Mushrooms have a very interesting place in the dietary world. You'll find everything from incredibly nutritious to down right poisonous (with a few hallucinogenics mixed in to boot). So we wouldn't recommend going out and just picking random mushrooms while walking the dog in the morning.
One mushroom that has been deemed safe for consumption is the reishi mushroom. It's okay if you haven't heard of this mushroom before. It's not something you see sitting next to the shiitake mushrooms in the produce section. However, it has plenty of health benefits.
What exactly can it do for your health and what sort of benefits does it have?
We've got the answers you're searching for and so much more, right here.
Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits and Ancient Medical Usage
The reishi mushroom is also known as a lingzhi mushroom (so if you see packaging referring to it as such you know it is the same thing). It grows primarily in East Asia. It grows in a kidney or clam shell shape and is an almost rust-like coloration.
The reishi mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. This makes it one of the longest used mushrooms in any form of medicine. The exact usage for the mushroom in the earlier years of Chinese medicine is not exactly known, although in the earliest texts refer to it as an immortal elixir...if that gives you any idea as to how it is viewed.
Prevent Tumor and Cancer Growth
One of the best ways to prevent cancer and tumor growth is to focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Reishi mushrooms boast powerful anti-cancer nutrients, including the all powerful antioxidants. You'll also find it packed with amino acids and beta-glucans (both of which are desirable to include in your dietary workout for when you want to improve your muscle recovery time following a workout.
When you break down the mushrooms, you'll find something known as polysaccharides. This is most commonly found in beets, but it is also found in this form of mushroom. Combined with the antioxidant triterpenoid, this helps bolster your immunity to cell mutations, which is what leads to cancer cells developing.
The addition of reishi mushrooms have been found to help fight off a host of different cancers, including prostate, lungs, liver, breast and ovarian cancers. The protective elements found within the mushrooms also go in helping you if you are currently undergoing chemo or radiation treatments.
Improve Your Heart and Balance Blood Pressure
One of the most common misconceptions regarding your heart's health is you always want to drop your blood pressure. That is not always the case. Your blood pressure can be both too high and too low. Reishi mushrooms in general help balance out your blood pressure. Now, yes, typically bad blood pressure is due to high blood pressure.
These mushrooms will help reduce inflammation within the blood vessels and arteries. At the same time, it also helps regulate your own hormonal balance. By doing this, your blood pressure will level off while improving the strength and health of your heart.
Heart problems and high blood pressure are caused by a number of different issues. This includes hormone issues that stem from elevated levels of stress. Thyroid disease can also lead to the development of high blood pressure. As the reishi mushroom helps correct your hormone levels, it assists with several culprits of blood pressure problems.
Avoid Infections and Viruses With Reishi Mushrooms
One of the reishi mushroom health benefits is protecting your body from potential viruses and infections. This is especially important not only during cold and flu season, but if you have been injured and you want to prevent additional infections from causing further health problems. The mushroom contains what is known as triterpenes (one of the best ways to identify this in a plant is if the plant tastes especially bitter. This works in nature as a way to prevent animals from eating the plant).
This bitterness helps improve the lining of nearly the entire digestive system. This way, if an infection or virus enters your body, it becomes less likely to be absorbed into the system. It also fights off bad bacteria while leaving good bacteria alone.
Additionally, as the mushroom has been found to improve blood circulation, which in turn improves the body's ability to deliver nutrients, energy and oxygen to other areas of the body, you will not feel as tired. When the body is tired, it is at a greater risk for external treats in the form of infections and viruses.
By lowering your level of inflammation, it allows the body to fight off the infections faster, so even if you do catch a virus or develop an infection, it will not last as long. If you are prone to urinary track infections or infections within the sinus and respiratory system, this is an exceptionally beneficial supplement to add to your regimen. It can even help reduce the symptoms from other viruses and infections including bronchitis, hepatitis, HIV and AIDS.
Have you felt sluggish as of late?
Perhaps you suddenly seem to feel tired for no real reason. After all, you haven't really changed any part of your diet or daily routine, yet you feel tired, like your dragging the entire day. There are a number of potential culprits behind this problem, including an elevated level of toxins and heavy metals in your body.
The accumulation of these toxins within your body will cause you to feel sluggish and slow down your productivity throughout the day.
