Reishi mushrooms are being hailed as a new super-food, and being added to everything from coffee to hot chocolate. But what are these strange fungi, and why are people taking them as a supplement? We’ve got it all wrapped up in this go-to guide.
What are Functional Mushrooms?
Reishi, also known as lingzhi or Ganoderma lucidum, is a type of fungus. It has been highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years. In fact, the so-called “mushroom of immortality”, as it was once known, was so sought-after used to sell for its weight in gold!
Nowadays, these medicinal or “functional” mushrooms continue to be used in traditional medicine, and are also a popular botanical supplement among athletes, thanks to their energy-boosting potential.
How Does Reishi Work?
Reishi mushrooms contain a high concentration of phytochemicals—biologically active compounds that are thought to have numerous health benefits. These phytochemicals and adaptogens include triterpenes (antioxidants thought to help regulate blood sugar) and sterols (thought to reduce cholesterol).
How Should I Take Reishi?
Reishi mushrooms can be eaten fresh like any edible mushrooms, and they have a meaty, savory flavor. In traditional Chinese medicine, the mushrooms are typically dried and ground into a powder. This is then steeped in hot water to make a bitter tea or soup. In the West, it is usually taken as an herbal supplement to get the maximum benefit from this functional mushroom.
Keep an eye out for some exciting news from PurePower about brand new formulations—hint: they might contain reishi extract!
You might hear about numerous benefits of reishi mushrooms, from improved performance and recovery time for athletes to improved sleep and better heart health. However, not all of these effects have been scientifically proven. Let’s take a look at three key benefits of reishi that are backed by science.
1. Immune Boost
There is some evidence to show that reishi mushrooms can help to boost the immune system. They are thought to improve the function of white blood cells, which help to fight off infection. This effect has been seen most noticeably among athletes who are facing stressful conditions. Reishi mushrooms are also thought to have immunoregulatory properties, meaning that they could help to ensure that immune responses in the body are appropriate to the threat. Overblown immune responses are responsible for most allergies, as well as other inflammatory conditions.
2. Fighting Stress and Fatigue
It’s a sad truth that stress and fatigue often come hand-in-hand, with each one making the other worse. Studies have shown that taking reishi over multiple weeks could help to reduce both stress and fatigue, especially among people who are recovering from other conditions. In a study about women living with the chronic condition fibromyalgia, the participants’ overall health was seen to improve after taking reishi extract over a 6-week period.
3. Gut Health
Digestive health is vital to our overall health, as it affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and make energy available. A number of studies have found that, when taken regularly, reishi helped to reduce inflammation in the gut, which can improve digestive function and fight off disease.