Updated: Jan 30
The reishi mushroom is getting a lot of press lately. Is it really all that? Yes. Reishi is a big deal.
Discovered in China around 396 BC, reishi was popular with the emperors – the only ones allowed to use it – who claimed it contained the power to live forever. They started calling it “The Mushroom of Immortality.” While that title is certainly an exaggeration, the truth is that reishi contains well over 400 elements that contribute to health and longevity.
The volume of research studies trumpeting the health benefits of reishi is too extensive to cover in a simple blog. So, I’ll try to give you just the highlights. If this piques your interest, you can conduct your own online search or contact me for my notes. In short, reishi boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of life-shortening conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Reishi mushrooms contains the molecules (polysaccharides) that build the immune system by activating immune cells and increasing the process where the good cells in our body engulf pathogens that could result in disease. Rather than stimulating the immune system, as echinacea does, reishi actually regulates the inflammatory response. Thus, it can be helpful in both instances of a hyper-active immune system (autoimmune degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and chronic allergies and more) and under/hypo-active immune system (often the case with colds and other viruses).
Reishi is currently the focus of many studies in cancer research. At this point, reishi is not considered a replacement or cure for cancer treatments, but it has been shown to enhance the benefits of chemotherapy and prevent sickness in cancer patients with already weakened immune systems. Reishi has also been shown to alleviate chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and kidney damage.
Reishi has also been shown to help regenerate and protect the liver, normalize cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, and many other heart benefits. And reishi has a very alkaline nature which helps to neutralize acid buildup in the body. I could go on and on singing the praises of Reishi, The Mushroom of Immortality… My husband says this is likely too long already...
Tips for Using Reishi
While technically an edible mushroom, reishi is nearly impossible to eat because it is tough and has a very bitter taste. It can be brewed into tea with a brew time of at least one hour, preferably longer. I prefer the tincture form – it is easy to use and tinctures last "forever".
Reishi is not a quick fix for either acute or chronic disease. It is one of a handful of tinctures that can be taken daily and long term (if taken in small doses, which seems to be more effective than large doses anyway). In a couple of weeks you should notice some improvement in energy level, feel less impact of stress, possibly better attitude in general . In a month, you will feel stronger still. Over time, it can actually help you to avoid getting sick. Long term use of reishi promotes overall general health and longevity, and keeps a person’s agility intact into the later seasons of life.
Now, an important word of precaution. Avoid reishi if you take blood-thinning medication or have mushroom allergies – stop using if you develop allergy symptoms of any sort. And of course, if you are currently taking prescription medications, it’s always good to check with your doctor before starting any herbal product or other supplements.
You can make your own reishi tincture, and I will post instructions in a future blog. While certainly doable, it is a bit more labor intensive than other tinctures.
If you want to purchase a reishi tincture of very high quality, I have them available on my website.
As always, contact me with any questions. And please comment with your thoughts or experiences with reishi or other medicinal mushrooms.