Nourish - What’s the Scoop on: Reishi Mushrooms
Today’s topic of conversation are the wonderous reishi mushrooms.
What Are Reishi Mushrooms?
Reishi, or lingzhi as it is known in Chinese medicine has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2000 years. Reishi mushrooms are one of the oldest mushrooms used medicinally and were once reserved for only royalty.
Historically, this mushroom has been used for longevity, vitality and as an immune tonic. Reishi mushrooms grow primarily on dead or dying eastern hemlock trees and are fan-shaped, with orange to reddish-brown colouring.
Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms are used most commonly to:
- support the immune system
- relieve stress and anxiety
- help one to feel more balanced
- help achieve a deeper sleep
Let’s dive in a little deeper…
No. 1 – Powerful Adaptogen
Medicinal mushrooms like Reishi are powerful adaptogens that work with the body. They help it to adapt to the stresses of life and needs of each day, modulating the immune system and stress response along the way. Reishi’s adaptogenic properties help to stabilise the immune system so that it operates at its full potential.
You’ll find this very useful if you’re:
- constantly on public transport
- going on an aeroplane
- moving house
- going through stressful times
- stressing over exams
- heading into the cold and flu season
No. 2 – Helps to Manage Stress
We’re not moving away quite yet from the adaptogenic benefits, as they lead us on to our next health benefit. Stress management.
During stressful situations, the body’s first response is to release a surge of stress hormones. Ultimately, this can throw your body out of sync and leave you feeling stressed out and exhausted. If it’s a continuing stress, it’s likely you’re even having troubles focusing, finding an appetite, digesting your food properly or sleeping properly.
With adaptogens like reishi having your back, they help to keep your system from going into over-drive and guide your body into a state of balance. Basically, they help your body be better able to cope with stressful situations.
So next time you’re feeling stressed, anxious, fatigued, in a hurry or late for a flight; try adding some reishi into your diet instead.
No. 3 – Regulates the Immune System
As I just mentioned, historically, reishi mushrooms have been used for thousands of years as an immune and longevity tonic, and they still live up to this claim.
Reishi helps to boost the body’s immune system to protect it from harmful pathogens, like viruses, parasites and bacteria. Essentially, this mushroom helps to defend you against any nasty bugs or viruses going around.
Reishi mushrooms help to regulate the immune system as well as improve its natural ability to fight invaders.
Reishi also contains the polysaccharide Beta-glucans which act as an immunomodulator. Beta-glucans are known for their ability to modulate the immune system by boosting it when needed or slowing it down if too much activity is taking place (aka the adaptogenic response).
No. 4 – Rich in Antioxidants
Reishi is a great source of antioxidants which is where it gets its delightful nickname “the mushroom of immortality”. And although they won’t actually make you live forever, they do contain a good whack of antioxidant properties that help reduce premature ageing and even the risk of disease.
Antioxidants are compounds found in food that stop or delay damage to the cells caused by oxidants. These oxidants are free radicals found in the environment, and come from things like cigarette smoke, pollution, stress etc. or from normal metabolism in the body.
Reishi’s high antioxidant can help:
- reduce signs of skin ageing and internal signs of cellular ageing
- help to protect cellular DNA from oxidant damage (that also causes ageing)
- support cellular regeneration
- protect against cellular damage
All of this leads to a good healthy boost to your longevity and vitality, and we can never have too many foods that do that for us in our diets, can we?
No. 5 – Hormone Balancing
Reishi helps to balance hormones thanks to the specific triterpene compounds in the fruiting bodies of the reishi mushroom. These help to support and balance the endocrine system, thus helping your body to relax, recover, repair, improve sleep and your overall ability to function well during the day.
Speak to a trained herbalist, naturopath or nutritionist for advice on using Reishi during pregnancy and for postpartum care. It’s super safe and extremely well researched.
No. 6 – Helps Improve Sleep
When consumed in continuous, small doses, reishi shows to be supportive of the body’s sleep cycles. Thanks to the compound triterpene, reishi may help increase your quality of sleep and the duration. And as we all know, sleep is very important. It supports:
- energy levels
- a healthy immune system
- maintained healthy weight levels
- healthy hormone levels
- the ability to function at an optimal level all day
- and many many more things!
