The King and Queen of Fungi: Chaga and Reishi Benefits
How Chaga and Reishi Benefits Have Earned Them Their Royal Titles
When it comes to mushrooms, we don’t love to play favorites. They all hold a special place in our hearts. But, two reign supreme. Chaga and Reishi are known as the king and queen of mushrooms, respectively. Knowing their shared majestic status in the kingdom fungi, it’s only natural that we would discuss Chaga and Reishi benefits together.
Worth noting: Chaga and Reishi were anointed with these names long before any of us came around; otherwise, we’d perhaps modernize their monikers. (Co-presidents of the kingdom fungi, perhaps?) No matter what you call them, these mushrooms are pretty amazing.
The Coolest Things About Chaga
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) has many aliases: cinder or birch conk, clinker polypore, black gold, and gold of the forest. It’s also good at going incognito. To the untrained eye, Chaga looks nothing like a mushroom. You might think it’s a chunk of burned wood — and that’s because the fruiting body of this “tonic” mushroom is rarely seen and not used in herbalism.
What you get in Chaga tea or in our Daily 10 Tincture is the sclerotia, or a sterile conk. This is a hardened mycelial mass that becomes one with the host tree. (Chaga takes over a birch tree, which eventually succumbs to the Chaga!)
You can commonly find Chaga in Russia, Poland and across the Baltic region, where it has traditionally been used by folk herbalists. The chunks were ground or grated, then brewed into a tea. (1)
So what about Chaga’s benefits? First and foremost, it’s known for antioxidant support.*
Chaga contains active components known as triterpenoids, which need precursor substances drawn from birch trees.*(3) In your body, Chaga promotes the production of cytokines, which are proteins that support your immune system.* This, in turn, helps your body’s natural white blood cell production.*
If you can find sustainably sourced Chaga, brew up a slow cooker full of tea. Or, you can also find it in our Daily 10, which contains sustainably source Chaga, and can be added to smoothies, soups, lattes, and more.
Why Reishi is a Mushroom Superstar
Like Chaga, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) also goes by plenty of names: the mushroom of immortality, Ling zhi (spirit plant) and 10,000-year mushroom among them. You’ll commonly hear herbalists talk about Reishi benefits, including its adaptogen properties and the support it offers for overall wellness, healthy sleep and immune health.*
This queen ranges in color from reddish-orange to black, and it grows across the US, Europe, South America, and Asia. You’ll find it growing on elm, alder, oak and some conifer trees. As with Chaga, Reishi doesn’t resemble the traditional “mushroom” with a cap and stem. Reishi instead grows out like a shelf or awning on a tree.
The fresh white edges are sometimes tender enough to cook and eat, but the fruiting bodies are generally tough, which is why they’re extracted. Reishi can be a little bitter (can’t we all?), thanks to the triterpenes it contains, but that’s a sign that your Reishi contains the “good stuff” (aka fruiting bodies). Reishi fruiting bodies boast over 130 triterpenoid compounds (primarily ganoderic and lucideric acids).
Reishi is as versatile as it is cherished. It’s been used in China and Japan for over 4,000 years for a variety of reasons! This mushroom is considered to be an adaptogen, helping the body’s natural response to stress, and it also promotes healthy sleep.* (4) It may also help promote stamina and healthy energy levels!* (5)
In the immune system, Reishi supports the production of white blood cells, and it also offers cardiovascular and antioxidant support.*(6)
Chaga and Reishi Benefits in a Bottle
As you’ve seen, Chaga and Reishi benefits abound — which is why you’ll find them both in our Mush-10 powder and tincture. (You can also find the “queen” solo, in our double-extracted Reishi tincture!)
(1) Zhao F, Xia G, Chen L, et al. Chemical constituents from Inonotus obliquus and their antitumor activities. The Journal of Natural Medicine. 2016;70(4):721‐730. doi:10.1007/s11418-016-1002-4
(2) Cui Y, Kim DS, Park KC. Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2005;96(1-2):79‐85. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.08.037
(3) Kim YR. Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus. Mycobiology. 2005;33(3):158‐162. doi:10.4489/MYCO.2005.33.3.158
(4) Winston, D., & Maimes, S. (2007). Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
(5) Tang W, Gao Y, Chen G, et al. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Journal of Medicine and Food. 2005;8(1):53‐58. doi:10.1089/jmf.2005.8.53
(6) Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/