Reishi mushrooms have been used for their health benefits in traditional Eastern medicine for thousands of years. Today these special bright-colored mushrooms continue to be used for their well-known immune-boosting properties as well as to fight fatigue and depression, among other benefits. While they can be eaten in a variety of dishes, reishi mushrooms can also be found in convenient powder forms. Read more to learn the amazing health benefits of reishi mushrooms and how these medicinal mushrooms can support your health!
Introducing the King of Mushrooms
The reishi mushroom, also known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, is an edible, medicinal fungus that has been a large part of traditional Asian healing practices for thousands of years. The scientific name for reishi mushrooms is Ganoderma lucidum, and they can be found in hot and humid areas across Asia, with locations that include China, Japan, and Korea. They are beautiful to look at, with shades of fiery orange and red giving it its distinguished appearance.
But these mushrooms are much more than just beautiful on the outside! Reishi mushrooms are loaded with nutrients that provide a lot of health benefits. In fact, reishi mushrooms are considered both a superfood and an adaptogenic herb that can help your body manage the negative impacts of stress. Many of the benefits of reishi mushrooms have already been scientifically proven, and we’re so excited to share them with you!
5 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
1. BRAIN BOOSTING: Reishi mushrooms can protect your brain.
What is an adaptogen without its amazing benefits for the brain? The brain is the control center of your entire body – so protecting this precious organ is a must! Studies have shown that reishi mushrooms have neuroprotective properties that can not only support the brain itself but also improve your memory and soothe the symptoms of certain brain diseases. The scientific journal Neuropharmacology published a 2012 study that concluded that reishi mushrooms were quite therapeutic for the effects of some neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common forms of dementia. Reishi mushrooms were shown to help the body produce nerve growth factors which are special proteins that are extremely crucial for your brain to function healthily! And since the brain serves as the center of communication to the nerves that control our muscles, body functions, memory, movement and sense, a healthy functioning brain means a healthy functioning nervous system too!
2. MOOD BOOSTING: Reishi mushrooms are the ultimate mood boosters!
These powerful mushrooms don’t just stop at the brain! Reishi mushrooms can help fight fatigue, anxiety and depression, making them the ultimate mood boosters. The polysaccharides found in these special mushrooms may contribute to helping you feel less tired because polysaccharides are indeed known for their anti-fatigue abilities, in addition to many other health benefits. A study involving 132 patients with neurasthenia found that supplementation with reishi mushrooms led to a significant reduction in fatigue after eight weeks.
The patients in this study also reported an improvement in overall well-being after using reishi mushrooms. A different study saw similar results in a group of 48 breast cancer survivors that also experienced reduced fatigue symptoms after four weeks of reishi supplementation. As an added bonus, these patients also reported experiencing less anxiety and depression, and therefore an improvement in their quality of life! Incorporating reishi mushrooms into your diet can help you feel less tired and less anxious. Sounds good to us!
3. IMMUNE SYSTEM: Reishi mushrooms can prevent infection and viruses by boosting the immune system.
There is a reason they are called the “king of mushrooms.” Reishi mushrooms are a triple threat: they are antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial. The active components found in reishi mushrooms help relieve allergies and defend the body against viruses. Triterpenes, for example, are an example of a prominent active compounds in reishi that can help your body fight against viral infections. Reishi mushrooms have been used to treat anything from viral infections like influenza to lung conditions like asthma.
These mushrooms are so powerful because they work as an “immune modulator,” which means they are able to help keep your body at proper homeostasis. Specifically, reishi mushrooms regulate immune activity by putting immune cells on alert when they’re needed but also quell overactive inflammatory reactions as seen in autoimmunity. This makes reishi particularly helpful for individuals with autoimmune disorders. Some test-tube studies have revealed that reishi mushrooms can positively impact the genes found within white blood cells, possibly affecting inflammation pathways to help protect you and keep you healthy. By regulating inflammation, reishi mushrooms can help you regulate immune system activity. Your body will be more than ready to fight back against almost anything!
4. ANTI-CANCER: Reishi mushrooms have strong anti-cancer properties.
Considering reishi mushrooms are powerful anti-inflammatory foods, they may be useful in helping to prevent cancer and reducing tumors. Reishi mushrooms are rich in important nutrients like antioxidants and amino acids. Additionally, reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides that help protect our bodies precious DNA, as well as put a halt to cell mutations and preserve the health of other body cells.
Indeed, there are studies that show that reishi mushrooms have some promise for both cancer prevention and treatment. Test tube studies alone have shown that reishi mushrooms can promote cancer cell death. Additionally, a human study revealed that after receiving treatment with reishi for one year, patients had a decrease in both the size and quantity of tumors within the large intestine. Another study showed that reishi mushrooms have some effectiveness in treating colorectal cancer. When used in combination with other herbs, these mushrooms have been used to treat prostate cancer thanks to their impact on the hormone testosterone. Reishi mushrooms have a lot of unseen potential that researchers are digging into deeper as more research is being done. In fact, some cancer patients are using reishi mushrooms as part of their treatments. One study of 4000 breast cancer survivors found that 59% of them consumed reishi mushrooms as part of their cancer treatment plan.
5. LIVER SUPPORT: Reishi can improve liver function.
While every organ is important, the liver is one of the most crucial to your entire well-being! This is because the liver is responsible for cleansing your body from harmful toxins. By making sure your liver function is supported, you are ensuring that your body is properly processing, storing, and circulating blood and nutrients.
Fortunately, reishi mushrooms can help promote a healthy liver! One promising animal study conducted in 2013 in Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that reishi mushroom supplements were able to actually reverse some liver damage that had been chemically driven. Triterpenes, which are active compounds found in reishi mushrooms, seem to be quite helpful in releasing free radicals which can help in the promotion of liver cell regeneration. So, adding reishi mushrooms into your diet can help support the liver and therefore prevent the development of liver disease.
Supporting the liver has other positive impacts on other systems of the body; specifically helping the endocrine system/hormonal balance. Anytime we’re stressed and eat a bunch of sugar or don’t get enough sleep, we get a rush of stress hormones, and it’s the liver’s job to break down those extra hormones and detox them from the body. When we don’t give the liver enough time to do its job, we pretty quickly start to see different kinds of hormonal imbalance/dysfunction. By helping our liver’s function properly, reishi mushrooms can also help our entire body function better.
How to Add Reishi Mushrooms to Your Diet
Now that you’re convinced about the important benefits of reishi mushrooms, you want to know how to add them to your diet. It’s easy. Reishi mushrooms can be used in your favorite recipes, or to make a medicinal tea. You can also purchase them dried, or even in a convenient powder form that can be incorporated into your favorite recipes! Try these recipes using reishi mushrooms:
- Reishi mushrooms are found in humid regions of Asia and have been used traditionally in Eastern medicine.
- Because reishi mushrooms are considered to be adaptogenic, they can help your body better manage stress.
- Reishi mushrooms have immune-boosting properties may possibly help prevent certain types of cancer.
- Reishi mushrooms show promising results in battling fatigue and even reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Reishi mushrooms can possibly support both brain function and liver function.
- Reishi mushrooms can be eaten raw, but are also widely available in powdered form.
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