Magic Mushrooms – Reishi

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I will be offering a short series on 5 magic mushrooms. Some are considered adaptogens. Many have been used for thousands of years and are rare in the wild. It has taken centuries to discover how to grow them ‘in captivity’ and still obtain a product that provides the same healing properties. This is true for many ancient healing herbs and food sources. We have to find the balance and not over collect the wild source and still maintain the quality and desired outcome in using the herbs / food.

Reishi  (Ganoderma lucidum) (Ling Zhi)

Long revered as a longevity herb more people are returning to ancient natural substances to assist in healing and bringing balance into their lives without side effects.

Adaptogens are herbs that can increase the body’s ability to handle external stressors and restore it to normal physiological functions. No other adaptogenic herb can do this better than red reishi.

Once reserved only for royalty, red reishi was the most sought after medicinal herb in Eastern medicine because of its rarity. Today, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine consider red reishi nature’s most powerful and beneficial adaptogen. There actually are six different reishis – red, black, blue, white, yellow and purple Reishi. Of these six types, black and red Reishi have demonstrated the most significant health-enhancing effects.

However, red Reishi has been proven to be the most effective in improving one’s overall health by enhancing the immune system, many bodily functions, and vital organs. Black Reishi (Ganoderma sinensis), is fairly common and can be found in most Chinese herbal shops. The majority of Reishi products that claim to be using “wild” Reishi generally use black Reishi. While still valuable as a mild tonic,  black Reishi is considered to be inferior to red Reishi because of its lower polysaccharide content.

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Yellow Ganoderma cousin

Benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Immune system support
  • Stress reduction
  • Anti-aging, anti-oxidant
  • Supports liver health
  • Improved energy
  • Cardiovascular health

In Chinese medicine it is used to calm the shen (spirit). You don’t go all trippy with it. A disturbed shen may exhibit as insomnia, forgetfulness, fatigue, listlessness.

It supports the Lungs by clearing phlegm which will stop coughing and wheezing for those with asthma.

It tonifies qi and nourishes Blood. Traditionally it is used to strengthen the body. Assisting digestion allows for better nutrition and strengthening in general.

Research is ongoing on understanding the actions of the chemicals in this mushroom. Among them are water-soluble polysaccharides are which have anti-tumor, immune modulating and blood pressure lowering effects. It also contains triterpenes, a class of them found in Reishi is known as ganoderic acids. Studies have indicated that ganoderic acids help alleviate common allergies by inhibiting histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.

Because of the polysacchrides it may be beneficial to take Vitamin C along with it to help its breakdown and absorption. Also take this in the morning on an empty stomach with water.

All immune-modulating substances such as Reishi should be taken with care for patients undergoing organ transplants and using immunosuppressive drugs.

It is always a good idea to consult a qualified health physician (preferably someone with experience in complementary health care) before consuming any dietary supplement.

Stay tuned in for the next installment: Cordyceps

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