Health Benefits of the Reishi Mushroom

Mar 5th 2011 at 5:44 PM

Its either you’ve heard about it, or not. Reishi mushrooms are making their Western debut – fascinating us with its many talents. It has been called the Wonder Herb – because it cures a multitude of diseases and some even claim it can make you grow some wisdom!
Reishi’s scientific name is Ganoderma lucidum.

Its origins came from the Greek words Ganos “brightness”, Derma “skin” and lucidum meaning “shining”. If you come across raw G.lucidum, you will immediately relate to its Greek origins. This mushroom has a very shiny, dark brown to red skin.

It grows as shelves on deadwood like maple or oak. It’s not really like other kinds of mushrooms that grow anywhere – this is why only the rich and royal get to consume it.

Nowadays, technology has allowed us to culture this mushroom in laboratories. G. lucidum is called as Ling Zhi in China where it has been used for about 2000 years to cure anything from chest pain to insomnia.

Ling means “spiritual, mysterious, effective” while Zhi translates to “plant of longevity, mushroom”. Reishi is actually what the Japanese call this wonder mushroom.

Traditionally, the mushroom is picked from the forest, sliced into thin pieces and boiled. Reishi is consumed by the Chinese on a regular basis (as tea or soup) and not just when they are ill.

This is because Reishi is a very potent immunity booster- this means that regular consumption will increase your chances of fighting off disease. Chemicals called water soluble polysaccharides – a form of carbohydrate – give Reishi most of its medicinal properties like lowering blood pressure. Compounds unique to Reishi called ganodermic acids act as anti-histamines that help relieve allergies.

According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Reishi can be clinically used in patients with HIV or cancer. Its beta-glucan and triterpenes component stimulates special cells called macrophages that help the immune system fight the said illnesses. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are also given Reishi to help them deal with unwanted side effects like nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Reishi also inhibits platelets from clumping together which may prevent strokes and heart attacks.

So, if you are already taking anti-hypertensives or anti-coagulants, exercise caution when taking Reishi. Better yet, consult your physician.

Other benefits of Reishi include:

-Promotes sleep and relaxation. Reishi has a calming effect.
-It’s good for the heart too! Reishi has cholesterol lowering properties in addition to regulating blood pressure
-It’s your immune system’s best friend.

Reishi helps your immune system to be its very best – fights off common bacterial and viral infections. It also helps in fighting internal stressors like tumors.

It’s an analgesic and anti-inflammatory mushroom as well

In traditional Chinese medicine, Reishi also helps in the recovery of hepatitis and other chronic liver diseases.

With all of those benefits, it’s hard to let this Reishi mushroom just pass you by. It’s a mushroom that has worn many hats in the past 2000 years and maybe there is a reason why it has been around for so long. So go ahead – give it a try.

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