Nutrition

Reishi Mushroom Benefits for Immunity and Depression

Reishi mushroom has been used for thousands of years to promote wellness. One way in which the reishi mushroom benefits health is by supporting the body's liver function.

SUMMARY

Reishi mushroom benefits your health in key ways. It contains compounds that provide potent support for the immune system. And studies show this prized herb can help relieve fatigue and depression. 

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Certain mushrooms have played an integral part in Eastern medicine for centuries. 

One example of this is the reishi mushroom. This mushroom is revered in Chinese medicine. Scientific research proves its excellent reputation is justified. 

Studies show that reishi mushroom benefits conditions such as depression and fatigue; data also indicates that it can help bolster your immune system. It’s available in various forms, from reishi mushroom powder to liquid extracts. 

What can the reishi mushroom do for your health? And does reishi mushroom powder deserve a spot on your supplement list? Let’s find out.  

In this article, we will:

  • Share some basic facts regarding the reishi mushroom
  • Explain what medicinal mushrooms such as reishi are, and talk about what they do for your health
  • Discuss reishi spores
  • Share insight regarding this mushroom’s active compounds
  • List key ways in which reishi mushroom benefits your well-being 
  • Explain how to consume reishi mushroom

What are reishi mushrooms?

The reishi mushroom is a fungus, herb and adaptogen. Adaptogens are plants that have unique nutritional qualities. 

There are several species of this mushroom. The one thing they have in common is that they all belong to the Ganoderma family. Ganoderma lucidum is the type of reishi mushroom most commonly used in herbalism, but the lineup also includes varieties such as Ganoderma sinensis and Ganoderma tsugae.

In China, this mushroom is called lingzhi. For centuries, it’s been used in China, Japan and other Asian countries, touted for its ability to boost health, immune function and longevity. In these cultures, reishi is also said to boost spiritual potency. 

Each reishi mushroom is large and dark, with a woody texture. Its surface is notably glossy — so much so, it has the appearance of being varnished.

All variants of the reishi mushroom are polypores. A polypore is a type of woody mushroom that has a hard exterior and tends to grow on trees. 

Fruiting body and fruit body are interchangeable terms used to describe a mushroom’s physical structure. When you consider that the mushroom is the “fruit” of the fungus that created it, these terms make sense. 

With the reishi mushroom, one fungus may produce one or more fruiting bodies. However, the number of fruiting bodies produced by a single fungus typically doesn’t exceed three.

The fruiting bodies of reishi mushrooms often vary in size and appearance. Some are cloud-shaped or flat-headed. And they can be as small as two inches or as large as 12 inches or more. 

What are medicinal mushrooms?

Reishi mushroom benefits your health thanks to properties it holds as a medicinal mushroom. 

The reishi mushroom is part of a family of fungi known as medicinal mushrooms or functional mushrooms. These mushrooms support good health in a variety of ways. 

They have been used for centuries — mainly in Asian countries — to treat infections. In more recent years, medicinal mushrooms have been used to treat cancer and pulmonary diseases.

According to the National Cancer Institute, medicinal mushrooms have been approved adjuncts to standard cancer treatments in Japan and China for more than three decades. The data shows they have an extensive clinical history for safe use, whether as a single agent or in combination with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. 

There are more than 100 species of medicinal mushrooms used throughout Asia. Here are some examples:

  • Reishi mushroom
  • Turkey tail mushroom
  • Cordyceps mushroom
  • Chaga mushroom
  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Maitake mushroom
  • Lion’s mane mushroom

What are reishi spores?

One way in which reishi mushroom benefits wellness is via its spores. What are reishi spores, and what can they do for your health?

When the fruiting body of the reishi mushroom matures, it releases spores. A spore is a one-celled reproductive unit produced by fungi such as mushrooms. Spores are released from the underside of the mushroom’s head, as shown in the illustration above.

Within a few minutes of their release, these spores cover the entire surface of the reishi mushroom. And within a few hours, the spores spread to cover the micro-environment that immediately surrounds the mushroom. 

Reishi spores have unique tonic and medicinal value. The reishi mushroom contains nutrients called triterpenes; spores are far richer in this nutrient than the fruiting body.

However, each spore has a hard coating that makes it indigestible to humans. To reap their benefits, spores are cracked via a modern technique. This technique allows the spore to be digested.

Cracked reishi spores are highly prized and are more expensive than other forms of reishi. In Asia, these spores have been used as solutions to treat cancer and promote longevity.