Personally, I love to take Four Sigmatic cacao reishi before bed as a way of winding down and relax. It’s wonderfully calming and means I’ll wake up feeling refreshed.
No. 7 – Supports Liver Health
And once more, I shall wail on about the adaptogenic benefits of Reishi mushrooms, but this time we’re talking about liver health. Did you know that stress, environmental toxins, and our ability to handle alcohol and fatty foods can cause our liver to struggle?
If you find you are always:
- feel tired, irritated, bloated
- have skin breakouts such as acne
- perspire constantly
- feel hot all the time
Then you may need some liver-love in your life.
Now, although taking some reishi now and then won’t be the final answer, it certainly can help to support you along with additional adjustments to your diet and lifestyle. How so? Because it is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to the stressors.
Plus, reishi also contains triterpenes (in particular Ganoderic acid) which have been shown to boost liver functionality. And we haven’t even mentioned the antioxidant benefits and supportive functions towards the liver, like promotion of liver cell regeneration. Reishi is great wee mushroom to have on your side.
No. 8 – Cardiovascular Health Support
Reishi’s polysaccharides are also credited to lowering blood pressure, stabilising blood sugar and even lowering cholesterol. Both triterpenes and beta-glucans may reduce total cholesterol and LDL—commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.”
Plus we also have reishi’s antioxidant profile to help protect against oxidative damage. And as we know, oxidative stress may be a contributing factor for high blood pressure. And those suffering with it are more prone to cardiovascular health issues, such as heart attacks and strokes.
No. 9 – Help for Seasonal Allergies
Some studies show that the compound Ganoderic acid found in reishi mushrooms may have antihistamine effects that could help improve the body’s oxygen supply. This is especially important to those suffering from seasonal allergies.
Histamine is the chemical responsible for allergic reactions. When exposed to allergens, the body releases histamines which cling to cells. This causes symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose. Since this reishi may help inhibit the histamine reaction, it is highly likely to be helpful for allergies. Taking 1,000 mg of reishi daily may help to reduce or clear allergy symptoms.
How to take Reishi Mushrooms
Traditionally, reishi mushroom was used to make a healing tea, but nowadays you can easily add it into your daily routine in a powdered form. Simply mix it into smoothies, shakes, coffee, tea or with hot water.
Personally, I would recommend Four Sigmatic’s Hot Cacao with Reishi – 10 Sachets which is a combination of Cacao Powder, Coconut Palm Sugar, Cinnamon, Cardamon and Stevia and makes a great entryway into reishi. Reishi can be quite bitter, and some find it hard to palate. Each packet contains 500 mg of log-grown red reishi mushroom dual-extract, with at least 30 per cent polysaccharides, more than 15 per cent beta-glucans and 2 per cent triterpenes. No starch, sugars, or any fillers. Mix it with some heated Oatly barista milk – mmm yes!
What’s Dual Extraction?
Dual extraction offers the maximum benefit. In this process, the fat-soluble and water-soluble properties are extracted separately to get a high potency finished product. Alcohol extraction extracts the fat-soluble compounds by essentially creating a tincture and using a long and slow extraction. Then, mushrooms are boiled and simmered to extract the maximum amount of water-soluble compounds. The combined extract then gets concentrated and spray dried to create a powder.
Alternatively, other methods may just make a tincture (fat-soluble compounds only) or simply ground up powdered mushrooms that you add water to. Personally, I recommend that you always look for a mushroom extract.
Naturally, we have other options, including Four Sigmatic Reishi Elixir, Om Organic Reishi, Irish Botanicals Reishi caps, Terra Nova Reishi caps.
If medicinal mushrooms are your jam, then have a read over the following blog posts to learn more:
- What’s the Scoop on: Chaga Mushroom
- What’s the Scoop on: Cordyceps Mushroom
- Candida Overgrowth – Herbs, Medicinal Mushrooms and Supplements – Part IV
- Support Your Immune System Now with These 5 Things
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication
Please note: If you’re currently taking blood pressure medication, consult with your doctor before taking reishi mushrooms—the combination could lower your BP to dangerous levels. The same goes for if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, about to have surgery or have any type of blood disorder or high/low blood pressure.