Following our latest blog posts taking a deep dive into Chaga and Lion's Mane, we meet our next wonderful fungi, Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidium).
Reishi is also known as 'Lingzhi' in China and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine with records dating back to over 2000 years ago. In Chinese Medicine there are three principles known as 'treasures' (much like the Ayurvedic Dosha and Guna principles) within the body which need to be balanced to find harmony and wellbeing. These are known as 'jing', 'qi' and 'shen' in China and Reishi is acclaimed to nourish each of them allowing the body to replenish, detoxify and build strength.
Reishi is a bracket fungus with a red varnished, kidney shaped cap, it's peripherally inserted stem gives it distinct fan-like appearance. Reishi means 'wise sage' in Japanese and it's given name, Ganoderma Lucidium, translates to "shining-skinned divine mushroom". Fresh Reishi is cork-like, soft and flat. Revered for over 2,000 years and known as the "mushroom of immortality" an amount of uncertainty exists about which of the Ganoderma species was most widely utilised in ancient times, but according to researchers, Red Reishi is most likely to be Ganoderma Lucidium because this is the species most widely used by Chinese herbalists still to this day, although Reishi can also be black, white, green or yellow.
Reishi is native to Asia, growing as a parasite on a variety of hardwood trees, mostly indigenous to China, in a humid climate. This adaptogenic, versatile fungi can be used in teas, soups, tinctures and capsules and it's active components include:
An array of B vitamins
Because of it's bitter taste, Reishi is traditionally prepared as a hot water extract for use in folk medicine. This mushroom in Asian folklore was associated with recuperation, longevity, sexual prowess and wisdom.
5 Benefits of Reishi:
1. Enhances Oxygenation of the Blood
Reishi can help to reduce the oxygen consumption by the heart muscle whilst also improving circulation. It has been used to reduce platelet aggregation (blood clots) which can lead to heart attacks. Reishi can also be used to treat altitude sickness and have an anti-histamine effect for allergy sufferers.
2. Fights Cancer Cells
One small study in the Journal of Oncology found that tumours shrunk in 3 patients that were taking Reishi mushrooms, researchers believe that beta-glucans in the mushrooms may prevent new blood vessel growth, which is key as cancer cells need a steady blood supply to grow. The triterpines in the mushrooms may also inhibit the development and metastasis of tumours. Additional research indicates that it could also alleviate chemotherapy induced nausea. Both Chaga and Reishi have these qualities and further research into the use of these mushrooms is being called for by many modern scientists.
3. Improves Liver Function
Reishi mushroom spores were found to promote liver cell regeneration in mice, improving the organs ability to shuttle toxins and heavy metals out of the body. The liver is thought to be the gateway to health as most of the toxicity held in the body is stored here.