Last Updated on May 8, 2021 by James Matthews
Mushrooms are pretty amazing. As a member of the fungi family, there is a lot more to mushrooms than what meets the eye. Actually, the largest part of a mushroom isn’t the plant that grows out of the ground, it is the underground network of roots that connects it to other plants and even serves as a method of communication between plants. That’s right, all mushrooms grow an underground, silk-like root system called mycelium and it serves as a way for all of the mushrooms to connect and thrive together.
That’s not the only thing that makes mushrooms amazing. Aside from the fact that they contain tons of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, some mushrooms even possess the ability to help your body fight cancer, adapt to stress, sleep better, and so much more. Some mushrooms can help with focus, energy and help improve memory. Who knew?!
Reishi mushrooms are one of those powerful mushrooms that have adaptogenic properties (more on that later). The mushrooms are an extremely versatile and powerful fungus. They are known to boost the immune system, have cancer fighting properties, can help with fatigue and depression, and may also help heart health.
There are some risks and side effects that might be associated with taking reishi mushroom extract as with any supplement. Below we’ll discuss what exactly reishi mushrooms are, where you can find them, how to take reishi extract, and some potential risks.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens a powerful plant extract mostly found in mushrooms but also found in other types of plants as well. Adaptogens help our bodies adapt to stress. Basically, adaptogens work by increasing the resistance phase of general adaptation syndrome. General adaptation syndrome occurs when the body is exposed to some type of stress, either physical or mental. There are three stages to general adaptation syndrome: alarm, resistance and exhaustion.
Adaptogens help the resistance phase last longer and prolong the time before we hit the exhaustion phase. This helps us power through stressful situations, whether it be a long work meeting, study session, or something else entirely. Adaptogens help improve our overall health by helping us feel satisfied from achieving more and working more efficiently.
How to Take Adaptogens
Adaptogens typically come in powder form and dissolve easily in hot liquid. Some adaptogens are available in the form of gel capsules or a liquid tincture. Typically, it will be recommended that you take a very small dose starting out.
Adaptogens work best when taken on a regular basis, so it is important to find a way to include them in your daily routines. Think adding them to your morning oatmeal or coffee everyday. Also be sure to follow the instructions carefully because these are super powerful little plant extracts.
Examples of Adaptogens
There are all different types of adaptogens out there. Here are a few examples: ashwagandha, lion’s mane, reishi, turmeric, chage, cordyceps, and licorice root. When it comes to deciding which type of adaptogens you want to take, it just comes down to deciding what types of issues you are facing.
Some adaptogens work great for feelings of burnout and stress, such as ashwagandha. While some other adaptogens are great for focus, such as lion’s mane. Reishi can help with anxiety, stress and has immune boosting properties. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the benefits of adaptogens.
What is Reishi?
Reishi is a type of fungus that is sometimes also referred to as lingzhi. It has a kidney shaped mushroom cap, a fan-like appearance and a reddish hue. Reishi mushrooms are often found growing at the base of trees such as maple. Reishi mushrooms can be hard to find as only two or three trees out of 10,000 will have them growing on their trunk.
Although there is no clinical data proving the benefits of reishi, it has been used for centuries in ancient Chinese medicine for all types of ailments. Reishi mushrooms are often grown and harvested in China and shipped to other countries. Some historical evidence shows the use of reishi mushrooms dating back to 4,000 years ago.
Benefits of Reishi
Reishi is a powerful plant extract with benefits ranging all the way from immune support to stress relief. Below we’ve outlined some of the most common benefits and included some studies as well.
Immune system support
Reishi mushrooms boost the immune system by altering inflammatory pathways and increasing the production of white blood cells that can fight off infections. They have strong properties that have been proven to help the immune system in a positive way. Reishi definitely benefits those that are ill, as one study found that cancer patients who used reishi regularly saw an increase in white blood cell counts. One study on healthy adults didn’t see much of a difference in adults who took reishi for 4 weeks. So it is still unclear exactly how reishi affects those that are healthy, but the studies show that it can help improve the health of people with medical conditions.
Multiple studies have found that reishi mushroom has the potential to kill cancer cells in test tubes. One study also found that out of 4,000 breast cancer patient survivors, 59% of them had regularly consumed reishi mushroom. Reishi has also been found to improve the quality of life for cancer patients as well as help improve their white blood cell counts.
Could Help with Depression
Although reishi is most often recognized for its immune boosting properties, it has tons of other benefits on the human body as well. One study found that patients with a disease that causes fatigue had improved energy levels when taking reishi extract regularly. The participants in this same study also reported less depression during the time they were taking the reishi.
