Medicinal mushrooms are currently gaining a lot of attention in the wellness world, with reishi mushrooms taking center stage. Affectionately known as the “queen of the mushroom kingdom,” reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years to promote health and longevity.
Recently, though, reishi mushrooms have stepped into the superfood spotlight in the Western world and even made their way to Tinseltown. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Katie Perry have touted the mushroom for being a bain medicine and for its weight loss properties.
This fungi has some powerful health benefits and is most commonly tied to longevity, mental clarity, and supporting a healthy immune system. Quite simply, it’s the epitome of a superfood.
What are Reishi Mushrooms?
Reishi mushroom, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum, is the most popular and esteemed superfood mushroom in the world. It has a fan-shaped appearance with a distinctive red/orangey color and is one of the most beautiful mushrooms to look at.
Originating in Asia, reishi is also found in North America and Europe and thrives in humid climates. It’s not very common in the wild and has mostly been cultivated due to its high demand.
Reishi mushrooms are edible but are known to have a tough texture and bitter taste, unpleasant to many. Therefore, they’re best consumed in extract form. Today, they’re available in a variety of forms, including tinctures, capsules, powders, tea, beauty products, and more.
6 Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
Traditionally known as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” thanks to its wide range of longevity-promoting, reishi is a true superfood. It works with the body to help manage day-to-day physical, mental, and emotional stressors and restore balance.
Here are six of the key reasons reishi mushrooms are the superfood of the moment
Support the Immune System
Reishi mushrooms are rich in powerful beta-glucans - natural polysaccharides known for activating and stimulating the immune system. As reported by The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, the immune system cells of animals that were fed beta-glucans became more active.
Additionally, studies have shown that reishi affects the genes in white blood cells. This is significant because white blood cells are responsible for protecting the immune system against infection.
Relieve Stress and Boosts Mood
Reishi mushrooms are powerful adaptogens that help normalize the body and regulate the release of stress hormones that influence emotion and mood. Simply put, adaptogens help the body cope with the effects stress can have on overall health.
A 2012 study conducted on breast cancer patients found that those who consumed reishi experienced a reduction in anxiety and depression, while those who didn't consume the mushroom did not.
Improves Heart Health
Some of the most powerful compounds found in reishi are triterpenes. These substances have been shown to aid in the reduction of cholesterol. Beta-glucans - also found in abundance in reishi - also reportedly have cholesterol-lowering effects.
One study done by the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong reported that reishi “may increase good ‘HDL’ cholesterol and decrease triglycerides.” These are both indicators of overall heart disease risk.
Boosts Brain Health and is Neuro-protective
Reishi has long been touted for its ability to boost brain power, improve mental focus, and enhance memory.
The polysaccharides and triterpene compounds found in the mushroom both exhibit significant neuroprotective effects. Specifically, polysaccharides have the potential to promote neurogenesis and improve cognitive functions. As discovered in this 2008 study, they may help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Promotes Better Sleep
Reishi mushrooms are also well-known for their ability to promote better sleep. Traditionally, Chinese and Japanese herbalists recommended the mushroom for insomnia for this reason. Some report that these sleep-inducing properties are due to a reduction in stress. However, others describe the mushroom as a tranquilizing agent with sedative effects. Whatever the reason, reishi could help those looking to get a better night’s rest.
May Help Lower Blood Pressure
According to a 2014 rat study, reishi mushrooms may be able to reduce blood pressure. However, it’s important to consult with a doctor if you are currently on blood pressure medication since the combination could lower the blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Reishi mushrooms have taken the world by storm with their wide array of potential health benefits. From boosting the immune system and relieving stress to improving heart health and promoting better sleep, reishi is the superfood everyone needs to add to their health and wellness regime.