depression and anxiety. Infections and diseases wreck havoc on your body, making you miserable, therefore making Reishi a good supplement for those down in the dumps.
4. IMPROVE SLEEP
Because of Reishi’s ability to fight off infections, the nasal airways are more cleared, allowing for better air intake and relaxability at night. Without the need to fight off infection, the body is also better able to repair itself and rest. The potential help with anxiety would also play a factor.
5. BOOST ENERGY LEVELS
Infections & diseases take a heavy toll on the body, sapping it of energy and nutrients. When free of these anchors, you have much more energy. Another contributor is the opening of airways, allowing for more & better air intake. The 2 studies mentioned in 3. found this as well.
6. SLOW AGING
Because of Reishi’s antioxidants, it has been toted as an anti-aging supplement. It’s compounds are able to prevent damage from oxidants and stress which lead to aging. Disease and infections also contribute to aging, stressing the body, which Reishi has been shown to help with.
7. MAY IMPROVE HEART HEALTH
One study found an increase in HDL “good cholesterol” and a decrease in triglycerides after a 12-week period. Two other studies however did not find any benefit to the heart. Ancient medicinal texts have toted Reishi’s benefits for heart function, but as of now there is not enough scientific research to confirm this.
8. PREVENT HAIR LOSS
Triterpenoids, one of the active ingredients in Reishi, has been shown to be a 5a-reductase inhibitor. This means it prevents some Testosterone from being converted to DHT, and subsequently preventing hair loss. This same process is what also makes Reishi an incredibly effective Prostate Cancer treatment. For those, especially men, worried about this interaction, there are Reishi supplements with Triterpenoids removed.
Dosing & Timing
Dosage depends on the extract, with lower quality requiring more. Generally, 1g of extract powder is the recommended dose. Mix it into warm water or a tea, along with other immune-boosting mushrooms for a synchronistic effect. If you have capsules, take with warm water on an empty stomach or at least a couple hours after a meal.
You can take it any time of the day but I recommend taking it in the afternoon or evening to help wind the body down.
Best Reishi Supplement
RealMushrooms Reishi Extract – RealMushrooms offers the best fungi/mushroom supplements available. Their Reishi 2:1 Extract has been extracted twice, using both methods available, hot water and alcohol. They have zero grain, mycelium, or starch so it is the pure thing with zero fillers. It really is real mushrooms.
Side Effects & Interactions
Reishi is safe for most people, however as being a supplement, those with kidney or liver problems should avoid.
One study did find participants had upset stomach and minor digestive distress after 4 months of consecutive Reishi supplementation.
2 studies have circulated that did find toxic effects on the liver & kidneys after switching to Reishi extracts. However the problem with these 2 ‘studies’ are that they aren’t studies at all, and instead 2 reports, one of a man taking multiple medications and switching to an extract (no extract source was stated) after zero complications with eating the mushroom, and the other is simply a title with zero additional information I could find.
There are no none interactions with Reishi and medications, however, to reiterate, those with liver & kidney problems should avoid.
Additionally, the compound Triterpenoids in Reishi has been shown to lower DHT levels through inhibiting the enzyme 5a-reductase. You can get Reishi supplements with Triterpenoids removed to combat this.