Reishi mushrooms are known for their healing medicinal properties. They have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Their health benefits are so great that they are sometimes called the “mushroom of immortality.”
The Latin name for Reishi mushrooms is Ganoderma Lucidem. In Asia, they are called Lingzhi or Ling-chi.
Reishis are reputed to have a vast array of health benefits, including improving brain and liver function, regulating sugar for diabetics, helping with sleep, and as an adjunct cancer therapy. But in this post, I want to cover what the four main benefits of Reishi mushrooms have been for me.
Reishi Mushrooms in North America
Many people associate Reishi with Asia, and the true Ganoderma Lucidem species of these mushrooms does mostly grow there.
But here in North America, we have a very closely related mushroom that has also been used for its healing properties. This version of the Reishi mushroom goes by the Latin name Ganoderma Tsugae. Here in New England, we call it the Hemlock Reishi. In some other areas of the country, they are called Varnish Shelves. Hemlock Reishis are pretty common in the Northeast US, and grow most frequently on Hemlock trees.
Like all Reishis, they are pretty mushrooms, with a deep orange color toward the center, changing to yellow toward the edges, and white tips. They have a shiny surface that looks like it has been lacquered. When the sun shines on it, this mushroom is like a piece of art.
The 4 Main Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits
1: They Help with the Immune System.
Reishi has the amazing ability to help stimulate the production of immune cells in immune-compromised people. It also reduces immune system function in people who have an auto-immune disorder related to an overly active immune system.
Reishis have actually been shown in scientific studies to act as an immune regulator, and the beauty of this is that they adapt and give your body the signals that it needs.
I will increase the amount of Reishi mushroom powder that I consume when I feel sick. I find that it often helps if I am getting a cold or want to plow through that blah run-down feeling that we all get sometimes.
2: They have Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory properties
They contain powerful anti-oxidant compounds. Increased oxidation results in aging and the anti-oxidant compounds in Reishis can help slow down the aging process.
If you have a lot of aches and pains, the anti-inflammatory compounds in Reishi mushrooms will help. Note that Inflammation is also associated with Alzheimer’s and some cancers. The anti-inflammatory compounds in Reishi mushrooms will help here too.
3: Reishis have Anti-Anxiety & Anti-Depression Effects
Research indicates that Reishi mushrooms have anti-anxiety and anti-depressive properties.
Cancer patients often get depressed and experience anxiety. Reishis have been used as a therapy to help patients through the stress caused by this difficult condition and put them in a better mind-frame for healing. Studies have also shown that Reishis may actually have cancer-fighting properties.
4: Reishi Mushrooms Will Help You Sleep
The same anti-anxiety and anti-depression compounds in Reishi mushrooms can help you get a better night’s sleep. When I take Reishi daily, I sleep deeply and feel more rested when I get up.
So how do you take Reishi?
Reishi extract powders are a great way to take your Reishi, and there are many Reishi extracts on the market. Just add a tablespoon of Reishi Extract Powder to your coffee, tea, or smoothie, and you are good to go.
Best of all, the extract powder is concentrated, which means that you get more of the beneficial compounds per tablespoon of Reishi extract powder than you would from a tablespoon of the fresh mushroom. The proportion is often as high as 50:1 and can be even higher.
Some Reishi mushroom extract powders also contain powder from other beneficial mushrooms like Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane, so they are a great way to get the benefits of these other mushrooms.
Recommended Reishi Extracts
Here are my three favorite Reishi extracts. I usually take the Freshcap Thrive 6 extract with 6 mushroom powders, as I like to get the benefit of all 6 mushrooms. I will sometimes take an extra tablespoon of KOS Organic Red Reishi Powder if I’m feeling under the weather.
Freshcap Mushrooms Thrive 6 Mushroom Extract Powder – This powder not only contains Reishi, it also contains extract powder from Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Turkey Tail and Chaga. All of the extracts are from organically grown mushrooms. Thrive 6 is a great choice for a daily mushroom supplement!
KOS Organic Red Reishi Mushroom Powder – This powder is pure Reishi, with no other mushrooms. It is organic, and is verified by a third party to ensure purity, potency and quality. The powder is concentrated at a rate of 10:1, so contains 10 times as much of Reishi’s beneficial compounds as fresh Reishi.
Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Reishi Mushroom Powder – This is also a pure organic Reishi powder, but it is concentrated at 4:1. This makes it a good choice if you ever experience any side effects from stronger Reishi powders.
Reishi Side Effects
Remember, just because some Reishi is good doesn’t mean that more Resihi is better. Too much Reishi can lead to side effects, including dryness of the mouth and throat. Some people have reported dizziness, rashes, and stomach upset.
Reishi may also interact with blood pressure medication. People with low blood pressure or diabetes are more susceptible to these side effects, so check with your doctor before taking any reishi supplements.
If none of these conditions apply to you, then start with half a tablespoon of reishi extract powder, and move up to a tablespoon. I have never had any side effects from Reishi, but I don’t take more than a tablespoon in a day. A tablespoon is plenty to get the beneficial effects.
Finding and Harvesting Wild Reishi
If you live in a forested area in North America or Europe, you may be able to find and harvest Hemlock Reishis yourself in the Summer or Fall. They are quite common and grow mainly on Hemlock trees.
NEVER pick any mushroom in the wild unless you are with an experienced forager. Hemlock Reishis have a distinctive appearance and are hard to mistake, but the consequences of picking the wrong mushroom are severe. I always recommend checking the website of the North American Mycological Organization. They have chapters across North America, and there you will find plenty of people with experience identifying and picking wild mushrooms.
You can dry your Hemlock Reishis and store them for several months. First, cut them into small chunks. Then leave them in a sunny place for several days. Once dried, you can store them in an airtight container and they will last for several months.
The best way to take your Rieshi is as a tea. Just take a tablespoon of Reishi chunks and boil them in two cups of water for several minutes. Strain the liquid and you will have a healthy tea.
Wrapping It Up
So that’s an overview of the Reishi mushroom. Keep an eye out for these mushrooms when you go hiking this Summer. Happy Hunting!