Benefits of Reishi- The mushroom of “Immortality”

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Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)

This article is designed to take a closer look at the rich effective form of medicine that is Ganoderma Lucidum, Reishi mushroom, or as known in Chinese Medicine as Ling Zhi. Mushrooms have been part of the natural pharmacopeia for thousands of years and have recently regained their popularity in herbal medicine. Reishi is known as a “mushroom of immortality” and is one of the most researched herbs in the world.  It is a effective immune modulator, nervine tonic, and hormone balancing herb that can bring harmony to the body-mind and spirit. In Chinese medicine it is known to nourish the Shen ( Shen translates as Spirit, the body-mind-soul connection) It is also an adaptogen, and I know that word has been thrown around a lot recently but this truly is as it adapts to the individuals needs and how their body responds to stress.

There are no real short term effects felt when taking this herb but more long term impacts on the bodies overall well being. So I like to look at Reishi as a self-care practice as you begin to incorporate it into your daily routine. This herb of longevity can help open your heart, while protecting your cardiovascular system, promote detoxification and liver health while supporting you spiritual growth and benefit your cognitive functions while calming your mind.

According to the Shen Nong's Ben Cao Jing, one of the oldest Chinese Materia Medicas, "Long term consumption of Reishi mushroom will lighten the body and prevent aging, extend one's life, and make one an immortal."

There are many forms to take Reishi such as extracts, pills and tea. I find that the extracts are the most versatile as they can be mixed with hot water and drank as a tea, or mixed into numerous smoothie or beverage recipes. If you look on my products page, I have one of my favorite products listed which is a Reishi extract from Vitajing Herbs.

 Resihi extract is easily added into bullet coffee, smoothies, or made into a simple tea.

Resihi extract is easily added into bullet coffee, smoothies, or made into a simple tea.

Benefits of Reishi Mushroom

  • Detoxification- Studies have shown that Reishi mushroom can help to regenerate liver cells more quickly and can be beneficial to overall liver health.

  • Nourisihing the spirit- Reishi is known to help boost ones spirit and relationship with oneself. This mushrooms benefit to the Shen has been documented for thousands of years within ancient Chinese medical texts.

  • Boosts the Immune system- The immune system is a complex biological system that fights off infection and disease as well as cleanses the body of natural toxins. There are alot of research studies that show the impact of medicinal mushrooms upon the human immune system. Disorders of the immune system can result in autoimmune disease, inflammatory diseases or cancer. One benefit of Reishi is that is contains high levels of beta-glucans, one of the most powerful immune system boosters. 

  • Improves cognitive ability and energy levels- Reishi can help stimulate nerve growth and boost memory and cognitive function.

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health- Reishi has been used in countless studies to show its beneficial impact on cardiovascular health such as coronary heart disease and its impact on lowering blood pressure. Modern day research has studied reishi extracts in conjunction with a variety of conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses with success.

  • Tumor Modulating Impacts- The extract of this mushroom has been used in countless scientific studies in regards to cancer research especially breast cancer. It has proven many times to be beneficial in conjunction with modern day cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation therapy.

  • Improves Respiratory Health- Conditions such as bronchitis, asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions have some big improvement when treated with Reishi extracts. It has shown to help the immune system respond better to histamine reactions and help deter allergic reaction.

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Chinese Medical Anyalsis

Found on page 935-937 within Benskys Materia Medica- one of the main Chinese medical herbal texts, there is a full description of this herb and its properties.

  • Properties -Sweet, Neutral

  • Channels Entered- Heart, Liver, Lung

  • Key Characteristics- Calms the spirit while augmenting Qi, Nourishing Blood

  • Dosage- 3-15 grams in decoction, 1.5-3 grams in pills/powders

  • Cautions/Contraindications- Use with caution in patients with excess conditions, very rare side effects have been reported, they include vertigo, dry mouth/ nose, nausea, epistaxis, constipation or diarrhea

  • Actions/ Indications

    -Calms the spirit, augments Heart Qi, tonifies Heart Blood

    -Tonifies Lung Qi, transforms phlegm, stops cough and wheezing

    -Tonifies Qi, Nourishes the Blood


 Pharmacological effects of Reishi-

The book named Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, discusses Ganoderma Lucidum from a western pharmacological perspective. It is known to have many beneficial aspects and is full of triterpenes, polysaccarides, organic acids, and other constituents such as resins, alkaloids, mannitol, amino acids, glucosamine, purines and coumarin.

  • Immune enhancing properties- helps increase monocytes, macrophages, T-lymphocytes, cytokines, interleukin, tumor necrosis factor and interferon.

  • Cardiovascular- Increases cardiac contractility, lower blood pressure, increase resistance to hypoxia in cardiac muscles.

  • Antibiotic- Broad spectrum antibacterial activity-inhibits growth of E.Coli, B.dysenteriae, Pseudomonas spp., pneumococci, streptococci, staphlococci

  • Other Benefits- Hepatoprotective, Antidiabetic, Antitussive, Expectorant, Sedative, Analgesic, Anti-asthmatic, Anti-neoplastic

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“Besides…

its anti-tumor and immuno-modulatory properties, Reishi also helps counteract stress. The crude extract of Reishi has been found to be more effective in fighting free-radical damage than isolated, synthetic compounds. It also contains bitter triterpenes. These strengthen the circulatory and immune systems, tone the liver and protect the body from physical stress.” - Michael Tierra

Side Effects

You should be aware that Reishi does have some very rare yet known side effects in high doses, including abdominal upset, dizziness, nose bleeds and dry mouth and throat -according to "Natural Pharmacy" author Schuyler W. Lininger.

*Please check in with a well-versed healthcare partitioner if you are planning on incorporating Reishi mushroom into your life especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood disorder, low blood pressure or will be undergoing surgery.


Sources

1. Bensky, D., Gamble, A., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (1993). Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press.

2. Chen, J. K., Chen, T. T., & Crampton, L. (2004). Chinese medical herbology and pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press.

3. Tierra M., Treating Cancer with Herbs: an Integrative Approach. Twin Lakes, Wisc.: Lotus Press; 2003.

4. Lininger, S. W. (1999). The natural pharmacy. Rocklin, CA: Prima Health.