There are hundreds of varieties of mushrooms in the world, and a select few of them are known to have significant health benefits, if used properly and, presumably, under the guidance of a health-care professional. One of the ‘star’ players in the field of mushrooms with health benefits is the reishi mushroom, which has been used for many centuries, predominantly in Asian countries and primarily for their effectiveness in staving off infections.
What Are Reishi Mushrooms?
Also known as lingzhi, per webmd.com, the reishi mushroom is a fungus that is grown in hot and humid environments in Asia, where it has been a staple in Eastern medicine, per healthline.com. Several of the types of molecules in the reishi mushroom have been identified as being responsible for providing the mushroom’s health effects – including triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans.
Reishi mushrooms, which are fan-shaped and orange to reddish brown in color, per wellandgood.com, were once a rare find in nature. That’s why they were often harvested and reserved for royalty when first used in Asian cultures thousands of years ago. While they can be eaten fresh, reishi mushrooms aren’t very palatable because of their woody texture and bitter taste. In more recent years they’ve been cultivated commercially and sold in numerous forms to include teas, tinctures, and capsules, and as an ingredient in hot cocoa, beauty products and energy bars.
7 Health-Inducing Properties of Reishi Mushrooms
Before diving into a health-oriented regimen of reishi mushroom products, be sure to discuss your planned use with your physician or other health-care professional as there are some concerns about using them. For one thing, consistent long-term use of reishi mushroom has been linked to increased risk of side effects, albeit minor ones, such as digestive distress. It is also recommended that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, are scheduled to undergo surgery, or have low blood pressure should avoid using reishi mushroom products, per healthline.com.
- Bolster the immune system. Per healthline.com, test-tube studies have demonstrated that reishi can induce a positive effect on the genes in white blood cells, which are instrumental parts of your immune system. Additionally, reishi can alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells.
- Fight fatigue and depression. One study referenced at healthline.com, scrutinized the effects of reishi mushrooms on 132 test subjects who had neurasthenia, which is a condition linked to aches, pains, dizziness, headaches, and irritability. The subjects were provided reishi supplements for eight weeks, after which it was found that their fatigue had been reduced and their overall well-bring improved.
- Reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). This was indicated in a 2014 study involving rats, per wellandgood.com. Note: If you’re taking blood pressure medication, be sure to have that doctor consultation. The combination of reishi mushroom and the drug could lower your BP to dangerous levels. Likewise, reishi has been shown apparently able to lower total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Stave off effects of allergies. Per wellandgood.com, studies have suggested that reishi might have antihistamine properties while they also are apparently capable of enhancing your body’s oxygen supply, which should be good news to those suffering from chronic allergic asthma.
- Help diabetics. Reishi mushrooms have been found in research to reduce blood sugar levels, possibly by thwarting an enzyme that manufactures glucose, per wellandgood.com. A separate group of researchers also found evidence that reishi mushrooms might alleviate kidney complications in diabetes patients.
- Protect the brain. More research still needs to be performed in this area, but some research has shown an apparent ability for reishi mushroom to be helpful for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and possibly able to guard the brain against seizures.
- Antioxidant. Reishi can enhance your body’s antioxidant status, per healthline.com, a characteristic that makes reishi possibly able to help prevent cell damage in your body.