What Is Reishi Mushroom?
Reishi is a medicinal mushroom which is hailed as ‘the most superior of all herbs’ in Shen Nong’s book of herbal medicine. There are six main species of reishi, with the glossy red duanwood variety being the most nutrient dense type. Red duanwood reishi grows naturally on dead logs around the world, particularly in parts of China.
With its powerful rejuvenating properties that have been documented for well over 2,000 years, it’s no surprise that reishi is known as the superstar of tonic herbalism.
A Brief History of Reishi
In 2730 BC, the Chinese Emperor and herbalist, Shen Nong, catalogued over 300 plants to create one of the first texts on herbalism. This extensive handbook reveals preparation methods and evaluates the effectiveness of plants, herbs and mushrooms for treating different kinds of illnesses. The book is still used today, and it sets the foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Several ancient Taoist texts also mention reishi as a mushroom which will bring happiness and health to those who consume it. These texts recommend brewing whole raw reishi mushrooms in hot water for several hours to create a tonic elixir. Nowadays, a concentrated extract powder provides an easier way to reap the benefits of reishi without having to prepare it.
The historic importance of reishi is reflected in ancient artifacts, as the beautiful mushroom was often immortalised in paintings, statues and even embroidered onto silk robes which were worn by Emperors.
Reishi Mushroom: Health Benefits At A Glance
- Immune Modulator: Supports and strengthens the immune system
- Antiviral: Helps to induce interferon production
- Anti-Bacterial: May help to protect against streptococci and staphylococci
- Memory Enhancer: Helps to improve cognitive development
- Antioxidant: Eliminates hydroxyl free radicals
- Anti-Aging: The absorption of free radicals helps to naturally slow down the aging process
- Anti-Inflammatory: May help to relieve arthritis and muscle aches
- Liver Tonic: Helps to protect, tonify and detoxify the liver
- Calming: Reduces anxiety and quietens the mind for meditation
- Lowers Blood Pressure: Triperines naturally lower blood pressure levels
- Alleviate Allergies: Ganoderic acids and lanostane can inhibit histamine release in the body
- Adaptogenic: Helps the body to naturally deal with stress
- Safe to Use: The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia states there are no severe reported side effects
Reishi’s Immune-Strengthening Properties
Reishi is packed full of the good stuff including antioxidants, bio-actives, water-soluble polysaccharides, triterpenes (ganoderic acid) and amino acids.
Reishi is commonly used to support the immune system; recent trials have suggested it may hold promise as an adjunct to conventional treatments, but further studies are still needed. Reishi contains polysaccharides which have been shown to naturally increase the production of macrophages and T-cells. T-cells are types of white blood cells which play a vital role in maintaining the health of the immune system by recognising and attacking harmful ‘invaders’. In addition to this, reishi contains canthaxanthin which displays antitumor properties, as well as beta glucans which are immunomodulators that can strengthen the immune system and fight infections.
As well as these immune-enhancing benefits, reishi also displays powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A research study by the University of Texas Health and Science Center found that one dose of reishi displays the same anti-inflammatory effects as five milligrams of hydrocortisone.e.
Taking Reishi to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Reishi, also known as lingzhi, has been consumed by priests, monks, yogis and spiritual seekers for thousands of years to aid long periods of meditation. Out of all the medicinal mushrooms, reishi is the most sacred and ‘spiritually potent’ substance as it has grounding, centering and calming effects for the mind and body.
Reishi is one of only 16 proven adaptogenic herbs. The naturopath, Edward Wallace, explains that “an adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action; it helps you respond to any influence or stressor by normalizing your physiological functions, which means that it is able to help your body to better respond to both mental and physical stresses”.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, reishi restores chi throughout the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys to promote blood circulation and detoxification. Reishi nurtures both jing and qi, and it also has particularly potent shen-enhancing qualities. Shen is a subtle yang energy, which when balanced provides us with feelings of calm, peace and serenity.
How to Incorporate Reishi Into Your Diet
Raw reishi mushrooms are not edible, let alone have any real health benefits, so hours of careful preparation is required to transform them into an elixir that can be easily digested by the body. You can add whole or sliced dried raw reishi mushroom to a gallon of water, bring it to a boil and then simmer it for two hours. However, the easiest way to incorporate reishi into your diet is to use a concentrated extract powder that is made from log-grown duanwood reishi.
High-quality reishi does have a distinctive woody and bitter taste, which can be masked with a touch of natural sweetener, spices and nut milk. Many become accustomed to the taste over time, and even use a cup of reishi as a morning ‘pick me up’ instead of coffee. Reishi can also be added to soups, sauces, dips, ice creams and sprinkled over healthy foods for an added dose of goodness.
Nicknamed the panacea polypore because of its multiple health benefits, reishi will make an excellent addition to any diet.
Reishi Powder vs Reishi Extract Powder?
Reishi powder and reishi concentrated extract powders are two completely different things; concentrated extract powders are much more potent than standard powders, plus they are ready to consume and can be easily absorbed by the body.
If you do choose to use an extract, we offer the highest quality duanwood-reishi concentrated powder. We transform 10 pounds of log-grown duanwood reishi into one pound of pure extract powder, which means that every spoonful contains ten times more nutrients than the raw mushroom. The reishi is sourced from a pristine part of China and carefully prepared according to traditional methods with nothing added or taken away. The finely-milled powder is ready to use, so simply add half to one teaspoon to your drink and enjoy. Visit the shop to view our range of natural tonics, superfoods and medicinal mushrooms.
 Willard, Terry: Reishi Mushroom: Herbs of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder
 Nong, Shen: Shennong Bencaojing (The Classic of Herbal Medicine)