Serena Norr
Written by Serena Norr

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

5 Incredible Benefits of Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries. Renowned for its health benefits, this mushroom can improve overall health and boost the immune system.

A reishi mushroom with dried lingzhi on a plaited mat outdoor concept

Renowned for its incredible benefits, the reishi mushroom has been used as medicinal fungi for centuries. As legend has it, in ancient China, a man named Shen Nong, dubbed as the ‘God of Chinese herbal medicine’ taught the practice of using herbal drugs, thus laying the foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Texts from the past highlight his many achievements, including the invention of tea and the discovery of a type of mushroom he claimed could prolong a person’s lifespan.

Stories surrounding Shen Nong have been passed down from generation to generation, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. However, the immortal mushroom he mentioned, though, is real. Although it doesn’t exactly change humans into Gods, reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or lingzhi are antioxidant-rich adaptogens that can help the body adapt and fight stress. Containing over 400 different bioactive compounds, these mushrooms can improve overall health, boost the immune system, promote longevity, and reverse aging.

Read on to learn more about the incredible benefits of the reishi mushroom and which products are safe to consume. 

Reishi Mushroom Benefits 

A group of reishi mushrooms growing inside a greenhouse
Reishi mushrooms contain cancer-fighting properties that can also help manage inflammation.

Regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” reishi is classified as a large, reddish-brown mushroom with a woody texture and fan-like composition. Today, you can find them as reishi powders, liquids, supplements, or teas.

Reishi mushroom benefits are quite vast, including its ability to fight cancer cells, alleviate hepatitis, alleviate stress and fatigue, treat memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease, and boost the immune, to name a few.

In fact, one study involving 58 basidiomycetes mushrooms discovered that reishi was effective in killing most cancer cells. These include leukemia and cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and ovaries. It is also beneficial for helping to overcome stage 1 bladder cancer. Another study in China tested patients with lung cancer, found the polysaccharides found in reishi mushrooms may help cancer-fighting immune cells, called lymphocytes, stay active.

Below, we are highlighting more of its compounds and benefits:

1. Polysaccharides 

Reishi contains the most active polysaccharides among medicinal plants. This includes water-soluble, antioxidant-rich, and immunomodulatory properties that can lower blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and fight tumors.

Additionally, its promotion helps overall vitality, such as reducing wrinkles, restoring moisture loss in the skin, reducing fatigue, alleviating stress, treating infections, and promoting sleep. TCM practitioners also prescribe reishi to calm a person’s mind and reduce anxiety. 

However, reishi stimulates the immune system and might be dangerous for people taking medicines to suppress their immune systems. 

2. Triterpenes 

Known as ganoderic acids, triterpenes are a bioactive component that contributes to reishi’s anti-aging benefits. Moreover, they can reduce hypertension, lower blood pressure, reduce allergy symptoms, improve liver functions, and decrease LDL cholesterol. Triterpenes’ bitter taste indicates the mushroom’s quality, so the more bitter the reishi is, the better it is. 

3. Beta-glucans 

Reishi mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, a soluble fiber, which can help stop the growth and spread of cancer cells, reduce high cholesterol, and improve the skin.

Reishi’s benefits are also experienced mentally. In TCM, monks and mountain hermits use it to achieve emotional well-being and balance.

4. Bioactive peptides 

Peptides are a string of amino acids that helps your body fight bacteria and promotes the healing of wounds. Reishi contains a high level of bioactive peptides that supports this chain, known as peptide bonds. This is important for disease-fighting.

5. Vitamins and minerals

Reishi mushrooms contain minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, they contain vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin D, and fiber.

Use ‘Cracked’ Spores Reishi Mushroom

A young woman making a glass of warm tea with reishi mushrooms extract
Adding reishi mushrooms to your diet can be a part of your overall health and wellness regime.

You can find reishi products in many forms, such as reishi mushroom powder, capsules, or teas. When seeking to add reishi to your diet, it is important to take the highest-quality reishi mushroom products to reap their benefits and ensure your safety. This includes no synthetic ingredients, pesticides, or additives. Products should be cultivated and manufactured from raw materials, following TCM practices.

Commercial reishi products commonly use different parts of the mushroom. This includes the mycelia, fruit body, and cracked spores. The spores are the most valuable part of the mushroom, which have a double-walled structure that is hard and sturdy.

To reap its full benefits and improve the absorption rate, the spore wall must be broken, and not consumed as is. Simply put, the higher the breakage rate, the easier it becomes for the body to absorb nutrients effectively.

Additionally, high temperatures or acid-based substances can destroy active compounds of the mushroom. In that regard, the extraction of high-quality reishi products involves using high-efficiency, low-temperature spore wall cracking technology. The spores are scarce and need to undergo a tedious extraction process. Hence, products that use lingzhi cracked spores are generally more expensive than some other parts of the mushroom. 

Cracked spores are conveniently available in capsules that you could take as a herbal supplement or add to your coffee or tea. You can also blend reishi powder with other ingredients like cacao, or add it to your drinks or cookies. More recently, companies are also opting to use lingzhi as a material in anti-aging skincare products.

Who Shouldn’t Take Reishi Mushroom

While reishi mushrooms have incredible benefits, they can also cause an upset stomach, rashes, or nausea if not taken property. Not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing, taking medications, or have issues related to bleeding. Those interested in taking reishi should seek guidance from a TCM practitioner.

An ancient fungus, reishi mushrooms are extraordinary that you can easily incorporate into your daily life. Always make sure to get your reishi products from trusted sources to reap the benefits for your overall health.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Maximising the Effects of Lingzhi“, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website. 

References

  1. Medical News Today. 2021. Everything you need to know about reishi mushrooms. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  2. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. 2011. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). [Accessed on December 7, 2021]
  3. National Cancer Institue. 2011. Medicinal Mushrooms . [Accessed on December 7, 2021]
  4. National Library of Medicine. 2013. Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits. [Accessed on December 7, 2021]
  5. Biotech. 2012. Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. [Accessed on December 7, 2021]
  6. Molecules. 2014. Hypotensive Effects and Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitory Peptides of Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi) Auto-Digested Extract. [Accessed on December 7, 2021]
  7. Medicina Biomolecular. 2021. Ganoderma lucidum:Constituents and Phytochemicals.:. [Accessed on December 7, 2021]

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