This is the second post in our “Mushrooms As Medicine” series. In our last post we talked all about chaga, “the king of medicinal mushrooms” and its benefits for our bodies. So I felt it only right to have the star of the show today be reishi, “the queen of medicinal mushrooms“.
Superfoods such as spirulina, chia seeds, and maca etc.. are all the craze right now, and are without a doubt the best foods on this planet for optimal nutrition. These foods have amazing health benefits and insure that you are getting enough of a variety of nutrients from one super simple and healthy source.
But how can keep ourselves from getting sick? And how can we prevent certain diseases without taking medications that the western society so loves to prescribe us?
Sure, eating healthy foods and staying active play a huge roll for your bodies health. But sometimes the bug will get the best of us, and we may still get sick or acquire a certain disease even if we are super healthy people in general.
This is where medicinal mushrooms come into play. They are food for our immune system, and keep things working in tip top shape. Instead of only taking care of our immune system when we get sick, we should be taking care of it on a daily basis. Eating these mushrooms regularly will act as medicine for our bodies, and will prevent you from getting sick and help with preventing certain diseases. Mushrooms are the next huge thing in the health community. Read on to see what the fuss is all about!
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
A.K.A. the “queen of medicinal mushrooms” or the “mushroom of immortality”, grows outdoors as a fungus which is native to parts of Asia including China, Korea and Japan, but lots of types of reishi (commonly referred to as Lingzhi) grow all over the world, including parts of New England. And like other popular medicinal mushrooms, reishi grows on trees. This queen healer has been used for its healing abilities for many many years, and is the most studied of all medicinal mushroom’s today.
The outside of reishi can be quite beautiful in my opinion. It is hard to the touch, and must be boiled to extract its beneficial properties. When they are young, they have a sort of wet shiny look, which makes them easy to identify. And as they mature, the caps become tougher and more dull in appearance.
Reishi has been used for thousands of years in ancient Chinese medicine, and is the oldest mushrooms known to be used medicinally. This “elixir of life” has been used for so many centuries to heal and prevent disease, and is well respected to this day in herbal medicine.
Fun Fact: Our DNA is actually extremely similar to mushrooms… close to 50% similar. That’s insane! Mushroom’s genetic makeup is closer to human DNA then it is to plants.
What Are The Benefits?
Immune System Support
One of the main medicinal benefits of reishi is its ability to stimulate your immune system. Reishi has two ingredients that are most active, and also most beneficial. The first being polysaccharides, and the second is triterpenes.
There are high levels of polysaccharides found in reishi, which is true for most all medical mushrooms. Polysaccharides are what your cells run on. They help regulate our immune system, give us energy, fight against fatigue, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, and helps enhance our mood by releasing feel good chemicals naturally produced in our brain. Polysaccharides also benefit our cardiovascular system, and liver function. And have been known to stimulate white blood cell growth.
Triterpenes are believed to help lower cholesterol and have also been known to help relieve the symptoms of allergies. They have anti-inflammatory properties, anti-cancer/anti-tumor properties, and support the liver, heart, and blood- along with many other benefits.
Reishi improves liver function as it is very cleansing and detoxifying. It is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and an antihistamine, so it is a great tonic if you have allergies. This queen healer has also been known to help fight candida, has anti-tumor properties/anti-cancer properties, can lower high blood pressure, and helps balance hormones and diabetes, just to name a few.
Longevity + Anti-Aging Properties
Reishi has been used for centuries to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind and spirit to obtain a long and healthy life. This herb boosts longevity and has anti-aging effects. Because of its positive benefits for your body, this mushroom can help you live a happier, healthier and longer life.
Reishi protects cellular DNA from oxidant damage that causes aging and cancers. It is extremely high in antioxidants and also boosts total antioxidant capacity. Taking this mushroom regularly can help fight against free radicals and can help make the appearance of your skin look more youthful, glowing, and helps prevent wrinkles. In addition to making your skin smooth and clear, reishi is also beneficial for keeping your hair healthy, strong and will help it to grow faster and can even help prevent hair loss.
Reishi boosts your metabolism which in turn will help you lose weight.
Stress Relief + Sleep Aid
The Chinese have traditionally claimed that Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength.
It is an adaptogen which means it helps us adapt to stressors in the environment. Reishi is one of the most potent adaptogens available in our modern society. Adaptogens are herbs and substances that increase the body’s resistance to stress and help it overcome all health challenges more quickly. They are defined as substances which positively support the body to reduce or increase the body’s actions as appropriate.
Reishi is known to help keep you grounded, and can help you sleep better. Taking reishi regularly can help you get better quality of sleep so you wake up feeling more refreshed with the same hours of sleep. Reishi is also known to help those who suffer with insomnia.
This powerful mushroom can help increase you mood, fight against depression, reduce anxiety and prevent stress.
What Does It Taste Like?
Reishi has a slightly bitter flavor, and is most likely not something you would drink just for the taste of it. It has a very strong flavor that is mostly unenjoyable on its own. But if you prepare it with yummy ingredients, you will be able to enjoy this healthy mushroom daily! I like to mix it with other ingredients such as in smoothies, coffee or hot chocolate. And I like to sweeten it with a liquid sweeter such as agave to mask the bitterness. You know what they say.. “the better it is for you, the worse it tastes”. But in all honestly, when mixed into something, it is quite enjoyable and it really grows on you. I drink this mushroom in some form almost daily!
How Do I Eat It?
Keep in mind reishi is not normally eaten whole, as you would with supermarket mushrooms. It is usually ground up and sold as a powder so it can be easily added to your warm drinks, smoothies etc. You can buy it in capsule form, as a tincture, or as a powder.
I personally love and trust the brand Four Sigmatic for all of my mushroom needs. They also sell a reishi hot chocolate which I love! It is such a perfect way to ease into my mornings (especially when it is cold outside). I also love having it at night before I go to bed to wind down with while watching a movie! I find it really helps me to get a better night of sleep, and it is such a nice treat to have that is sneakily healthy 😉
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