Benefits of Reishi mushrooms have been exalted for centuries. The Chinese have used them for over 2000 years and call them the elixir of life. Today, they are used for treating many illnesses. Once people learn the benefits, Reishi mushrooms often become part of their herbal medicine chest.
What Is Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushroom, or Ganoderma lucidum, is related to the button mushroom so many people enjoy them in their salads and in sautés. This mushroom, however, has far higher value than just a tasty addition to your favorite dishes. The medicinal benefits of Reishi mushrooms are many.
Known as the "phantom mushroom" in Japan, Reishi mushrooms are rare and difficult to find. Out of 10,000 dead trees ideal for growing mushrooms, only two will actually produce the elusive Reishi mushroom. Reishi have no gills like other mushrooms. Instead, they have a cork-like underside which releases spores. Fortunately, they are now cultivated in the United States, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. The mushrooms are produced over a course of two years from spore to harvest.
The most commonly used Reishi mushrooms are the red variety, though there are actually six colors that can be grown, including:
Studies supporting the health benefits of Reishi have been conducted on the red variety, therefore, most supplements you purchase will be made from the red Ganoderma lucidum variety shown in the image above.
The Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
Is a mushroom so difficult to find and so arduous to cultivate really worth it? After examining the benefits of Reishi mushrooms, you will likely agree it is well worth the effort.
Reishi mushrooms are rich in triterpenes and polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates known to help stabilize blood sugar, regulate blood pressure and produce antioxidants that may protect the body from cancer-causing free radicals. They also have an immune-boosting effect that appear to help produce T-cells that fight cancer cells in the body.
Triterpenes act as an antihistamine as well as an anti-inflammatory. Together, these substances may help to treat:
- Inflammatory conditions
- High blood pressure
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- High Cholesterol
- Sleep problems
- Much more
Reishi mushrooms can also help to boost the anti-oxidant effect of vitamins A, C and E making them more powerful when taken together. This mushroom is also noted for its anti-viral qualities, making it a good choice to treat herpes and other viral infections. If you struggle with brain fog, Reishi mushrooms may provide help again. Combined in capsules with ginkgo, gotu kola and dried blueberry, you may see your mental focus sharpen.
Taking Reishi Mushroom
If you would like to try Reishi mushroom as a medicinal supplement, you will discover that it comes in various forms. Reishi can be purchased as a capsule, tablet, tincture, tea or syrup. You should never take Reishi mushroom raw. It must be boiled to kill any bacteria that grew on it during cultivation.
Typical therapeutic doses would be one and a half grams of dried Reishi or 150 to 900 mg if it is in tablet or capsule form. Exact doses will depend on what you are trying to treat and what form you are taking. It is best to follow the directions on the package or those given to you by your health care provider.
Reishi mushroom should not be taken is you are pregnant or nursing a baby because potential side effects are not known. It should also be avoided, or taken under the watchful eye of your doctor, if you are taking blood thinning medications because Reishi also has a blood thinning property.
Overall, Reishi mushroom is very safe. However, if you are allergic to mushrooms it is probably wise to avoid Reishi as well. For best results, only take Reishi for three months at a time. Take a one month break and then resume for another three months.
If you notice stomach problems, a dry mouth, nose bleeds, itching or dizziness, you should stop taking Reishi mushroom; you may be exhibiting an allergy to it.
Reishi mushroom has many benefits and side effects are very rare. As always, notify your doctor if you begin taking Reishi or any other herb or supplement. There is always the possibility of a reaction with any current medications, as the herbs you take could reduce the effectiveness of your medications.