November 18, 2021
Reishi is one of those special herbs that has a deep, wide range of actions that benefit multiple body systems and is also gentle enough for most people to enjoy taking it long-term. (I say "most" because there's always the small chance of any individual not tolerating an herb, or having what's called an "idiosyncratic," or unusual reaction.)
Known as "the mushroom of immortailty," Reishi has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for several thousand years and is held in high regard for supporting health and longevity. It's a rare fungus that mainly on hardwood trees like oak and maple. Due to its rareness and popularity, most Reishi is cultivated instead of taken from the wild.
Reishi is easy to take as a supplement, but working with raw dried Reishi can be a bit challenging. It has a bitter taste and woody texture that is almost impossible to cut through. On top of that, it needs to be simmered in hot water for several hours if you want to make tea. A good way to incorporate it into your diet is to purchase pre-cut or powdered Reishi and add it to long-cooking soups, stews, or broths.
Reishi has no currently known side effects, drug interactions, or contraindications other than mushroom allergies. Although Reishi has a great track record of safety, it's always a good idea to check with your healthcare practitioner before adding a new supplement, especially if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, have serious health conditions, or are taking prescription medications.
Reishi helps regulate the immune system and gently promotes a state of balance and health. It is a rich source of beta glucans, a polysaccharide that increases immune activity. Reishi's action can be described as "immunomodulatory," meaning that it influences the immune system by increasing or decreasing activity when appropriate.
Reishi is an herbal adaptogen. An adaptogenic herb is one that improves the body's response to various physical or emotional stressors and improve energy levels. Adaptogens affect multiple body systems and help build the ability to adapt and handle stress better.
This mushroom has been found to protect the liver from damage and support the liver's activities which include detoxifying the body, cleansing the blood, and producing bile for digestion (Jin, Hai, e.t all, 2013) . It blends well with Milk Thistle extract and Turmeric for liver health. Reishi is also rich in antioxidant compounds and has a general anti-inflammatory effect.
Reishi has a calming effect on the central nervous system. It promotes mental clarity and can help relieve stress-induced insomnia and anxiety (Matsuzaki, et all, 2013). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it's known to "calm the shen." Shen is an all-encompassing term describing the spirit. It is said that the spirit needs to settle in order for deep, restorative sleep. Reishi is one herb that is used to nourish and settle the spirit, or the "shen."
Reishi has been studied for its benefits to the cardiovascular system (the heart and blood vessels.) It has been found to promote mild lowering of blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, and insulin resistance (Chu, et all, 2012).
Chu, T.T., Benzie, I.F., et al, Study of Potential Cardioprotective Effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): Results of a
Controlled Human Intervention Trial, Brit J Nutr, 2012;107:1017-27
Jin, Hai, et al. “Protective Effects of Ganoderma Lucidum Spore on Cadmium Hepatotoxicity in Mice.” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 52, 2013, pp. 171–175., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.05.040.
Matsuzaki, H., Shimizu, Y., et al, Antidepressant-Like Effects of a Water-Soluble Extract From the Culture Medium of
Ganoderma lucidum Mycelia in Rats, BMC Complement Alternat Med, 2013;13:370-8
Chang, C.J., Ganoderma lucidum Reduces Obesity in Mice by Modulating the Composition of the Gut Microbiota, Nat Commun, 2015 Jun 23;6:7489
Chen, M.L., Lin, B.F., Effects of Triterpenoid-Rich Extracts of Ganoderma tsugae on Airway Hyperreactivity and Th2Responses in Vivo, Int Arch Allergy Immunol, 2007;143(1):21-30