Reishi

Wild_purple_reishi_mushrooms

     PHOTO SOURCE

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi mushroom is an edible type of medicinal fungus that has been used for its healing abilities for thousands of years. This mushroom is a true superfood. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and is tied to longevity, earning them the nickname “king of mushrooms.”

Reishi is known as a bitter mushroom with outstanding health benefits. The active constituents found in mushrooms include polysaccharides, dietary fibers, oligosaccharides, triterpenoids, peptides and proteins, alcohols and phenols, and mineral elements (such as zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, and iron), vitamins, and amino acids. The bioactive components found in this fungus have numerous health properties to treat diseased conditions such as hepatopathy, chronic hepatitis, nephritis, hypertension, hyperlipemia, arthritis, neurasthenia, insomnia, bronchitis, asthma, gastric ulcers, atherosclerosis, leukopenia, diabetes, anorexia, and cancer. In spite of the voluminous literature available, G. lucidum is used mostly as an immune enhancer and a health supplement.

Throughout history in holistic medicine, reishi has been considered an adaptogenic herb. This means they help your body deal with the negative effects of stress, such as increased inflammation, depleted energy levels, damaged blood vessels, and various types of hormonal imbalances.

Studies have repeatedly shown that reishi mushrooms have antioxidant abilities, allowing the body to strengthen and defend against cancer, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, allergies, infections, and more.

Overall Information

Over the past several decades, dozens of different studies conducted in Japan, China, the U.S., and the U.K. have demonstrated that reishi is capable of offering protection against numerous diseases or illnesses.

  • inflammation
  • fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • frequent infections (urinary tract, bronchitis, respiratory infections, etc.)
  • liver disease
  • food allergies and asthma
  • digestive problems, stomach ulcers, and leaky gut syndrome
  • tumor growth and cancer
  • skin disorders
  • autoimmune disorders
  • diabetes
  • viruses, including the flu, HIV/AIDS, or hepatitis
  • heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  • sleep disorders and insomnia
  • anxiety and depression

Reishi works as an “immune modulator,” this fungus helps restore hormonal balance, bringing the body back to homeostasis (balance) and regulating the activity of the immune system, while assisting with fighting tumors and cancerous cells.

Research shows that reishi acts as a normalizing substance, regulating various cellular functions and systems, including the endocrine (hormonal), immune, cardiovascular, central nervous, and digestive systems.

One of the biggest benefits reishi holds is that it’s capable of doing so much, yet produces hardly any side effects. Reishi mushrooms are much less toxic than traditional medications. , mMost people report quick improvements in their energy levels, mental focus, and mood, while also experiencing a reduction in aches, pains, allergies, digestive issues, and infections.

The various active ingredients that reishi contain include ingredients such as complex sugars known as beta-glucans, plant sterols that act as precursors to hormones in the body, polysaccharides that fight cancer cell development, and acidic substances called triterpenes that turn off the body’s response to allergies.

Recent findings suggest that reishi can lower inflammation and increase the release of natural killer cells, which work to remove various types of mutated cells from the body. This makes the reishi mushroom ideal for preventing heart disease while working as a natural cancer treatment.

Multiple ways this mushroom works to promote better health include:

  • activating cytotoxic receptors (NKG2D/NCR)
  • inhibiting cell proliferation
  • suppressing vascular endothelial growth factor
  • increasing plasma antioxidant capacity
  • enhancing immune response
  • converting excess testosterone to dihydrotestosterone

Health Benefits

Powerful Anti-Cancer Properties: 

Reishi is packed with important nutrients, including antioxidants, beta-glucans, and amino acids. This mushroom acts as an anti-inflammatory food. Researchers believe that some of the most beneficial components are its polysaccharides. These are water-soluble types of nutrients found in carbohydrate foods that are known to have anti-tumor abilities. Polysaccharides are also found in other beneficial plant foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, or beets. These foods are immune-modulating substances. According to some studies, certain medicinal mushrooms help fight cancer because polysaccharides have important biological benefits, including antioxidants, neuro-protectants, radio-protective, anti-diabetes, anti-osteoporosis, and anti-fatigue abilities.

In addition, laboratory tests demonstrate that the triterpenes found in reishi may also have cancer-fighting properties. This is one reason why brightly colored or bitter-tasting, antioxidant-rich foods like pumpkin, berries, and black rice have a reputation for promoting good health. Triterpene compounds inhibit tumor formation and metastases by limiting the attachment of cancerous cells to endothelial cells. Beta-glucans can also help fight off cancer formation by blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells while increasing the activity of the immune system. Reishi may protect the DNA and block cell mutations while preserving healthy cells in the body.

Studies have reported promising results on the link between the reishi mushroom and cancer prevention. It has been successfully used to help fight cancer of the breasts, ovaries, prostate, liver, and lungs in-vitro studies, sometimes in combination with other treatments.

Research in cancer patients suggests that reishi has antiproliferative and chemopreventive effects, helping alleviate side effects of chemotherapy, like low immunity and nausea, and potentially enhancing the efficacy of radiotherapy. This makes reishi one of the most powerful cancer-fighting foods available. The benefits of extract powders include supporting immunity to combat chronic disease.