After the spores have been cracked, an oil can be extracted. This is known as reishi spore oil, and it’s a valued substance in traditional Chinese medicine.

Reishi benefits health via this spore oil. It’s claimed that reishi spore oil is about seven hundred times more immunologically potent than the mushroom itself. It’s a powerful ally for those seeking to include reishi in their wellness journey. 

Active compounds found in reishi mushrooms

Two of the most potent bioactive components found in reishi are triterpenoids (also known as triterpenes) and polysaccharides. Thanks to the presence of these compounds, reishi mushroom benefits wellness in compelling ways. 

Let’s start with the first active compound: the triterpenoid. Studies show that triterpenoids can help combat inflammation and viruses. They also work hard to prevent diabetes, and they fight the growth of cancer cells.  

The next active compound found in reishi mushrooms is the polysaccharide. Polysaccharides have anti-tumor effects. Also, a polysaccharide can protect against free radicals and mitigate the effects of oxidative stress.  

Reishi mushroom benefits

So, what are the ways in which reishi mushroom benefits your health? Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which a reishi supplement promotes healing.

Reishi benefit #1: Supports the immune system

Your immune function is your body’s first line of defense against harmful viruses and pathogens. Research shows that reishi benefits the immune system. 

Your white blood cells play a critical role in your body’s immune response. Reishi mushroom benefits the genes in white blood cells. This mushroom also alters inflammation pathways in these cells. In particular, studies show that reishi fosters the growth of a specific type of white blood cell known as a natural killer cell. This immune cell gets this name thanks to its ability to combat cancer and infections in the body. 

Reishi mushroom is used to treat cancer and infections, thanks to its effect on the immune system.

Reishi benefit #2: Kills cancer cells

Cancer is a leading cause of death in this country. The research indicates that reishi mushroom benefits cancer treatment in potent ways. 

In a 2001 study, reishi mushroom was shown to stop the growth of several types of human cancer cells.

Reishi has been studied for its effect on colorectal cancer. In research conducted in 2010, the number and size of tumors in the large intestine decreased after one year of treatment with reishi. 

Reishi benefit #3: Lifts depression

Depression can make your life experience a lot less enjoyable. Research shows that reishi mushroom benefits depression. 

In a 2013 study involving mice, a water-soluble reishi mushroom extract was shown to have an anti-depressant effect. 

Reishi benefit #4: Eases fatigue

Fatigue can have a negative impact on our productivity. It’s a common problem for busy professionals with a lot on their plates. The data shows that reishi benefits fatigue. 

One study looked at the effect that reishi powder made from spores had on the well-being of breast cancer survivors. Those who took reishi powder reported less fatigue. Also, they reported less depression and better overall quality of life. 

Reishi benefit #5: Improves liver function

For a healthy body, you need a healthy liver. The liver plays a vital role in detoxification, and it helps circulate blood and nutrients throughout the body. 

Reishi mushroom benefits liver health and liver function. According to a 2013 study, reishi  exerts protective effects on acute liver injury. It’s able to provide this thanks to its antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to battle harmful immune responses that can diminish liver function over time. 

How to consume reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom can be consumed in many different ways. Here are some options:

  • Reishi mushroom powder
  • Reishi mushroom capsules
  • Liquid reishi mushroom extract
  • Reishi spore powder
  • Reishi spore oil

Reishi is an edible mushroom. However, this herb’s hard texture makes it difficult to consume when it’s fresh. For this reason, it’s usually dried and powdered. 

Add powdered reishi mushroom as an ingredient in meals such as fried rice, stir-fry dishes and porridge. Use it to expand nourishment in your smoothies. Tap this powder to create mushroom coffee and reishi mushroom tea. 

Reishi mushroom benefits health by serving as a general tonic. For overall maintenance, the typical dose of reishi mushroom powder ranges from 1-1.5 grams per day.

For more severe health issues, the dose can range from 2-5 grams. 

Next steps

The research shows that reishi benefits well-being in numerous ways. Whether you choose reishi mushroom powder or reishi extract, give this dietary supplement a try to see if its supports your healing goals. 

A reishi mushroom supplement can work wonders, but it’s no substitute for a healthy diet. Make healthy nutrition a way of life by subscribing to Fresh N’ Lean. We deliver our chef-prepared meals to your door. Our meal plans range from paleo to keto, and they include nourishing foods that boster wellness.