The Reishi Mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi
Reishi Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum or Ganoderma tsugae, is also known as “lingzhi,” which translates to “spiritual, miraculous, sacred and effective mushroom” in Chinese.
Reishi Mushroom is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years and is considered as the “mushroom of immortality”.
The first textual mentions of Reishi Mushroom date back to the Han dynasty, over 2,000 years ago, when Chinese healers discovered medicinal properties. Ancient Chinese scripts documented the mushroom as an “elixir of immortality”. In addition to these texts, Reishi Mushroom has also shown up in ancient artworks related to Taoism. Going back even further, ancient carvings, paintings, and furniture featuring Reishi have been discovered. One of the first texts to document the medicinal value of herbs was Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, written during the Chinese Han dynasty. Within the book, botanical, zoological, and mineral substances are recorded. Reishi is featured and described as a mushroom with therapeutic properties, anti-aging effects, tonifying effects, strengthening cardiac function, enhancing vital energy, and increasing memory capability. In 1596, the Bencao Gangmu, a compendium of medicinal material, was published listing 6 subspecies of Reishi Mushroom for different medicinal benefits.
Wild Reishi remains a rare commodity, and before people began cultivating and growing it, access was mostly limited to Chinese nobility. As the years went by, it became a staple for many people across all of Asia. Reishi mushroom remains a commonly used traditional treatment for many ailments across modern-day Asia, and its use in western cultures is starting to grow dramatically as well.
Reishi Mushroom Benefits
Reishi is being increasingly used across the world to assist with general health and wellness. As many as 279 bioactive compounds have been isolated from Reishi as of 2015. Accordingly, to researches, Reishi Mushrooms have many health beneficial properties.
1. Reishi Mushrooms and Anti – Inflammation
Reishi mushrooms exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, extracts taken from the mushroom showed it to be both potentially good oral and topical anti-inflammatory agents. Orally, extracts contribute to an increase in blood flow and therefore might prove a useful treatment for some inflammation-related conditions. When topically applied, the isolated compound in the mushroom was found to be as effective as the hormone cortisol, which is found in many topical medications. Reishi mushrooms do not have the toxic effects seen in many over the counter anti-inflammatory medications.
2. Reishi Mushrooms and Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
Reishi mushrooms can also positively affect blood pressure and cholesterol. Because it can increase blood flow, the mushroom may prove to have a natural ability to lower blood pressure. Medical research also notes patients who consume Reishi mushroom extract have decreased LDL (bad) and increased HDL (good) cholesterol.
3. Reishi Mushrooms and Antioxidant Property
Reishi mushrooms contain a wealth of antioxidants. In one study, Reishi mushroom extract effectively curbed oxidative stress in tissue and prevented damage to the liver. In another study, the extract demonstrated potent antioxidant activity, protecting hemoglobin from oxidative damage. These results suggest Reishi mushrooms contain tremendous antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help the body combat free radicals which cause cell damage due to oxidation.
4. Reishi Mushrooms and Anti – Cancer
Fungi are being used around the world to help combat cancer. One of the varieties used is the Reishi mushroom. The Chinese use Reishi to improve vitality, strength, and stamina, and to prolong life in cancer patients. It is not a replacement for other treatments, however, and is generally used in conjunction with chemotherapy, not in place of it. Reishi mushrooms help enhance immune system response which helps to prevent sickness in people with cancer who already have weakened immune systems. They also alleviate chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and kidney damage.
5. Reishi Mushrooms and Liver Health
Your liver is responsible for detoxification but does not always function at peak performance. Drinking too much or eating too many processed foods can take a toll. The liver’s most important job is to cleanse the body of impurities. A 2013 study found evidence that Reishi mushrooms can fight harmful immune responses that can slow down liver function. The adaptogenic properties of Reishi mushrooms help flush out waste and toxins from the body.
6. Reishi Mushrooms and Altitude Sickness
Reishi mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine to combat altitude sickness. The fungus works by improving the body’s intake of oxygen which consequently improves breathing and lessens the dizziness and short breath common with altitude sickness. For this reason, Reishi mushroom extract has been used by mountain climbers for decades to prevent these symptoms on difficult climbs.
7. Reishi Mushrooms and Seizures
A study published by the National Institutes of Health concluded Reishi mushrooms have anticonvulsant effects. The study looked only at kainic acid (KA)-induced seizures, but the promise of the plant could be more widespread, and further research is underway. Stress can exacerbate seizures, and research has also found the mushrooms help reduce stress, enabling the nervous system to function better.
8. Reishi Mushrooms and the Heart
Reishi mushrooms are a very heart-healthy food. If you already eat mushrooms, so you may want to consider adding this variety to your shopping list. For one, these mushrooms help minimize cholesterol and fatty acids in the blood. This, in turn, helps prevent strokes, clogged arteries, and other heart problems. Reishi promotes heart health and helps balances blood pressure. Best of all, this happens naturally with no synthetic medicines! Tests and studies show the mushroom can even reverse the effects of cardiovascular disease. In one study, seventy-eight percent of participants showed improvement in cardiovascular health after taking Reishi mushrooms.
9. Reishi Mushrooms and Fatigue and Depression
Reishi mushroom could be useful for reducing fatigue, depression and improving quality of life. A study of 132 people found subjects experienced less fatigue after just eight weeks on a diet that included the mushrooms. In the same study, many subjects reported an improvement in their general sense of wellbeing, as well as fewer feelings of depression and anxiety.
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Reishi Mushroom Warnings
While consumption of this mushroom is safe, you can ingest too much. It is not recommended to take the powdered form for more than 30 days, because this form is very concentrated. There is also a link between powdered Reishi and liver damage. Some side effects of over-consuming the mushrooms include
o Dry mouth
o Dry throat
o Nasal dryness along with itchiness
o Stomach upset
o Bloody stools
As with any supplement, consult your primary care provider. Never stop taking prescription medicine without first consulting your doctor. Finally, avoid Reishi mushrooms if you have low blood pressure or thrombocytopenia.