Reishi Mushroom Benefits for Health and Wellness*
Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or in traditional Chinese herbalism, Lingzhi, has a rich history and is becoming quite popular today in the wellness space. Reishi has been used for over 2,000 years and is considered to be quite sacred and powerful.* Reishi has been revered through the years because of its potential to help support vitality, longevity, and healthy immune system responses.*
In this post, we’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of Reishi mushroom, including a brief history, an explanation of why this functional mushroom is important, different ways to consume Reishi mushroom, and all the potential benefits this functional mushroom offers for well-being.* Consider this your 101 guide to all things you may have ever wanted to know about Reishi mushroom!
What are Reishi mushrooms and why are they important?
Reishi is a bright, shiny, burgundy-colored, kidney-shaped conk mushroom. Reishi mushroom is a polypore and is extremely tough and woody. It often has a white outside edge that thins out as it matures. Its striking fruiting body is often found growing on trees in dense woodlands throughout the world, including China, North America, and even in the Amazon Rainforest. They favor chestnut, hemlock, oak, and other broad-leaf trees.
Reishi is a slow growing mushroom. You don’t have to wait for a fully fruited mushroom body, however, as Reishi can be harvested at any stage in its fruiting development. While Reishi is quite distinctive, if you are not knowledgeable about foraging mushrooms, we encourage you to verify the ID before consuming teas or extracts made from your foraged mushrooms.
Reishi has been used for centuries in Asia for a plethora of reasons, in a variety of forms–including pure Reishi extract. Its eminence in Asia is nothing new, and it is still used today in abundance–now with legitimate scientific backing!
Benefits of pure Reishi extract include supporting our immune system, cardiovascular system, kidney functioning, and adrenals.* It also helps support healthy inflammatory responses post workout, normal aging, relaxation, and sleep cycles.* Reishi mushroom is also considered to be an adaptogen, meaning it assists the body’s response to occasional stress. It may also help with skin health, especially wounds or irritations of the skin.*
What compounds are in Reishi?
Reishi has been honored and passed down by generations because of its supportive properties.* Reishi contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium, as well as proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber.* Reishi also contains some dynamic bioactive constituents including polysaccharides, triterpenes, and peptidoglycans that have been found to interact with our human bodies in a very supportive way.*
Reishi contains 1,3 / 1,6 beta-glucans, which are beneficial compounds that support regular and healthy immune responses.* 1,3 / 1,6 beta-glucans are unique complex carbohydrates that have a vast range of potential health benefits.*
The immune supportive properties of the Reishi mushroom have been identified to include more than 100 polysaccharides and over 100 triterpenoids, which come from both the fruiting body and mycelia, with most of the active compounds being found in the fruiting body. We will talk more about the difference between mycelium and fruiting bodies a little later in this blog, but the important takeaway is that you should always look for Reishi mushroom supplements formulated using the ‘fruiting bodies’.
The specific polysaccharides that Reishi mushrooms contain are called 1,3 1,6 beta glucans which support the body's production of immune cells and proteins that are important for a healthy immune response.* When we consume 1,3 1,6 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)
What are the benefits of using Reishi mushrooms?
- Provide Immune Support*
Reishi is often called the “Mushroom of Immortality” and “10,000 Year Mushroom”. This reputation is due to its many impressive properties, but it's immune system support is certainly key to the namesake.
- May help support seasonal transitions*
Reishi mushroom packs a punch against watery eyes and runny noses caused by high pollen count.* Ganoderic acids A through D in Reishi may support a healthy histamine response during seasonal transitions.* Due to these immune supporting properties, Reishi is heralded as a go-to supplement during seasonal transitions.*
- Supports the body’s response to occasional stress*
Reishi mushroom is considered to be an adaptogen meaning it helps support the body as it adapts to different varieties of occasional stress, either from the environment, physical conditions, or occasional emotional stress.* It helps support our body’s response to occasional stress and fatigue in the short term, and supports whole system longevity in the long term.
- May support cardiovascular health*
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.*
Some of the compounds found in Reishi by the Chinese University in Hong Kong include ganoderic acids A, B, C, and D, lucidenic acid B and ganodermanontriol. These compounds have positive qualities, allowing Reishi to possibly support balance and cellular health within the normal heart and cardiovascular system function.*
Ways to enjoy Reishi Mushrooms / How to use Reishi Mushrooms
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.
Because of its hard woody texture and the triterpenes which make it bitter, Reishi is less appealing to eat than other mushrooms. Reishi mushroom better lends itself for hardy teas, broths, and extracts. Consuming Reishi in an adaptogenic tonic is another wonderful way to incorporate Reishi mushroom into your life.
A simple and convenient way to obtain the benefits of Reishi is to take a tincture, which can also be added to drinks. Due to the fact that there are several different constituents in Reishi mushrooms, a couple different processes must be utilized in order to get all the valuable compounds into the final product. Because of this you should always look for a tincture that is dual-extracted. The dual-extraction method (like we use here at Mushroom Revival in our Reishi Calm formula) means that the Reishi mushroom goes through both an alcohol extraction and an water extraction in order to pull out the alcohol-soluble and water-soluble compounds.
