Reishi Mushroom Benefits & the Healing Powers of Nature
Did you see that Gwyneth Paltrow recently claimed that reishi mushrooms were her new brain medicine? We’re here to give you the full scoop. Eastern medicine has always found a way to make use of many different plants and fungi, and most recently, the reishi mushroom is particularly popular here in the U.S. In terms of health, reishi mushroom benefits are plentiful, including boosting the immune system, balancing stress, improving liver function, and fighting cancer. Basically, it’s the new superfood that we’re definitely keeping an eye on. If you’re also keeping reishi mushrooms on your radar, we’ll break down the key facts you need to know before you buy.
What are Reishi Mushrooms?
The reishi mushroom is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia. Grown on logs, reishi mushrooms come in red or dark-colored hues with shiny tops, and it’s the red variety that is believed to come with the most benefits, growing on oak and plum trees (1). They’re rare mushrooms and have been a staple in Eastern medicine for centuries, as within the mushroom, there are several molecules that may be responsible for its health benefits.
In fact, reishi mushrooms are such a rare find in nature that they were typically reserved for royalty when they were first used in Asian culture. While the mushrooms themselves can be eaten fresh, it is also common to use powdered forms of the mushroom or extracts that contain these specific molecules to get the full reishi mushroom benefits. If you’re curious about the taste, some people describe it as a bitter taste with a tough and woody texture.
Today, reishi mushrooms are grown commercially and sold in a variety of ways. China is one of the largest producers of reishi mushrooms globally, but they’re also used in Korea, Japan, and other Asian-Pacific countries. As reishi mushroom benefits are widely known in traditional Chinese medicine, they’re also known as the "Elixir of Life” and the "Mushroom of Immortality", and traditionally used to treat high blood pressure, arthritis, palpitations, and insomnia. Now, the market is expected to experience a growing demand for reishi mushrooms.
Why Have Reishi Mushrooms Grown in Popularity?
According to Medical News Today, reishi mushrooms contain peptides, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, and amino acids that have made them catch the attention of health and wellness enthusiasts. They’re mainly known for their cell-regenerating and immune-boosting potential, which goes a long way in the beauty community. Since they’re now grown commercially, there are plenty of ways to get reishi mushroom benefits, including in tea, tinctures, capsules, hot cocoa, beauty products, and even energy bars. People have started grinding them into powder or using extracts to make supplements and get their daily intake of reishi mushroom benefits.
Reishi Mushroom Benefits: What are They?
So, what exactly are the reishi mushroom benefits? We’ll break down six scientifically studied and potential reishi mushroom benefits below:
1. Boost the Immune System
One of the most popular and vital reishi mushroom benefits is the way it can boost the immune system. Some studies have shown that reishi mushrooms can affect the genes in white blood cells, reduce tumor growth, alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells, and fight infections and cancer in the body by improving lymphocyte function (2).
2. Fight Fatigue
One study showed another reishi mushroom benefit was reducing fatigue and depression to improve well-being. People in the study also experience reduced anxiety, resulting in a better quality of life naturally.
3. Balancing Stress
Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens. In simpler terms, adaptogens are herbs or mushrooms that normalize or balance, our bodies to help them respond and “adapt” to various types of stress. Nowadays, adaptogens are used to support energy levels, balance the stress response system, and help our body cope with the effects that stress can have on our overall health.
4. Heart Health
Another scientific study showed that reishi mushrooms may increase good cholesterol, but more research needed to be done in this area.
5. Blood Sugar Control
Several studies have indicated that molecules found in reishi mushrooms can decrease blood sugar, however, more research needs to be done in this area as well.
For anyone suffering from allergies, reishi mushrooms may help by reducing the production of histamines. This is because it contains compounds rich in sulfur that inhibit the production of histamines, thus helping reduce conditions such as allergies, rhinitis, and asthma.
7. Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are a hot buzzword in the beauty community right now since antioxidants can help prevent damage to our cells from free radicals. Many claim that one of the reishi mushroom benefits is effective for reducing free radical damage and preventing oxidative stress. Therefore, it would also prevent the signs of premature aging.
Reishi Mushroom Products
Before we lay out some reishi mushroom products for you to check out, it’s important to first mention dosing considerations and side effects. The appropriate dose of reishi mushroom depends on several factors, including your age and what condition you’re using the reishi mushroom for. Also, while reishi mushrooms are generally safe for most people to consume, they have been known to cause some side effects, especially with relation to the digestive system, so you should consult with your doctor before taking them. This is especially true if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, about to have surgery or have any type of blood disorder or high/low blood pressure. Be sure to do your research to see what works best for you by following directions on product labels and looking into professional advice.
Keep in mind, not all mushroom supplements are created equal, so it’s important to know your standards and know you’re getting as many nutrients for your buck. In the meantime, here are some products you can look into:
- Mikei Red Reishi Essence
- Four Sigmatic Reishi Elixir
- Om Reishi Organic Mushroom Powder
- Reishi Herbal Supplement from Apothékary
- Organic Reishi Mushroom Capsules from Real Mushrooms
Written by Selena Ponton