Reishi: The Miracle Mushroom
Jun 30, 2016 10:34PM
By Dr. Rene Ng, DOM, AP, L.Ac
Throughout the world, many Chinese herbs have gained recognition for their medicinal properties and their abilities to benefit people suffering from various forms of diseases. You may be familiar with some of them. For example, Ginseng (Ren Shen) is known to strengthen an individual’s constitution, leading to longevity and a full life. Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua) leaves, when boiled into tea, benefit the eyes, treat hypertension and lower blood pressure. Cordyceps (Dong Chong Xia Cao) is a powerful tonic, hugely popular among the geriatric population and individuals with weakened immune systems. Hawthorn (Shan Zha) fruit is known for its cholesterol-lowering properties. These are among the more popular ones. And high on the popularity list is a mushroom knows as Reishi.
Reishi Mushroom (Ling Zhi), is famous for its many medicinal properties, and is among the most sought-after medicinal mushroom herbs in China, especially the Red Reishi Mushroom. Over nearly two thousand years, Reishi has earned the distinguished reputation as an immortality herb in China, and was commonly called the “Mushroom of Immortality,” “Great Protector” and “Ten-Thousand-Year Mushroom,” among other names. In Chinese Medicine, Reishi is classified among the most powerful tonics for promoting longevity and overall health. In around 200 AD, the Chinese Materia Medica placed Reishi first among 365 superior herbs, ranking it higher than even ginseng. Here are some known benefits of Reishi:
Yields Strong Anti-Cancer Properties:
Reishi is widely recognized for its powerful anti-cancer properties, and is one of the strongest Chinese herbs used to fight tumors and cancers in China. Based on research, the primary active compounds in the Reishi include polysaccharides, triterpeniods, alkatoids, glucosides, steroids, enzymes, lipids, trace minerals, proteins and amino acids. Polysaccharides are naturally occurring macrophage activators.
When activated, macrophages can assist in recognizing and killing tumor cells, stimulating the immune system and boosting the production of bone marrow. Reishi has long been referred to as the “king herb” for battling cancer in Chinese Medicine, and this mushroom is well-known for its ability to combat active cancers, shrink tumors and prevent cancer altogether. In the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (volume 9, 2007), studies showed that Reishi mushroom was not only beneficial as an adjunct to chemotherapy, but also was effective in shrinking breast cancer cells.
Improves Heart Function and Boosts Immune System:
Reishi is known to improve heart health which, in turn, increases blood flow and lowers oxygen consumption of the heart muscle. The circulatory system forms the basis of our immune system, and as the circulatory system is strengthened, so is the immune system. Reishi Mushroom is also beneficial for individuals with heart diseases. In addition, since the heart helps to calm the mind down, Reishi benefits those suffering from insomnia as well.
Strengthens the Lungs and Relieves Allergies:
One of Reishi’s active ingredients is triterpenes which has been shown to alleviate common allergies by inhibiting the release of histamine, optimizing oxygen utilization and improving the liver functions. This mushroom, therefore, is excellent for battling allergies. Reishi is also known to benefit the lungs which, in Chinese Medicine, plays an important role in regulating the immune system. People taking Reishi have reported improvements in bronchial diseases and a reduction in asthmatic attacks. A reduction in shortness of breath, as well as poor lung capacity was also seen. In addition, individuals suffering from respiratory disorders such as coughing and bronchitis can also benefit from taking Reishi.
Supports the Liver and Nervous Systems:
Research at Tokyo Medical Dental University has shown that Reishi improves sleep and soothes the nerves. As previously mentioned, Reishi helps to improve circulation promote blood flow to the brain. This helps calm the mind down, and can benefit those suffering from deficiency conditions such as Neurasthenia. Reishi also benefits the Liver organ system and, therefore, can be helpful to those suffering from hepatic disorders including Hepatitis B. Individuals with high blood pressure, hypertension and even thyroid disorders can also benefit from Reishi.
Other Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms:
As mentioned, Reishi is well-known for its powerful medicinal properties and ability to benefit individuals suffering from a vast range of sickness. In addition to the illnesses aforementioned, Reishi is ideal for those suffering from these conditions as well:
As you can see, Reishi is a powerful herb that tonifies and strengthens the entire body. Its ability to inhibit free radicals, while reducing damage from oxidative stress, makes it a wonderful option for anti-aging. As a food, Reishi, unfortunately, is not as tasty as its cousin mushrooms like the Shiitake mushroom. On the contrary, Reishi is bland and difficult to chew and digest. Reishi is commonly cooked in soups or in Chinese herbal formulas. Modern technology has made it possible for Reishi extracts to be produced in powder form and taken conveniently as a pill or capsule.
Regardless, Reishi should be included as part of everyone’s arsenal for natural health maintenance. Although its benefits have not been verified by authorities such as the FDA, its benefits have been recorded and shown in thousands of years of Chinese history. Make sure to consult with your physician to determine if Reishi mushroom is ideal for you and whether there are factors you should be concerned about. If you are facing difficult health challenges or looking for a “superpower” to include in your wellness ritual, don’t forget to consider this “Mushroom of Immortality.”
Rene Ng, DOM, AP, L.Ac, is a board-certified, licensed Acupuncture Physician and Chinese Herbalist in Sarasota. He is a multiple-time winner of Sarasota’s “Favorite Acupuncture Physician” and “Favorite Anti-Aging Practitioner” awards. For more information, call 941-773-5156, email [email protected] or visit ChineseMedicalSolutions.com.