Improves Liver Function:

The liver is one of the most vital organs in the body. It’s responsible for aiding in detoxification and helping clean, process, store, and circulates healthy blood and nutrients. This mushroom works as an adaptogen to help improve liver function and prevent liver disease. Allowing your body to flush out toxins and bacteria more efficiently and improve immunity against diseases that can develop over time.

A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that reishi induces hepatoprotective effects on acute liver injury because it contains antioxidant properties and fights harmful immune responses that slow down liver function

Promotes Heart Health:

Reishi may have blood pressure-lowering abilities as well as benefits for blood-clotting and cholesterol due to the triterpenes found in this mushroom. This is likely because they help lower inflammation within blood vessels and arteries, also restoring hormonal balance.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol can sometimes be caused by hormonal issues, including thyroid disorders or high amounts of stress, reishi helps restore optimal hormonal levels to strengthen the cardiovascular system.

In addition to lowering blood pressure, extracts can improve overall circulation, lower inflammation that worsens heart problems, and prevent clogged arteries by keeping cholesterol under control.

Balances Hormone Levels:

Reishi works as an adaptogen, helping the body cope with stress more efficiently while regulating hormone levels to optimize your overall health. Although research is currently limited to mostly animal models, some studies indicate that extracts may help normalize levels of certain receptor hormones, which are beneficial in the treatment of cancer.

Other studies show that this fungus protects and positively impacts the endocrine system, which encompasses the glands throughout the body that are responsible for the production of hormones, metabolism, growth, sleep, mood, and sexual function.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar:

Having high levels of blood sugar can bring detrimental effects to overall health, causing symptoms like fatigue, unintentional weight loss, and weight gain, as well as frequent urination. Some research shows that this mushroom has anti-diabetic properties, helping maintain normal blood sugar levels to prevent adverse side effects. For example, one review out of Taiwan showed that reishi was able to decrease levels of both blood sugar and insulin in mice. They also helped modify levels of certain enzymes involved in blood sugar control and improved the way the body uses insulin to transport sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues to be used as fuel.

Fights Allergies and Asthma:

Triterpenes are an active ingredient in reishi mushrooms. They’re a type of ganoderic acid tied to a reduction in allergies and histamine reactions associated with asthma. For this reason, it’s often used as a safe and effective natural remedy for asthma. Triterpenes are capable of lowering allergic reactions because of the way they affect the immune system, strengthen digestive organs, protect the gut lining, lower inflammation, inhibit a histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.

Protects Against Infections and Viruses:

Reishi is considered a natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal due to the active compounds that they contain. Aside from relieving allergies, triterpenes offer protection against microbial, viral, and fungal infections. Triterpenes can be found in many plant foods that taste somewhat bitter, a sign that they’re protective in nature and defend the plant against predators. The use of this mushroom may improve blood circulation and lower inflammation, as well as resolve infections more quickly, reduce pain and fight fatigue. This fungus has been used to help treat symptoms and underlying causes of urinary tract infections, hepatitis and even HIV/AIDS.

Nutrition

In supplement form, reishi mushrooms typically contain little to no calories and a small amount of dietary fiber and protein. However, the true reishi mushroom health benefits come from the ingredients that aren’t listed on nutrition labels. This mushroom is jam-packed with antioxidants and health-promoting compounds, such as polysaccharides and triterpenes. These powerful compounds are linked to a number of health benefits and have been shown to account for many of the anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties.

Reishi is an especially common ingredient used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been a staple for thousands of years. They are believed to nourish the heart, preserve liver health, slow the aging process, and enhance vitality, stamina, and strength. They’re also said to promote calmness and relaxation and are often used to supplement spiritual practices.

Botany and Foraging

Various Ganoderma species are pretty easy to identify. They usually have glossy brown, brownish-red, or orange tops, and porous white underbellies. The lower white portion darkens to beige-brown as they age. When foraging for reishi, be sure to harvest fungi that are still white underneath. They’ll be the freshest and most potent, rather than their more dehydrated counterparts.

Reishi mushrooms don’t have gills, and their white portions will bruise a bit if you poke into them. They grow in fan-like or kidney shapes and can vary from one to four inches in thickness. As mentioned, only harvest the ones with white bellies. Once they’ve started to brown, they begin to decay. You’ll find these fungi on dead or dying conifers, usually finding them growing within three to five feet above ground level, but they can show up anywhere. Be sure to familiarize yourself with reishi photos before you go foraging into the woods. They don’t have any poisonous lookalikes, which is reassuring, but it’s always best to know what you’re looking for. You may see a similar-looking conk species named Fomitopsis Pinicola. They’re super hard to the touch and won’t poke inwards or bruise when you prod at them.

Risks and Side Effects

Reishi has been used for thousands of years in all kinds of patients, and very few side effects have ever been recorded. Reishi is classified as “Class 1: Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.”

