Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma or in traditional Chinese herbalism, Ling zhi, has a rich history and is becoming quite popular today. Reishi has been used for over 2,000 years and is considered to be sacred, and powerful.(1) Historically, this mushroom was rare and therefore quite valuable, so for the most part it was saved for royalty or those who were wealthy. Reishi has appeared in ancient pieces of art from paintings and carvings to the walls of palaces and temples. Reishi was even documented by scientists, and pharmacologists throughout Chinese history as “food for the gods.”(1)
Learning about this deep history of reishi may make you wonder: why was this mushroom honored in this way? First of all, reishi contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium, as well as proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber. In addition, reishi contains polysaccharides, triterpenes, and peptidoglycans which are the main bioactive constituents that have been found to interact with our bodies in a supportive way,*(8) as I will go on to elucidate.
Reishi mushroom is suggested to have adaptogenic abilities,* meaning it helps support the body as it adapts to different conditions of stress, either from the environment or physical conditions, or emotional stress.* Adaptogens maintain the body's healthy balance and resilience, (2) and because of this there are a variety of reishi mushroom benefits.*
Reishi Mushroom Benefits
Reishi Mushroom contains polysaccharides called beta glucans which may support the body's production of immune cells and proteins that are important in the immune response.* When we consume beta glucans, they may begin to interact with pathways in the body* which encourages the natural processes of the immune system to progress in a beneficial way.* (3)
Additionally, reishi mushroom benefits not only the immune system, but also supports the health of the cardiovascular system by encouraging the body’s production of antioxidants, as well as maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol.* (4) One interesting thing to think about is that in a way, reishi mushrooms grow to look like the shape of a heart, which could be a fun and easy way to remember that this mushroom may support cardiovascular health.*
Furthermore, reishi supports aspects of our health that we cannot even see! What does this mean? Well, polysaccharides from reishi mushrooms benefit a healthy gut microbiome* by providing nutrients to bacteria that are wanted in the gut.* Having a balance of bacteria in the gut is important because when this is not maintained there can be an overproduction of less beneficial bacteria, and a reduction of helpful bacteria. Basically, polysaccharides in reishi mushrooms support the balance of bacteria in the gut.* (5)
Another benefit of reishi is liver support.* The compounds in reishi mushrooms benefit the liver by supporting the body’s antioxidant system, which maintains a normal balance of oxidation and antioxidants.* (6) The liver helps the body with many different processes such as breaking down fats, storing energy and iron, and removing toxins. Our body’s organs and systems are so interconnected that supporting the liver benefits the rest of your body as well.
Finally, reishi may help you wind down at the end of a busy day, and may promote a good night sleep.* Interestingly, reishi has even been used historically to support a restful state of being. Pig thieves in Vietnam and China used to give pigs reishi to keep them relaxed and quiet so they could be stolen more easily (7).
How to Get the Most Reishi Mushroom Benefits
Now that you’ve read about the many reishi mushroom benefits you may be wondering: what is the best way to consume reishi? Reishi is a very dense, and hard mushroom, making it different from the scrumptious, fleshy culinary mushrooms such as shiitakes or oyster mushrooms. The triterpenes in reishi also make it quite bitter and less appealing to eat. Reishi can be made into a broth or a tea, but having them in a meal would probably not be the most enjoyable way to get the benefits from these mushrooms. A simple and convenient way to obtain the benefits of reishi is to take a tincture, which can also be added to drinks to reduce the bitter flavor.
Due to the fact that there are several different constituents in reishi mushrooms, a couple different processes must be done in order to get all the valuable compounds into the final product such as a tincture. Mushroom Revival’s Reishi Calm tincture is made using a dual extraction method, meaning both water and alcohol are used, and therefore compounds that are water soluble as well as those that aren’t are both extracted into the product. Taking tinctures that are made with this method allows us to get more of the benefits from reishi mushroom.
There are many situations in life where reishi mushroom could be just what you want for your daily routine. If you are in the middle of a week where you feel overworked and overwhelmed, adding reishi to your bedtime routine could help you maintain balance and calm in your life.* Feeling the desire for a little extra immune support, or wanting to give your heart some love? Maybe the Reishi Calm tincture is the right thing to try.*
- DOI: 10.1007/978-981-13-9867-4_1
- DOI: 10.1111/nyas.13399
- DOI: 10.1016/s1074-7613(03)00233-4
- DOI: 10.1615/2018028370
- DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2016.09.029
- DOI: 10.1080/13880209.2017.1288750
- Millman, Lawrence. Fungipedia: A Brief Compendium of Mushroom Lore. Princeton University Press, 2019.
- Bookshelf ID: NBK92757