Reishi Mushroom: 5 Benefits of the 'Mushroom of Immortality'

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) also known as the "Mushroom of Immortality” is one of the most widely-recognized and best-studied of the medicinal mushrooms. Reishi mushroom have been used for thousands of years in traditional Eastern medicine. Those who use Reishi mushroom in their healing practices have such a high regard to it that they refer it as the key to immortality. 

Within the Reishi mushroom, there are several molecules, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides and peptidoglycans, that may be responsible for its many health benefits. 

While Reish mushrooms can be eaten fresh, it is more common to use powdered forms of the mushroom or extracts that contain these specific molecules.

These different forms have been tested in cell, animal and human studies.

So why is Reishi mushroom such a big deal, and why have healers sworn by this mushrooms for thousands of years? Below are 5 scientifically studied benefits of the Reishi mushroom. 

Benefits

Reishi Mushroom for Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress are common issues that affect millions of people worldwide. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including work-related issues, financial problems, family problems, and health issues. When stress becomes chronic, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. The body responds to stress by releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can have a negative impact on the immune system, cardiovascular system, and digestive system.

Reishi mushrooms contain a variety of bioactive compounds, including triterpenes, polysaccharides, and beta-glucans. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory properties. Research has also shown that Reishi mushrooms can help to regulate the HPA axis, which is responsible for the body's stress response. By regulating the HPA axis, Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce cortisol levels and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder. The study included 132 individuals who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or Reishi mushroom powder for eight weeks. The results showed that the group receiving the Reishi mushroom had a significant reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms compared to the placebo group.

Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce stress and improve cognitive function in individuals undergoing mental fatigue. The study included 30 healthy individuals who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or Reishi mushroom powder for eight weeks. The results showed that the group receiving the Reishi mushroom powder had a significant reduction in mental fatigue and improved cognitive function compared to the placebo group.

Reishi Mushroom Sleep 

Sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing. During sleep, the body repairs and rejuvenates itself, and the brain consolidates memories and processes emotions. Lack of sleep can have negative impacts on physical and mental health, including increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety.

Reishi mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that can help to improve sleep quality. These compounds include triterpenes, polysaccharides, and beta-glucans. Triterpenes, in particular, have been shown to have sedative properties and can help to promote relaxation and sleep.

One study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that Reishi mushrooms can help to improve sleep quality in individuals with insomnia. The study included 60 participants who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or Reishi mushroom for four weeks. The results showed that the group receiving the Reishi mushroom had a significant improvement in sleep quality compared to the placebo group.

Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce sleep latency and improve sleep efficiency in individuals with sleep disorders. The study included 20 participants who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or a Reishi mushroom for four weeks. The results showed that the group receiving the Reishi mushroom had a significant reduction in sleep latency and improved sleep efficiency compared to the placebo group.

Reishi Mushroom Reduces Inflammation

Reishi mushrooms bioactive compounds have also shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds can help to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.

One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce inflammation in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. The study included 48 participants who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or a Reishi mushroom for six months. The results showed that the group receiving the Reishi mushroom had a significant reduction in inflammation markers compared to the placebo group.

Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce inflammation in individuals with ulcerative colitis. The study included 36 participants who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or a Reishi mushroom for eight weeks. The results showed that the group receiving the Reishi mushroom had a significant reduction in inflammation markers and improved symptoms compared to the placebo group.

Reishi mushrooms can also help to reduce oxidative stress, which can contribute to inflammation. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to inflammation, while antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Reishi mushrooms contain antioxidants that can help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

Reishi Mushroom for Cardiovascular Health 

One of the primary ways that Reishi mushroom can improve cardiovascular health is by reducing high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Reishi mushroom can reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. The study participants took Reishi mushroom for 12 weeks, and their blood pressure was measured before and after the treatment. The results showed a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Reishi mushroom may also help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. High cholesterol levels are another risk factor for heart disease. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Reishi mushroom can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the blood. The study participants took Reishi mushroom for 12 weeks, and their blood lipid levels were measured before and after the treatment. The results showed a significant reduction in all three types of lipids.

Finally, Reishi mushroom may have antioxidant properties that can protect the cardiovascular system from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body's ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. Oxidative stress can damage cells and tissues, including those in the cardiovascular system. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Reishi mushroom can increase the production of antioxidants in the body. The study participants took Reishi mushroom for eight weeks, and their antioxidant levels were measured before and after the treatment. The results showed a significant increase in antioxidant levels.

Reishi Mushroom Improves Immunity

The immune system is the body's natural defense mechanism against infections and diseases. It consists of various cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from harmful pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. The immune system also plays a crucial role in preventing the growth of abnormal cells that can lead to cancer.

Reishi mushroom has been shown to modulate the immune system by stimulating the activity of various immune cells, such as natural killer cells, T cells, and macrophages. These cells are responsible for identifying and destroying harmful pathogens and abnormal cells in the body.

How to Use Reishi Mushroom

Sounds great - but how do you exactly consume Reishi mushrooms? The Reishi mushroom has a rather bitter, woody taste, which is why it is traditionally prepared in a tea or as an extract. You can find Reishi mushrooms in many forms - capsules, powders, or tinctures. In other words, Reishi mushrooms might not taste amazing in their original form, but when mixed and consumed in the right way, they can be delicious 

Add Bloomable's Reishi Mushroom powder as an ingredient in meals such as fried rice, stir-fry dishes and porridge. Use it to expand nourishment in your smoothies. Or add it to your morning coffee and evening wind down tea. 

For overall maintenance, the typical dose of Reishi mushroom powder ranges from 1-1.5 grams per day, about one teaspoon.

For more severe health issues, the dose can range from 2-5 grams. 

Disclaimer
This article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. More human studies are needed, but the research that has been conducted so far is extremely promising. If you have a question about whether Reishi mushroom (or any other medicinal mushroom) is right for you, please consult with a qualified healthcare provider. 

Image credit: Holisitc Kenko 

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