This article was written in conjunction with Ayurvedic Practitioner Emily Shaw of Amaveda.
Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum), or Ling Zhi in Chinese, have been used in traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands and thousands of years. Throughout history, Reishi mushroom’s medicinal value has earned it names such as 'the plant of immortality, 'the resurrection elixir, 'the elixir of life, 'the herb of spiritual potency', 'the tonic of kings', and 'lucky fungus' among others, but you get the picture.
In traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi is classified as a 'Shen tonic'. Shen tonics are used to activate higher self and connection to divine, providing feelings of serenity.
The Reishi mushroom contains multiple active ingredients including the most prized – polysaccharides and triterpenes. Polysaccharides are essential in our diet as they lower blood sugar levels, increase artery capacity, improve pancreatic cell function, eliminate free radicals and improve blood cell reproduction in addition to having anti-viral properties.
Triterpenes are steroid like molecules that inhibit histamine release and have anti-inflammatory properties which is one of the reasons why Reishi have such success with allergy relief. Together, these ingredients combat one of the biggest concerns of everyday life... stress.
Also, inflammation is a hot topic in medical research. It is well know these days that inflammation in the body is linked to almost all diseases including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and irritable bowel syndrome to name a few. Bringing an anti-inflammatory supplement into your life is one of the best things one can do in the name of disease prevention.
Adaptogens for stress and more
Anything awarded the very prestigious title of adaptogen or adaptogenic deserves a lot of attention as these plants are essentially tackling today’s biggest health challenge – stress and it's impact. They do this by mainly supporting the adrenal glands and in turn manage the body’s response to stress. We often think of stressors as things that happen to us, such as interrupted sleep, work pressure, or relationship issues for example, but there are also internal stressors that our bodies deal with every day. Examples of these are things like irritable bowls, heavy menstruation, ulcers, bacterial infections or yeast overgrowths.
Adaptogens, beyond managing our stress, are also seen as energy-enhancing, mood improving and promoters of inner balance. They are known as the most prestigious classification of plant medicine because they have a unique (and still not fully understood) ability to adapt their function according to what our body needs, helping us cope with both external and internal stresses.
Reishi mushroom benefits list
• Immune system booster and regulator
• Liver support, both repair and rebuilding
• Cardio tonic
• Arthritis or other anti-inflammatory needs
• Insomnia and anxiety
• Allergies and asthma
• Candida overgrowth
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
How to consume Reishi mushroom
Reishi is generally either:
• Raw and dried, either whole, chunks or powdered
• As an extract in capsules or supplements
• Or in liquid tinctures or tonics
Reishi mushroom tea is earthy, mild and non-offensive to drink, it also happens to lends itself incredibly well to brewed coffee. There are a few different ways to prepare and use Reishi mushrooms. If you choose to use the raw mushrooms this way, you will need to make a decoction (a strong tea or infusion) to draw out the medicinal qualities. Simmer the mushrooms in boiling water for at least 15-20 minutes – they take longer than with delicate herbs. The Reishi tea will keep for days and days so go ahead and make a few litres at a time so you can keep sipping on your brew and enjoy at least one cup a day.
If you choose to take Reishi in tonic form, supplement or capsule, do your research online to find a reputable brand and take as directed. Note that Reishi grow on hardwoods such as maple, oaks and elms so they are very rare to find in the wild therefore most sold today is cultivated commercially. Click here to buy Swanson Premium Reishi Mushroom Supplements Capsules, a popular and notable brand.
However, although Reishi can be found in powder form, it's kind of a waste to try and include it in your diet this way since your body will not uptake the important components. Sprinkling Reishi on your smoothie bowl or adding them to smoothies doesn't do much, so you will get much more for your buck if you take an extract or decoction.
As with all adaptogens, they are safe to take for life and don’t need rest periods like with some plant medicine. It can also take up to 3 months to fully appreciate their effect on you, so don’t expect instant results! Buying Reishi shots or instant pouches really only makes sense if you continue to do so every day. Reishi is non-toxic and can be taken daily without side effects.
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