When a mushroom is nicknamed “the mushroom of immortality,” you know it has something special going on. Reishi has been recognized as a medicinal mushroom for over 2,000 years. Its powerful effects have even been documented in ancient scripts. Reishi mushroom is quickly gaining popularity in the wellness world, but what are its actual health benefits? That’s exactly what we’ll be exploring in this article. Below are five benefits of Reishi mushrooms that have been uncovered through research.
Reishi mushroom’s top benefits:
1. They may help you live longer
First things first, let’s address that whole “mushroom of immortality” thing. While Reishi won’t enable you to live forever, research has suggested that the polysaccharides (or long chains of carbohydrates) in Reishi could increase longevity. The longevity properties of these compounds are thought to be a result of boosting the immune system and preventing abnormal blood vessel formations.
2. They boost the immune system
One of the most well-known effects of Reishi is its ability to enhance immune function through its effects on white blood cells. White blood cells are cells of the immune system which help fight infectious disease and foreign invaders. One study demonstrated that Reishi can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells, while another study showed that Reishi can increase another type of white blood cell called lymphocytes.
3. They help alleviate fatigue, depression, and stress
Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens, meaning they help the body combat stress. In one study of 132 patients suffering from neurasthenia—a condition characterized by mental and physical exhaustion—consumption of Reishi for eight weeks was shown to improve aches, pains, fatigue, and irritability. As evidenced, Reishi’s balancing effect on the body may help to restore physiological function and protect the body from stress-induced dysfunction.
4. They may help fight cancer
Many people turn to Reishi for its potential cancer-fighting properties. In fact, one study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors found that around 59 percent consumed Reishi. While studies in humans are needed, several test-tube studies have demonstrated that Reishi mushrooms can contribute to the death of cancer cells. As mentioned earlier, Reishi has been shown to increase the activity of the body’s white blood cells, which help fight cancer. While these studies are encouraging, researchers state that this mushroom should only be used alongside traditional cancer treatments.
5. They have neuroprotective properties
Preliminary research shows that Reishi may play a role in protecting your brain against some of the diseases that come with aging. In one study in rats, researchers found that Reishi provided neuroprotective effects and increased the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that stimulates the production of new nerve cells and strengthens existing ones. These findings could be important in future research regarding neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Where can Reishi mushrooms be found?
There are a number of different Reishi species and each grows in a different region around the world. They are found on dead and dying trees and typically reach full maturation in late summer into fall. The mushroom itself has a kidney-like shape, a distinctive red-orange color, and a shiny, lacquered finish on top. Another unique feature is that it doesn’t have gills, but rather white flesh on its underside.
Even though Reishi doesn’t have any poisonous look-alikes, it’s recommended that beginner foragers seek the guidance of more experienced foragers and practice caution when harvesting and consuming any wild mushroom.
Find a trusted source for your Reishi mushrooms
If foraging isn’t your thing, you can also purchase Reishi online in supplement form from a reputable supplier. It’s important to understand, however, that not all Reishi supplements are created equal.
Choose a company whose Reishi is sustainably wild harvested or organically cultivated, carefully extracted, and tested for contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, microbes, and gluten. Always check the ingredient label of a Reishi supplement before purchasing it. If it lists any ingredients like “mycelium on grain” or other fillers, it’s best to avoid it. Instead, seek a product that uses fruiting bodies, the part of the mushroom with the most healing compounds.
The bottom line
With its potent immune-boosting properties and ability to regulate stress, Reishi is something that everyone can benefit from. After all, it’s not known as “the mushroom of immortality” for nothing!