Mushrooms are one food I have never tried to eat. My mom once tried to stealthily serve me spaghetti with pureed mushrooms in the sauce, but from the first bite, I knew something wasn’t right! Since learning about the health benefits of reishi mushrooms, though, I’ve discovered that mushrooms are far more desirable than I gave them credit for.
Reishi mushrooms have been used medicinally in China and Japan for over 4,000 years and were considered to be the foremost health tonic by the ancient Chinese.
Botanical name: Ganoderma lucidum
Traditional Chinese Medicine: Ling Zhi
Adaptogen, Alterative, Anti-Allergenic, Antiviral, Immune Support
Cardiovascular System, Immunity, Liver
Reishi acts as an alterative, which means that it supports the body in properly assimilating the nutrients from food, eliminating waste, and generally restoring the proper function of organs and tissues.
This “tonic effect” gradually brings the body to a level of greater vitality and well being with a stronger resistance to disease and infection.
Benefits of Reishi as a Heart Tonic
Along with herbs such as ginkgo and hawthorn berries, reishi has an affinity for the cardiovascular system and is an excellent heart tonic. It simultaneously increases the flow of blood to the heart and reduces the amount of oxygen the heart requires to function efficiently.
This allows the heart muscle to perform its vital work with less stress and effort – which may actually prolong its lifespan. Reishi has also shown the ability to:
- ease angina pain
- prevent and correct irregular heart beat (arrhythmia)
- maintain healthy blood pressure
- prevent heart disease
- prevent blood clots
- lower cholesterol levels
Reishi to Combat Fatigue & Insomnia
Neurasthania is a condition caused by nervous system exhaustion that leads to generalized fatigue, and reishi is often helpful in relieving the symptoms and countering the root causes of this issue. Reishi has also shown value in combating chronic fatigue syndrome as research confirms that many people experience greater energy and vitality after taking it.
Consistent dosages of reishi help alleviate insomnia by balancing the body systems in several key areas:
- bolsters the ability of muscles to relax appropriately
- relieves the harmful physical effects of stress
- calms the nervous system
Use Reishi Against Infections
Reishi can help to increase the body’s resistance to disease and viral infections by bolstering the immune system. The mushroom has naturally antiviral and antibacterial properties that make it helpful against many of the infections we encounter:
- cold & flu
- stomach virus
- cold sores
- genital herpes (Reishi can help prevent future outbreaks once the infection is under control.)
Chinese studies have shown reishi to be beneficial in cases of chronic bronchitis also. Study participants experienced 60 to 90 percent improvement after just two weeks of use.
Benefits of Reishi Antioxidants
Reishi mushrooms are high in antioxidants, those wonder substances that bind to free radicals in the body and stop them from turning into cancerous tumors.
Reishi’s anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activity has been proven by scientific studies. Patients in these studies showed an increase in T lymphocyte counts and also experienced fewer side effects related to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Additional Benefits of Reishi
Reishi is a natural antihistamine, which means that it can help relieve both seasonal and household allergies.
Reishi has an affinity for the liver, and studies prove its ability to improve the liver’s vital functions. At least one study has shown improvement in people who have hepatitis B with elevated bilirubin and liver enzyme counts. Taking reishi for three months brought these patients’ levels back to normal.
As with any herbal treatment, consult your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
Choosing the Right Reishi Supplement
Reishi is considered a non-edible mushroom because it’s very tough and hard. For medicinal use, the fresh mushroom has been traditionally sliced, allowed to dry, and then boiled in tea or soup. This is still a perfectly effective way to get the benefits of reishi.
Dried reishi can also be ground to a powder and then boiled for tea, soaked in alcohol to make a tincture, or put into gelatin capsules.
Reishi Mushroom Dosage
Pour one cup of boiling water over 3-6 tablespoons of dried reishi powder. Steep 20 minutes, sweeten to taste with honey, and enjoy 2-3 times a day.
Reishi Capsules and Tincture
As a general health tonic, a dosage of 400-500 mg of dried reishi powder twice a day is a good maintenance dose. Follow the directions on your supplement’s label as the amounts needed may vary.
If you prefer a reishi tincture, the dosage is 1 mL per day.
Side Effects of Reishi
Because reishi helps the body to eliminate waste, it sometimes brings embedded toxins out of the organs and tissues so that they can be properly eliminated. For some people, this manifests as temporary, unpleasant side effects such as:
- aching bones and joints
- itching or pimply breakouts
- loose or hardened stool
These symptoms are actually a good thing because they show that the body is ridding itself of harmful toxins. The symptoms will pass after a short time of continued reishi use.
If you take a blood thinner of any type, consult your healthcare provider before taking reishi as it is a mild blood thinner.
Also, reishi may sometimes lower blood sugar levels so check with your healthcare provider if you take medicine to control diabetes. Your dosage may need to be adjusted.
Finally, consult your healthcare provider if you’ve had an organ transplant or use an immunosuppresive drug. Reishi boosts immune response and may be contradicted in these cases.
The benefits of reishi mushrooms include an amazing array of health boosting and disease prevention. Whether you want to strengthen your cardiovascular system, relieve allergies, or combat fatigue, reishi will be your friend and ally. Give this not-so-little mushroom a try and let me know how it works for you.
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Ritchason, Jack, N.D. The Little Herb Encyclopedia: The Handbook of Nature’s Remesies for a Healthier Life. Woodland Health Books, 1995.
Stengler, Mark, ND. The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don’t Know. Prentice Hall Press, 2010.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
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