The increasing popularity of medicinal mushrooms is likely due to a plethora of scientific data pointing to their benefits. To this end, reishi benefits and side effects have earned plenty of attention, for reishi is now coined the “mushroom of immortality.”
Immortality? What unique qualities of seemingly simple fungi have earned it this title?
What exactly is reishi mushroom, anyway? How can we effectively use this fungus to achieve more significant health states?
What is Reishi Mushroom?
Reishi mushroom is a fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine (TMC) for perhaps over 2,000 years. According to TMC, the mushroom can be taken for extended periods to heighten agility and significantly extend lifespan.
Found in nature near stumps and logs, reishi has a very distinct look. The cap of the mushroom is shaped like a kidney or a fan.
The hat is red and usually contains an outer, yellow-ish ring. Unlike many mushroom fruiting bodies, reishi lacks gills on its underside. Thousands of people, no longer solely in Asian countries, use reishi mushrooms worldwide for their purported health benefits.
The possibility of benefiting from reishi mushrooms seems abundant according to modern science. TCM first explored the healing properties of this “mushroom of immortality,” which peer-reviewed research is confirming today.
Reishi Benefits and Side Effects
Imagine a mushroom so powerful that it can ease stress, increase stamina, increase libido, fix the immune system, and even prevent cancer. This is possible with reishi.
A 2013 review published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms identifies in reishi “active constituents" include polysaccharides, dietary fibers, oligosaccharides, triterpenoids, peptides and proteins, alcohols and phenols, mineral elements (such as zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, and iron), vitamins, and amino acids.
As we explore the science behind this promising supplement, remember that this article shouldn’t replace medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
Increase Natural Killer Cells
Natural killer cells are immune cells equipped with enzymes that fight cancerous cells and cells infected with viruses. One of the critical ways reishi boosts the immune system is by increasing natural killer cell activity in the body.
Though more research is needed to compare reishi’s impact on a healthy vs. ill person’s immune system, reishi is becoming increasingly recognized as an overall immune enhancer.
Promote Mood and Energy
Cancer-related issues with fatigue and mood add to the already often debilitating journey of battling cancer. That’s why studies such as this pilot clinical trial published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine are critical and promising.
The study found that the “experimental group [in the study] showed statistically significant improvements in the domains of physical well-being and fatigue subscale after the intervention. These patients also reported less anxiety and depression and better quality of life.”
In theory, reishi may also increase energy and mood in healthy populations.
Other Potential Reishi Benefits
Here are some lesser-known benefits of reishi.
- Decrease blood sugar: Studies show that reishi mushrooms may have hypoglycemic effects, making it promising for those struggling to control their blood sugar.
- Improve heart health: Some research indicates that reishi mushroom is cardioprotective. More research is needed to establish these claims further, however.
Reishi Side Effects
The risks and side effects of reishi are minor. They primarily consist of digestive distress.
Be sure to speak to your doctor before taking reishi mushroom if you are pregnant, have low blood pressure, have a blood disorder, or plan to undergo surgery.
Using Reishi Mushroom
Try our small batch of Reishi Mushroom Extract 10:1 for a reliable source of health-promoting, fruiting body reishi mushrooms. We recommend putting our reishi powder in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, smoothies, and shakes.
This way, the flavor won’t affect the overall recipe, but you’ll still receive all the benefits of this “mushroom of immortality.”