The reishi mushroom, also known as the lingzhi mushroom, is a polypore or bracket fungus called as such because it has a large fruiting body with pores on the underside.
What is the Reishi?
The reishi mushroom has a distinct kidney shaped, red varnished cap, giving it a fan-like appearance. Its flavour has been described as tough and woody with elements of bitterness. Reishi has been revered in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years as the ‘mushroom of immortality’ as it was believed to confer longevity.
What do reishi mushrooms do?
Reishi is used medicinally as a boost for the immune system; a treatment for cancer especially of the prostate and to treat viruses such as human papilloma virus, cold sores and herpes. It is commonly used in conjunction with other herbs and ingredients to fight these infections.
Reishi has been tested to contain dietary fibers, trace elements of minerals (zinc, copper, iron, selenium, iodine), proteins and peptides, triterpenoids and polysaccharides. Their presence in reishi’s molecular makeup support studies of its health benefits.
The immune system is possibly the most positively impacted by reishi. White blood cell activity is found to be increased with lymphocytes and natural killer cells showing more activity in people with cancer or who are under stressful conditions. Inflammation pathways within the cells have found to be altered. These boosts tend not to be noticed by adults who are healthy with research showing minimal to no improvement in their inflammation or immune function.
The anti cancer properties of reishi have been researched to a mixture of results. Studies have shown that breast cancer survivors were known to consume reishi, prostate cancer sufferers have been treated with it and it has been used in the prevention and fight against colorectal cancer. Tumour sizes and numbers were found to be reduced, likely due to the heightened activity reishi has on white blood cells in the bloodstream. Researchers have suggested that administering reishi alongside traditional cancer treatments would be beneficial.
Alleviating depression and fatigue are other potential advantages of consuming reishi. Research has been placed into breast cancer survivors who reported less fatigue, anxiety and depression after adding reishi to their diets. Fatigue was also found to be battled and reduced by supplementation of reishi in neurasthenia sufferers. Neurasthenia is a psychological condition with symptoms of fatigue, weakness and general aches and pains.
Reishi has been further researched for its impact on heart health and cholesterol levels, blood sugar control and antioxidant levels however at this point, it is inconclusive as to whether there are any positive gains to be realised in these areas.
Reishi Mushroom in the Media
Mushroom Powder Proving Popular (Feb 2020)
The Hartford Courant is reporting the rise in popularity of mushroom powder (including reishi mushrooms) being utilised as an additive to a person’s morning cup of coffee. Products are being marketed with the powder already mixed into the coffee grounds, separately as a mushroom powder and also as the primary ingredient of teabags.
Bone Broth Alternative (Feb 2020)
WorldHealth.net has nominated mushroom broth as an increasingly popular vegetarian alternative to bone broth. Nominating the reishi as a key ingredient of the broth, it offers a recipe suggestion and entails the health benefits of reishi and the other mushrooms that it features.
Research Studies of Reishi Mushrooms
This collection of studies outlines the effects that reishi has on boosting immune system function.
Cancer Cell Suppressant
As a source of anti cancer treatment, this study concluded that dried reishi powder had a suppressive effect on cell adhesion and migration of highly invasive breast and prostate cancer cells. It is therefore demonstrably a suitable alternative therapy supplement to combat these types of cancer.
Another anti cancer study discovered that a 12 month sustained intake of reishi extract was responsible for reducing the size and volume of colorectal adenomas found in the large intestine of patients.
Reishi Mushroom Anecdotal Claims
Reishi users have declared its effectiveness to be either very advantageous or coupled with side effects.
Dates: 15/08/18; 19/12/15
‘James_ksa’ found that taking reishi helped him with his psoriasis, improved his sleep and concentration and nominated an improved all round immune system.
‘jcn4jc’ showed concern that the reishi they were taking was responsible for their low blood pressure.
User Steve Gartner was confident that the reishi he was taking was aiding his remission of prostate cancer, suggesting the high polysaccharides content was an important component of any reishi product.
Where to buy Reishi Mushroom
Reishi can be readily purchased in either capsule, powder form or whole.
Starwest Botanicals has reishi for sale as whole mushroom or in powder form and offers discounts for bulk purchasing.
Reishi Mushroom Dosage and Usage
The form of the reishi supplement will determine the standard dose to take. The concentrations can vary between extracts so it’s important to know your quantities before consuming.
Between 5 and 12 grams of the extract should elicit a safe quantity whilst realising the full health benefits. As the extract is more potent than the whole mushroom itself, it is a typical guideline that 5g of extract is equal to 50g of the mushroom.