On occasion, some mild digestive upset and skin rashes may occur, but these side effects seem to go away and are typically only a threat in sensitive people with impaired immune systems.

While said to be safe, effective, and well-tolerated by most people, there are some instances when you want to talk to your doctor before using them on your own. According to studies, reishi appears to be safe for adults when taken by mouth in appropriate doses for up to one year.

If you notice any of the following reishi mushroom side effects, discontinue use immediately and visit your doctor to make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction or experiencing liver toxicity:

  • dryness of the mouth
  • dry or itchy throat
  • itchiness in the nasal area
  • strong indigestion, heartburn, or stomach upset
  • nosebleeds
  • bloody stool
  • skin rashes

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid reishi mushrooms unless under medical supervision. Additionally, if you have had any type of bleeding disorder; recently underwent surgery; take blood pressure medications, blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, or immunosuppressant medications; or have trouble with blood clotting, don’t take reishi mushrooms since they can increase blood pressure, impact blood clotting and increase the risk for bleeding.

Short History

Reishi is a type of fungus that grows outdoors. They’re native to several parts of Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan. While they’re edible and often described as bitter-tasting with a tough texture, you’re much more likely to find them in extract powder, supplements, or tinctures.

Reishi mushrooms, also known by their scientific name Ganoderma lucidum, grow above ground and produce “a fruiting body” along with connective strands (called mycelium), which are turned into herbal medicines, tinctures, teas, powders, and extracts.

For most of history in Traditional Chinese Medicine, fully grown reishi was dried, cut into slices, boiled in hot water, and then steeped to make a healing tea or soup. Today, manufacturers of reishi products use a processing technique in which reishi is boiled multiple times at high pressure, allowing the active ingredients to be extracted to form a tincture or powder extract.

Thanks to the concentrated compounds that these mushrooms contain, potential reishi mushroom benefits include protection against tumor formation, improved liver function, better heart health, enhanced blood sugar control, and a reduced risk of asthma, allergies, and infection.

Mushroom history

“Pengzu was well known in the Chinese culture as a symbol for long life, nutrition treatment and sex therapeutic treatment. He maintained his health so well that he married more than 100 wives along the way and fathered hundred of children, as late as in his 800s. The way he kept himself in good health was by taking reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) and drinking the chute, living in reclusion and good health.” PHOTO & SOURCE

Ruyi-450x455

Images extended beyond religion, and appeared in paintings, carvings, furniture, and even women’s accessories.” PHOTO & SOURCE

Botany and Foraging

Various Ganoderma species are pretty easy to identify. They usually have glossy brown, brownish-red, or orange tops, and porous white underbellies. The lower white portion darkens to beige-brown as they age. When foraging for reishi, be sure to harvest fungi that are still white underneath. They’ll be the freshest and most potent, rather than their more dehydrated counterparts.

Reishi mushrooms don’t have gills, and their white portions will bruise a bit if you poke into them. They grow in fan-like or kidney shapes and can vary from one to four inches in thickness. As mentioned, only harvest the ones with white bellies. Once they’ve started to brown, they begin to decay. You’ll find these fungi on dead or dying conifers, usually finding them growing within three to five feet above ground level, but they can show up anywhere. Be sure to familiarize yourself with reishi photos before you go foraging into the woods. They don’t have any poisonous lookalikes, which is reassuring, but it’s always best to know what you’re looking for. You may see a similar-looking conk species named Fomitopsis Pinicola. They’re super hard to the touch and won’t poke inwards or bruise when you prod at them.

Risks and Side Effects

Reishi has been used for thousands of years in all kinds of patients, and very few side effects have ever been recorded. Reishi is classified as “Class 1: Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.”

On occasion, some mild digestive upset and skin rashes may occur, but these side effects seem to go away and are typically only a threat in sensitive people with impaired immune systems.

While said to be safe, effective, and well-tolerated by most people, there are some instances when you want to talk to your doctor before using them on your own. According to studies, reishi appears to be safe for adults when taken by mouth in appropriate doses for up to one year.

If you notice any of the following reishi mushroom side effects, discontinue use immediately and visit your doctor to make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction or experiencing liver toxicity:

  • dryness of the mouth
  • dry or itchy throat
  • itchiness in the nasal area
  • strong indigestion, heartburn, or stomach upset
  • nosebleeds
  • bloody stool
  • skin rashes

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid reishi mushrooms unless under medical supervision. Additionally, if you have had any type of bleeding disorder; recently underwent surgery; take blood pressure medications, blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, or immunosuppressant medications; or have trouble with blood clotting, don’t take reishi mushrooms since they can increase blood pressure, impact blood clotting and increase the risk for bleeding.

Sliced-Reishi-Mushroom-1024x683

         PHOTO SOURCE

*for educational use only. The information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult a qualified physician or health practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any condition. This site is also not to be used as the final word in identification. Never eat anything you haven’t positively identified at least three times before. Please use your common sense and be safe!

References:

All About Foraging and Harvesting Reishi Mushrooms

Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits

Reishi Mushroom: Fight Disease, Boost Immunity & Improve Liver Detox