Reishi mushrooms are among the most beneficial fungi in the world when it comes to your health. How could something that grows on rotting tree trunks and logs be so wonderful?
Let’s find out by exploring the wonders of Reishi mushrooms.
What are Reishi mushrooms?
Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderum lucidum) have long been a staple part of traditional Chinese medicine. Practitioners of this ancient medicine practice have been using the Reishi mushroom for more than two millennia to calm the mind, sharpen concentration, enhance willpower, impart wisdom, and more, and it’s still popular today. That says a lot about this fungus!
Reishi mushrooms [reportedly] were first discovered by Chinese healers more than 2,000 years ago in the frigid Changbai Mountains. Healers attributed anti-aging qualities to this mushroom and used it to create elixirs for immortality and wellness.
Reishi was believed to have the power to revitalize the body from within and contribute to longevity. Little did those healers know back then what scientists have discovered now: that the Reishi contains a wealth of nutrients associated with anti-aging.
Often referred to as the “souls mushroom” or the “King of Mushrooms,” the Reishi mushroom also holds another title: adaptogen. This means the fungus has an ability to help the body restore balance and cope with or manage tension, stress, and fatigue. This is a quality that many people find quite helpful given today’s fast-paced society.
Although we cannot avoid stress—and in fact some stress is healthy—we can help the body adjust to its negative effects. An adaptogen such as Reishi works with the body to adjust how it responds to physical, emotional, or chemical stress, helps resist the impact of stress, and brings it back to equilibrium.
Another thing you should know about Reishi mushrooms is that they are a member of an elite class of natural substances called Superior Herbs. An analysis of the history of herb usage shows that more than 30,000 herbs have been used to improve or maintain health. However, only about 60 have ever qualified as Superior. This is an extreme honor in Asian herbal systems, and Reishi mushrooms are at the top of the Superior list.
To meet the Superior qualification, an herb:
- Must be safe for daily use by nearly anyone
- Must serve as a tonic for or improve the function of at least one of the five major organ systems associated with traditional Chinese medicine
- Must build and restore at least one of the major energies (qi, essence or spirit) that are viewed as the primary, rejuvenating forces upon which all living things depend.
Where can you find Reishi mushrooms?
Want to find Reishi mushrooms in the wild? Pack your suitcase and head to Asia. You’d most likely find them at the base of deciduous hardwood trees growing in temperate or tropical climates, but especially in the Changbai Mountains. However, because they are a rare find in the wild, you’d spend hours looking for them. If you did happen to find them, look for red and purple Reishi mushrooms as they are considered to be the most desirable.
What are the health benefits of Reishi mushrooms?
In addition to its ability to bring your body back into balance and alleviate stress and tension, Reishi mushrooms also possess other great qualities. These qualities are believed to be related to the presence of certain substances, including beta-D-glucans and ganoderic acids. These compounds provide powerful immune and liver support, contain antioxidant powers (i.e., protect cells against the damaging effects of free radicals), inhibit the release of histamine and much, much more.
Reishi mushrooms also harbor triterpenes, which boost the body’s ability to use oxygen and help with vital organ functioning. Experts believe Reishi’s beta-D-glucans enhance immune function.
Fatigue and depression: Cancer treatments are often accompanied by fatigue and depression, and Reishi mushroom supplements may come to the rescue. In a study published in 2012, experts found that use of Reishi mushroom powder showed promise in women being treated using endocrine therapy for breast cancer. Women who took the mushroom supplement had an improvement in fatigue and a reduction in symptoms of depression.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Compounds present in Reishi mushrooms could deliver a one-two punch to cytokines, the inflammatory proteins found in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Cytokines have a role in progression of the disease and may even be responsible for starting it. In a 2007 study, the authors reported that the Reishi mushroom inhibited the production and spread of cytokines.
Blood pressure. In animal research, use of Reishi mushrooms has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Researchers tested this idea in rats with hypertension and found that after seven weeks of treatment, rats who received the fungi showed a reduction in blood pressure similar to that seen with a common antihypertensive drug, losartan.
Liver health: Some research suggests that Reishi mushrooms can help protect the liver, the organ that is most responsible for the critical job of filtering toxins out of the body. The results of a study in 42 adults suggested that Reishi mushrooms were effective in protecting the liver.
Sleep: Animal research suggests that Reishi mushrooms can reduce the effect of anxiety on sleep. In one such study, Reishi mushrooms significantly reduced the time it took to fall asleep and improved sleeping time, non-REM (rapid eye movement), and light sleep time. All of these benefits may improve the overall quality of your sleep.
It is irresponsible to say, at this time, to suggest using Reishi in place of accepted medical therapies for any type of disease. Studies like these do show, however, just how profound Reishi can be in supporting daily health.
How much Reishi mushroom supplement should you take?
It depends on which supplement you choose and why you want to take it. First, the best reishi mushroom supplement to take should say “100 percent mushroom extract” or “100 percent mushroom fruiting body extract” on the label. These are high-quality products that readily provide their nutrients to the body.
Supplements that list their ingredients (often in the “other ingredient” section of a label) as “mycelia,” “mycelium,” or any combination of these terms should be avoided because they are primarily grain-based. That means you get a lot of starch but far less real Reishi nutrition.
If you want to help maintain your current state of health, use 500 to 1000 mg daily of a high-quality Reishi extract. If you are under a great deal of stress or want to see specific health improvements, you can safely take up to 5,000 mg daily.
Reishi extracts are available in various strengths. A 500-mg capsule of a 1:1 Reishi extract would provide 500 mg of Reishi nutrition. Other products might contain stronger extracts (4:1, 8:1, etc.) These products can deliver over 2,000 mg of Reishi nutrition per capsule for a stronger yet equally convenient dose.
What are the side effects of Reishi mushroom supplements?
In the vast majority of people, there are virtually no side effects. However, because we’re all different, it’s a good idea to consult with your health professional before starting any supplement. In rare cases, some people may experience mild side effects like dry mouth or throat, upset stomach, diarrhea, and a few other minor symptoms if they take the powdered form for more than 30 days.
If you don’t want to travel to Asia, make it easier for yourself and pick up a bottle of MyPure Reishi. The mushrooms used in this product are non-GMO, certified organic Royal Red Reishi mushrooms, and are extracted using hot water, which maximizes the bioavailability of nutrients. You can expect to experience significant health benefits from Reishi mushroom supplements if you choose high-quality products like Pure Essence’s line of MyPure whole fruity body mushroom extracts.
Chiu HF et al. Triterpenoids and polysaccharide peptides-enriched Ganoderma lucidum: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its antioxidation and hepatoprotective efficacy in healthy volunteers. Pharmaceutical Biology 2017 Dec; 55(1) 1041
Chu QP et al. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum potentiates pentobarbital-induced sleep via a GABA. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior 2007 Apr; 86(4); 693-98
Ho YW et al. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide peptide reduces the production of proinflammatory cytokines in activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblast. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 2007 Jul; 301(1-2): 173-79
Jiang J et al. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells PC-3. International Journal of Oncology 2004 May; 24(5): 1093-99
Sheveley OB et al. Hypotensive and neurometabolic effects of intragastric Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) administration in hypertensive ISIAH rat strain. Phytomedicine 2018 Mar 1; 41:1-6
Zhao H et al. Spore powder of Ganoderma lucidum improves cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing endocrine therapy: a pilot clinical trial. Evidence Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2012; 2012:809614