If you think mushrooms are only good for topping off your pizza, then think again. For over 2,000 years, Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) have been heralded as the secret to keeping people healthy and active well into their golden years so it comes as no surprise that in the far east, they are often referred to as the ‘mushroom of immortality’. Mushrooms have been used in Chinese and Japanese culture medicinally for centuries and the latter has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. Reishi were once considered a treasure greater than any jewel and this much-adored mushroom was often reserved for royalty to extend life and improve health. Thankfully, it is more widely available nowadays as effective cultivation techniques have been developed so even if you’re not royalty, you can still enjoy Reishi’s many benefits.
So where can you get this unique, ancient mushroom? How do you take it? What are the benefits?
With its’ powerful anti-ageing properties and numerous other health benefits, it is something that you won’t want to miss out on, so let’s get started and take a look at what Reishi has to offer.
REISHI UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Besides the numerous vitamins and minerals Reishi contains, the key to this mushroom’s healing potential is the multiple bioactive ingredients it contains, such as polysaccharides and triterpenes. Triterpenes are thought to be responsible for the lipid-lowering, antioxidant effects and potential anti-cancer effects of Reishi. Polysaccharides have shown to stabilize blood pressure, blood sugar and have an effect on free radicals. Beta-D-glucans, a type of polysaccharide, have also shown to stimulate the immune system.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF REISHI The benefits of Reishi are wide and impressive. Over the past 50 years, extensive research has found that they can support many health conditions. Studies have shown Reishi to be immune modulating, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, sleep-promoting, antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-ageing, anti-diabetic, anti-oxidative and anti-ulcer.
The beauty of the Reishi mushroom is that it’s capable of doing so much, yet compared to conventional medication, it is generally non-toxic and has very few side effects. As an adaptogen it works in harmony with our body – always helping to bring us into balance.
HOW TO TAKE REISHI
Although they are edible, they are often described as having a bitter and tough texture – so you’re much more likely to find them in a different form. They grow above ground and produce a ‘fruiting body’ along with connective strands called mycelium. For most of history, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, fully grown Reishi mushrooms were dried, cut into slices, boiled in hot water and then steeped to make a healing tea or soup. Nowadays you can buy manufactured Reishi mushroom as a tea, powder or in extract form.
Reishi tea Having a Reishi tea is an easy addition to your daily routine, swapping for other hot drinks. It does however have a lower potency than the extract and the taste is slightly bitter.
Reishi powder Powder is easy to add to smoothies, yogurts and quick to take on-the-go. Again though, potency is lower than an extract.
Reishi extract If you want to unlock this unique mushrooms’s benefits to guarantee therapeutic potency then opting for an extract is the way to go. Extract can be 10, 20 or even 100 times the concentration of a powder. For example if you compared a 500mg tablet of Reishi Mushroom powder to a 500mg tablet of a Reishi Mushroom 10:1 extract you would find it would take ten 500mg tablets of the powder to equal one 500mg tablet of 10:1 extract. So although extracts may appear to cost more, you’re getting a lot more for your money!
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Unfortunately not all Reishi is created equally. There are poor quality, cheap products on the market and it is important to do your research carefully to ensure you are purchasing an authentic high quality product.
Look out for: • Extraction ratio (the higher the extraction ratio, the more potent and concentrated it is. Extracts that use almost no excipient in their production are known as “pure yield” and they are always the best option) • Ingredients label for any added fillers (you want as pure an extract as possible) • The species name (Ganoderma lucidum is the most potent species)
To achieve optimum absorption, experts recommend to take Reishi mushrooms in the morning on an empty stomach with water and Vitamin C.
So there you have it, a quick snapshot into the fascinating world of Reishi mushrooms!