Reishi: The Queen of the Mushroom Kingdom

Lisa Petty, PhD @ 2021-08-13 18:17:10 -0700

While it’s true that traditional Asian medicine has turned to mushrooms for centuries, we’re still only on the cusp of fully understanding the many ways functional fungi can optimize our body and mind. One of the most interesting members of the Mushroom Kingdom is Reishi, a fungi ingested for over 2,000 years for various health benefits. Dubbed the “Queen of Mushrooms,” Reishi is believed to promote, among other things, longevity and wellbeing. But before we get into the advantages of Reishi—as a potential stamina booster, stress reliever, and sleep aid— let’s explore what it is.

So what are Reishi mushrooms?

Reishi—also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi—grows all over the world, but in particular these mushrooms have been harvested and put to use in traditional medicines in Asian countries for centuries. There are six predominant forms of Reishi mushrooms, but the one most generally associated with traditional medicine—and likewise the one most often studied for its health benefits—is Red Reishi. Its red, kidney-shaped mushroom cap can be found on the bark of various hardwoods, like oak. Reishi can even continue producing their spores on dead wood, with that kind of resilience being just one of the reasons it’s been nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality,” and why it’s used as an all-natural immunity booster.

While there’s no harm in ingesting Reishi if you ever come across it in the wild, it’s also true that there are better ways to comfortably enjoy the full benefits of the mushroom. Simply put, Reishi isn’t a culinary delight— Edible, sure, but the flavour profile of the fungi is quite bitter. In turn, supplement makers reduce the fruiting body of Reishi down into a powder, which can later be mixed into anything from smoothies to soups.

What might it do for you?

Immune system support

One of the many established benefits of Reishi is its positive effects on our immune systems . In ancient times, ingesting Reishi was believed to be a pathway to immortality. There is some truth to that, at least in the sense that the functional mushrooms help support and supercharge our immune systems in various ways.

Reishi mushrooms are dense with beta glucans—a form of soluble fibre that enhances the immune system—and other beneficial chemical compounds. Studies have shown that taking Reishi regularly can effectively stimulate the activity of Natural Killer (NK) cells, specific kinds of white blood cells that help ward off infection and disease. Test-tube studies have even found that the mushroom possesses anti-tumour properties , and some colorectal cancer patients taking Reishi as part of a broader treatment plan found that their tumours had decreased significantly.

As a broader immunity booster, studies have also shown that Reishi acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Just as it boosts the white blood cells, the effects of taking Reishi can also have a hand in lowering inflammation levels. The lower those levels are, the better prepared your body is to fight off infection and inflammation.

Some studies have also suggested Reishi can be a factor in keeping your heart healthy. Part of this was attributed to the antioxidants naturally found within the fruiting body of Reishi, which helped increase the production of HDL cholesterol —the “good” kind of cholesterol— and can also decrease blood pressure.

Adaptogen/Stress Relief

Red Reishi is also an adaptogen— a natural substance that has been found to help reduce and resist the negative effects of stress. When ingested, Reishi supports the function of adrenal glands, which in turn produce cortisol, the hormone that helps our bodies adjust to daily stressors. Studies have also found that people taking Reishi over an extended period of time reported an overall improvement in their quality of life. A case study with a group of cancer patients, for instance, found that over a four-week period, Reishi helped alleviate anxiety, symptoms of depression, and general fatigue.

If you’re facing the tail end of a hectic work day, the adaptogens found in Reishi mushroom supplements could help counteract those high-stress moments.

Sleep/Relaxation Support

Reishi could also net a positive effect on your sleep cycle. Notably, one of the many usages of Reishi in traditional Asian medicine is to cure restlessness and insomnia. And if you’re in need of catching a few extra zs, we’ve got good news for you—there’s reason to believe Reishi can act as an all-natural sleep aid.

An animal study showed improved sleep cycles as the study progressed. On the third day of the trial, the animals experienced a significantly increased total sleep time, while mid-sleep fidgeting had also decreased.

Supercharge your wellness routine with Optimi’s Reishi supplement

Reishi is considered the Queen of the Mushroom Kingdom for a reason—several reasons, if we’re being honest. Whether it’s supercharging white blood cells for immunity, acting as an all-natural anxiety reducer, or even as a way to cope with restless nights, Reishi is a versatile fungus has the potential to keep your system calm and collected.

Want to find out more about the functional approach of Optimi’s convenient line of single and multi-strain capsules? Find out how our Reishi capsules and other nutraceutical functional mushroom products can optimize your body and mind over here.