Reishi mushrooms – everything you need to know about this trendy superfood. Learn about their health benefits, dosage, side effects, and reishi mushroom products and supplements.
What are Reishi Mushrooms?
For 2,000 years now people have believed that mushrooms have healing properties. One of the oldest healing mushrooms we know of are reishi mushrooms also known as “mushrooms of immortality” or “sacred mushrooms”.
They used to be reserved for royalty to extend their life and improve the royal health. Are you hooked yet? We thought so!
Reishi mushrooms, called lingzhi in China, grow on logs and can be red or dark-colored with a shiny top. There are a few different species referred to as “reishi” with the most common being Ganoderma lucidum, red reishi. This is usually what people refer to when talking about reishi mushrooms.
It’s not usually eaten whole or used as a fresh ingredient but sold in ground-up form as capsules or a powder which you can stir into beverages, tea, or into a soup.
The two main beneficial components of reishi mushrooms are polysaccharides and triterpenes.
What are Polysaccharides?
Polysaccharides supposedly stimulate white cells, boost the immune system and prevent new blood vessel growth. This results in an anti-cancer effect because the rapid growth of cancer cells usually encourages blood vessel growth in order to supply their expansion.
What are Triterpenes?
Triterpenes are responsible for the slightly bitter taste of reishi mushrooms. It’s one of the primary beneficial components of reishi and supposedly lowers cholesterol.
When buying a product you want to make sure it has triterpenes in it. The easiest way to tell? If it’s not bitter at all, it probably does not contain much, if any.
Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms are an adaptogen – an agent that helps the body in adapting to challenging conditions. It helps people to relax and reliefs stress. For more information on adaptogens, head over to All About Adaptogens.
Further health benefits:
- Boosting the Immune System
- Improving blood sugar levels in those with diabetes
- Reducing Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, and/or Irritability
- Reducing Inflammation
- Lowering Blood Pressure or High Cholesterol
- Helping with sleep and insomnia
- Detoxifying the liver
- Improving circulation
- Increasing stamina
Even though many consider reishi the most-researched medicinal mushrooms there remains a big gap between the popular beliefs and the actual scientific research.
There are only a couple of case reports for humans. Most of reishi mushrooms’ medicinal benefits are only documented in rodent studies and test tubes, which does not mean these things would necessarily happen in humans.
Research is ongoing on the potential benefits of reishi mushrooms. Laboratory test-tube studies have found that they could be effective in fighting cancer and shrinking tumors.
How to take Reishi Mushrooms
While indigenous cultures consumed reishi mushrooms in teas or infusions, reishi is now offered in the form of capsules, tinctures, and fractionated extracts. Doesn’t sound very fun, does it? Good news: There are also reishi chocolate bars, candies, energy drinks, and even reishi mushroom coffee blends!
This is what a typical daily dose could look like:
- 1.5 to 9 grams of dried mushrooms
- 1 to 1.5 grams of red reishi powder
- 1 ml of reishi solution
Ideally, you should consume reishi in the afternoon or evening because a lot of liver detox happens at night. Start with a small dose and work your way up.
Are there any known side effects?
Opinions differ about the side effects of Reishi. For now, we can state that reishi use is generally safe and has a high antioxidant value.
Nevertheless, there are several groups of people who should steer clear of reishi. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood disorder or low blood pressure, are on diabetic medication or will be undergoing surgery, reishi might not be the right fit for you. Feel free to consult our list of adaptogens for more options.
Reishi products we love:
Four Sigmatic sells this reishi hot cocoa mix that we are OBSESSED with! Even though the most authentic way to use reishi is to make a tea or soup, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sneaking it into a sweet treat! If you are looking for a way to include reishi on your daily routine, hot chocolate might be the way to go.
This is the easiest solution for those of you who do not enjoy the bitter taste of Reishi powder. Simply take two capsules once or twice a day to quickly improve your immune defense and mood!
We love Terrasou – they make excellent products and this one is no exception! You can use this red reishi powder for making your own reishi tea by adding 1 tsp. to a cup of boiling water. Add some honey or a sweetener of your choice to help with the bitterness. This is also super amazing mixed with cacao.21