Other Potential Benefits
Some studies have shown that reishi can help with certain risk factors for heart disease. Although not entirely conclusive, one study also found that reishi could lower blood sugar in animals and humans. However, the majority of evidence has proven against this theory. Some also claim that reishi can improve antioxidant status in the body but again, no conclusive evidence for this claim has been found yet.
Reishi has been found to cause mild side effects in some participants of a double blind study. Participants who took reishi were more likely to experience slight GI upset than those who took the placebo. Again, these were mild side effects and could have been unrelated.
There have been contrasting studies regarding the effect of reishi on the liver. Two different case studies have shown reishi causing a damaging effect on the liver. But then another study found that reishi had no negative effect on the liver. I think it safe to assume that all supplements will affect people differently, so pay attention to your body when you’re taking something new and stop taking it if something doesn’t feel right.
Ways to Take Reishi Mushroom
Reishi is most commonly available as a powder. The powder is made by dehydrating reishi mushrooms and grinding them up into a powerful powder. Reishi powder is one of the best ways to take it because your body absorbs it more quickly and it is easy to incorporate into one of your daily meals or beverages. It does not have a strong flavor and can simply be sprinkled into anything. The recommended serving of reishi powder is about 1/4- ½ teaspoon at a time, but definitely read the package of your product for more information.
Reishi mushroom is available in a lot of other forms as well. Reishi is available in the form of gel capsules, tinctures, or you can buy the whole mushroom and consume it that way. If you choose to purchase reishi mushrooms in their natural form, there are a number of ways that you can consume them at home.
You can consume whole reishi mushrooms by boiling them into a batch of your favorite broth, you can make tea out of reishi mushrooms by simmering it in water for a while, or you can even dehydrate it and make your own reishi powder. Although reishi mushrooms are obviously safe to eat, you may not want to eat them on their own because they may be a bit too tough for you to chew on.
Where does it come from?
Reishi mushrooms grow naturally throughout Asia, more specifically China. They grow on the trunks and bases of large trees, including the maple tree. Most reishi products are made with mushrooms that are first grown in Asia and then shipped to the United States.
Where to buy Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushrooms are available to purchase in a number of places. Some online stores sell multiple types of reishi such as powders and tinctures. You could most likely find reishi products for sale at your local herbal shop. You can even grow your own reishi at home with an at home reishi grow kit.
How Much Do Reishi Mushrooms Cost?
Depending on how you buy your reishi this answer will vary. Reishi mushroom extracts can range in price but on average, you can probably expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 on a container of reishi extract. That may sound like a lot to some, but it really isn’t. Given the tiny dose of reishi that is necessary to feel it’s powerful effects, a container of reishi could last you for years and the benefits you could feel will definitely make it worth it.
Reishi is an amazing mushroom with tons of benefits. Mushrooms themselves have a lot more to them than just being a fungus. Mushrooms are complex plants that can help your body in so many different ways. Some mushrooms contain adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are chemicals that help the body adapt to stress. Reishi mushrooms are a type of adaptogen.
Reishi mushrooms are available for consumption in a number of different forms. When it comes to the studies that have been done on reishi, a lot of information varies. Some studies are contradictory or inconclusive. Reishi will definitely affect everyone a little bit differently. Although, some studies have proven that negative side effects are possible for some people who took reishi, that isn’t the case with everyone. Overall, when taking any supplement, you should be paying attention to your body and the way you feel when taking it, especially if it is something that you’ve newly incorporated.
Reishi has the potential to benefit your body in a number of ways. Reishi could boost your immune system, prevent cancer and potentially improve your heart health. There are a lot of different brands that produce and sell reishi products. Reishi is available in multiple forms including powder, capsules, and tinctures. You can also buy reishi in its natural and whole form and make your own teas and powders.
At the end of the day, if you do your research you can form your own opinions on whether you think reishi is something that is right for you. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should definitely check with your doctor before starting to take any type of reishi, as you would with any supplement. The information that’s out there is a bit contradictory so it is best to just do what feels most safe for you.
Reishi is best taken in small doses on a regular basis, so find a good way to incorporate it into your daily routine and be sure to follow the dosing instructions of the product you buy. There are a lot of different brands out there selling adaptogens so be sure to do some research and strive to find a transparent and credible brand to buy from. Look for brands that share a lot of information about their production practices or who have strong reviews from other customers.
I think most modern-day people could benefit from a product that will help us feel less stress, so why not go ahead and give reishi a try.