Using Reishi Mushrooms for Mood, Vitality, and Wellness

Photo: Wylde One

Though Ganoderma lucidum, or reishi, has been used medicinally for at least around 2,000 years, the so-called “immortality mushroom” is in high demand after modern scientific studies report findings that corroborate many of the benefits outlined by its historical reputation.

Reishi is considered an adaptogenic supermushroom. As a refresher, adaptogens help the body reduce harm caused by mental and physical stress by supporting the body’s adrenal functions, a key component of healthy hormone processing that affects the body’s metabolism, blood pressure, and stress response, among other functions.

Though it’s often used to boost immunity and ward off sickness, use of reishi goes far beyond simply addressing problematic symptoms in the unwell. Proponents of the nutrient-packed supermushroom suggest its benefits include everything from increasing athletic performance and stamina as well as mental performance. The latter is owed to its status as a nootropic substance, or a cognitive enhancer that can help with memory, brain function, mood, and concentration.

Other benefits of reishi:

  • Source of powerful immune boosting polysaccharide beta-glucans
  • Lower blood pressure by improving efficiency of blood flow to the heart
  • Encourage healthy cell growth and liver repair
  • Strengthen cardiac function
  • Neuroprotective properties that can help the brain defend against symptoms of aging
  • Source of nerve growth factor, a vital source of neuron protection

Unlike some other nutritious mushrooms, it has no poisonous look-alikes, but like elsewhere in the wellness industry, the products available to consumers aren’t always up to snuff. A 2017 study found that only 26.3% of reishi supplements on the market in the United States reflected the information on their label, suggesting consumers may be getting subprime reishi in their routines. How to ensure the reishi you're using is potent? Taste it — it should be bitter, and not sweet. The bitterness is due to the presence of triterpenes, which next to the beta-glucans content is one of the most beneficial elements of the mushroom. If it is sweet, it can indicate that may be diluted with fillers like dextrose or grains.

How to Use
Because of its characteristic woody, bitter taste, common methods of reishi ingestion include teas, tinctures, capsules, and protein powders. Though many prefer these formats rather than consuming in cuisine due to taste, the mushroom can safely be consumed in dishes as desired.

In high doses, use of reishi may slow blood clotting, so it’s not advised to take in conjunction with a blood-thinner. Likewise, if you are taking medication to lower your blood pressure, avoid consuming high doses as it may compound the effect to an unsafe degree. As usual when integrating new products in your wellness routine, it's best to consult with your physician to ensure there are no interruptions or conflicts. If you are in the clear to incorporate it, you may find it helps you to balance your mood, ward off sickness, and activate your cognitive prowess, naturally.

References
Wu, Ding-Tao et al. “Evaluation on quality consistency of Ganoderma lucidum dietary supplements collected in the United States.” Scientific reports vol. 7,1 7792. 10 Aug. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06336-3

Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/

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