Reishi Capsules and Powders:
Other ways to incorporate Reishi mushroom into your routine include Reishi powders and capsules. Make sure that you are only sourcing powders and capsules that disclose that they are using the ‘fruiting body’. The fruiting body is the actual mushroom; and unfortunately there are some companies out there that are using ‘mycelium on grain’ which are essentially the underground roots of mushrooms. Unfortunately, the mycelium does not contain the same level of beneficial compounds as the fruiting body.
Reishi is also very commonly consumed through brewing it into a tea. Some recipes for this are below.
- Treat Yourself to Delicious and Nourishing Reishi Tea
- Three Delicious and Easy Reishi Mushroom Recipes
When to take Reishi Mushrooms
Because Reishi mushroom is considered an adaptogen it can be taken whenever it works best for your body and your schedule. Reishi helps support our body’s immediate response to occasional stress and fatigue in the short term, and supports whole system longevity in the long term— once again alluding to its name “Mushroom of Immortality” or “10,000 Year Mushroom”.*
Reishi also supports your immune system and circulatory system, so making sure to supplement Reishi mushroom when you are traveling, in the morning on a winter day, before entering a heavily populated area works to provide a little extra support when you might be faced with additional external factors.
When is the best time to take Reishi?
The most popular time to take reishi is in the evening—after dinner, but close enough to bed time so that you know those potent compounds are journeying through your circulatory system as you’re transitioning to a horizontal state. Because Reishi is considered an adaptogen, it can be supportive after a long day in front of the screen or a jam packed day driving cross country.
However, if you do not like taking supplements in the evening, feel free to take Reishi in the morning or afternoon. You will still receive support throughout the day and night because of Reishi’s adaptogenic qualities which help to keep your body in a kind of ‘cruise control’ state. We like to use this analogy to describe how adaptogens work in the body; when your car is in cruise control the mechanics automatically adjust to external factors such as inclines, declines, and other vehicles to keep your car maintaining a constant speed.
Learn more about Reishi for a Natural Transition to Sleep.
Of course, timing and dosage depends on the individual person and what goals you have in mind. We recommend taking two droppers of a Reishi tincture per day; however, that is not the ideal dose for everyone. If you need additional support you can consider adding an additional dropper or taking your droppers over an extended period of time versus all at once. But as with integrating any supplements into your routine, we advise discussing it first with a medical professional.
What to look for in Reishi mushroom supplements
While brewing a tea might be the most popular way to consume Reishi mushrooms, taking the functional mushrooms in tincture form is the most bioavailable method of consumption. Bioavailability is the rate and extent to which the active compounds are absorbed from a supplement into the bloodstream.
When looking for a Reishi tincture you want to make sure that it is a ‘dual extracted’ tincture. Dual extracted tinctures ensure that you are getting maximum potency because certain beneficial compounds need to be extracted with water, and others need to be extracted through alcohol.
When shopping for a Reishi mushroom supplement it is also crucial to make sure that fruiting bodies are used and you are not getting a supplement made with ‘mycelium on grain’. Mycelium are essentially the underground roots of the mushrooms. With functional mushroom supplements popping up in more stores everyday, it is important to understand what is in the products that you are putting into your body. In order to get the highest quality Reishi into your body, fruiting bodies are key! This is because the fruiting bodies have significantly higher levels of the beneficial compounds you want. For example, the most famous compounds in Reishi are types of triterpenes called ganoderic and lucidenic acids, which account for the bitter taste and help support your body. These compounds are not even detectable in Reishi mycelium but are in high levels in the fruiting bodies (the actual mushrooms).(1)
At Mushroom Revival we only use 100% USDA certified organic Reishi fruiting bodies and will never use mycelium on grain so you can rest assured you’re only getting the good stuff.
It’s also important to make sure that the Reishi supplement has gone through lab testing. It’s important to make sure your product is lab tested to ensure you’re not ingesting heavy metals or other potential contaminants. But more importantly lab testing results also show the levels of beneficial compounds in your Reishi supplement. At Mushroom Revival we include a scannable QR code on all of our packaging that once scanned will take you directly to our lab results. You can also easily view our lab results before purchasing your functional mushroom supplements by simply clicking the link on our product pages.
As a consumer it’s important to have these tools at your fingertips, making it easy for you to select the best product without any of the fuss. When buying mushroom products on the market, always check the label on the back and always check for a certificate of analysis.
Potential Side Effects of Reishi Mushroom
As with any dietary supplement, consult your physician before incorporating Reishi mushroom into your regimen as health benefits and side effects can vary. Possible adverse effects may occur from using Reishi in higher doses if you are also taking certain medications.* Reishi in particular is known to have contraindications with pharmaceuticals such as blood thinners, chemotherapy medication, and immunosuppressants.* We are not doctors, and as always we encourage you to consult your primary health care provider for more information prior to consuming any supplement.*