The reishi mushrooms help filter out and remove these toxins and higher metal levels that have built up inside of your body. It also can help fight off some effects of diabetes when taken for longer periods of time (12 weeks or longer, although this should only be done in supplement form and not in the powdered variation of the mushroom).
Detox Your Body and Improved Liver Health
The liver helps take care of all other areas of the body. It works as the filter to clean, sort and circulate important nutrients and healthy blood. Due to this, if your liver is not functioning correctly or is in poor health, it will affect the rest of your body. That is why there are so many liver detoxes out there. You might hear people talk about detoxing their livers after a weekend of heavy drinking. We've got news for you.
A few days of detoxification are not going to revert the damage you did to your liver and kidneys after a heavy weekend of drinking. It takes substantially longer than that. It's one of the many reasons why we suggest not to go on drinking binges (the occasional alcoholic drink does have health benefits, but the key, as is the case with everything else, is in moderation).
With regards to improving your liver health, the reishi mushroom has been found to bring about what is known as hepatoprotective effects. This helps boost antioxidants properties in and around the liver, which in turn will help kill off threats to the liver, which in turn helps boost liver function. This helps improve how your liver works while also reducing your chance of developing liver disease.
Who Should Not Consume Reishi
The FDA does not have substantial information and test results in regards to the mushroom and its affects on the human body. However, despite it being a plant, it has been found to affect the body in a few negative ways when consumed over the course of longer periods of time.
For starters, there are many ways to purchase and consume reishi. Do not take it via a powdered form for more than a month at a time. This is because it has been connected to causing problems of the liver. The powdered form can cause differing processing issues within the live, which is why it is usually best to take it by mouth in an extract form or in its unprocessed, natural form.
Even then though, it is a good idea to not take it continuously for over a year. If you stack supplements, it might be in your best interest to stack reishi and cut away from it for a few months at a time.
If you are pregnant or breast feeding it is best to not consume the product. This isn't to say it is bad for you, there just isn't any real concrete research to say it is safe. Our motto regarding pregnancy is always it's better to play it safe than sorry.
Additionally, if you have any kind of bleeding disorder, taking higher amounts of reishi has been found to increase bleeding if you currently suffer from bleeding disorders. If you have low blood pressure, you should avoid consuming the mushroom. One of the health benefits is it does lower blood pressure, but this is not good if you already have low blood pressure.
On top of this, higher dosage of the mushroom can cause clotting disorders also known as thrombocytopenia. So if you have bleeding conditions or you already have thrombocytopenia you'll want to avoid taking the mushroom.
Lastly, if you are scheduled for surgery it is best to discontinue taking the mushroom at least two weeks prior to surgery. There have been some signs that people who actively consume the mushroom up to their surgery date are at risk of additional bleeding during surgery, which can lead to other health complications. As always, it is always important to inform your doctor of any and all supplements you're taking, including reishi mushroom extracts, powders or medication.
How to Consume Reishi Mushrooms
There are a handful of different ways you can add reishi mushrooms to your diet. Generally, you will not eat the mushroom as-is. The flavor is not overtly pleasing on its own, so eating it like this usually is not desirable. However, chopping up and added into soup is probably the best direct consumption option available to you.
You may be able to purchase the dried out version of the mushroom from a local health food store and then add it to your soup in order to rehydrate it. The other direct method of consumption is in the form of a tea. The mushroom is ground up an usually combined with other herbal ingredients in order to make a tea.
Outside of soup and teat, the best ways to add the product directly to your diet is in the form of either powder or extract. However, as we covered in the "Who Shouldn't Consume This" section, if you do go with powder you'll want to limit your usage to no more than a month at a time, otherwise you risk kidney and liver issues.
When consuming the mushroom, the best way is to pair it off with either Vitamin C or Vitamin C based foods. This helps ensure the mushrooms are properly absorbed while kickstarting the antioxidants found within the mushrooms.
When shopping around for the highest quality mushrooms, generally the purest available supplements are from Japan, as fewer additives are included with products from Japan.
There is such a wide world of mushrooms. Some you might not cook with, yet are still packed with healthy benefits. Reishi mushrooms are one example you need to look into adding to your diet. Whether you're looking to combat a viral infection or you suffer from high blood pressure or even experience trouble sleeping, the reishi mushroom may just be the answer you're looking for.
So whether you purchase the plant itself or look to add it in the form of a supplement, you can find reishi mushrooms at your local health food grocery and supplement store.