- Reishi mushrooms are a medicinal mushroom used for centuries in Asian medicine to improve the immune system and fight disease.
- Medicinal mushrooms act as adaptogens, helping us resist physical and psychological stress.
- Reishi can reduce fatigue and increase mental focus.
- Reishi is a natural mood enhancer that can relieve depression and anxiety.
What are Reishi mushrooms?
Reishi, also known as lingzhi or Ganoderma lucidum, are medicinal mushrooms that have been used in East Asian medicine for centuries to treat infections, heart disease, and cancer. When eaten as a food, they can be tough and bitter, so they are often consumed as a supplement or extract.
Like most medicinal mushrooms, reishi have a variety of benefits for both the mind and the body. Reishi are also in a special class of herbs and fungi called adaptogens, which means they help our bodies “adapt” to physical, chemical, or biological stressors.
What physical benefits do Reishi offer?
Reishi mushrooms are an immune boosting powerhouse. They benefit the immune system by increasing the activity of our white blood cells. One specific type of white blood cell that acts as the body’s first line of defense against infection and disease is called a natural killer (NK) cell. Research shows that natural killer cells fight everything from cancer to virus cells in the body and reishi mushrooms have been shown to increase their activity.
There are several beneficial molecules in reishi mushrooms, but triterpenoids are the main active substances. More than 150 triterpenoids are found in reishi and while their benefits have been studied more in Eastern medicine, Western researchers are now discovering the pharmacological benefits of reishi spores.
Several studies have shown that the triterpenoids in reishi have anti-tumor activities. In China and Japan, medicinal mushrooms are used with chemotherapy to treat a variety of cancers and safely decrease tumor size. They also suppress tumor growth and are being studied as a therapy for breast and other cancers.
Reishi also show antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. There is a large amount of researchlinking inflammation to disease and medicinal mushrooms like reishi can lower inflammation in the body to reduce disease risk. Antioxidants in reishi can fight free radicals which destroy healthy cells. Inflammation, oxidative stress, and foreign invaders are all fought off by our immune system, so medicinal mushrooms that boost our immunity help us combat a variety of physical stressors.
When stress is not dealt with, or when we find ourselves living through a pandemic and economic turmoil, we can experience suppressed immunity and a feeling of physical fatigue. Reishi mushrooms also combat adrenal fatigue that causes a host of physical problems and results from the accumulation of stress.
What about the mental benefits of medicinal mushrooms like Reishi?
Consuming reishi has been shown to calm anxiety and increase mental focus. So many people struggle with anxiety, and medicinal mushrooms like reishi can be a safe, natural supplement to reduce daily stress. Lower levels of stress mean increased performance at work and school and more restful sleep.
Reishi contain polypeptides, which enhance endorphins and promote relaxation. As explained above, stress is currently linked to a variety of physical disorders, but managing stress must become a priority for our mental health as well. Anxiety can mean we struggle with concentration, memory, and focus. Medicinal mushrooms promote calm and focus to reduce the negative effects of stress and improve our mood.
Reishi can also alleviate depression and fatigue. Often symptoms of depression and a feeling of exhaustion go hand-in-hand, and the cycle of low energy and a depressed mood can be difficult to break. Incorporating supplements that contain medicinal mushrooms into our daily diets can relieve these symptoms and give us more energy and increase our mental focus.
Mental health is more important than ever, and we often overlook natural foods and adaptogens as a way of safely boosting our mood and energy. Reishi and other medicinal mushrooms can be combined with powerful ingredients like cacao or ashwagandha to elevate our mood and improve our focus.
How can I add Reishi to my diet when I’ve never seen it at the grocery store?
Rather than try to add all the wonderful medicinal mushrooms founds in nature to our dinner plates, supplements and extracts are the easiest way to consume them daily. Mushroom extracts are completely tasteless and easily added to everything from smoothies to protein bars. To maximize the effectiveness of the reishi, make sure you look for extracts that are made from 100% fruiting bodies.
Reishi mushrooms, along with other adaptogens like lion’s mane, chaga, and cordyceps, have a centuries-long history of naturally relieving the physical and psychological stresses that often slow us down and keep us from living our best lives. Add medicinal mushrooms to your everyday diet to boost your immunity, protect yourself from stress, and improve your mood. You deserve to feel better!