Reishi: The Medicinal Mushroom That Promotes Longevity

By Jhena Waring

This Healing Fungus Boosts Immunity and is Believed to Help Combat Cancer

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as Lingzhi, is a type of fungus native to the humid soils of Asia. It has been used as a medicinal mushroom for over 2000 years in various medicinal systems, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Hailed as the “herb of spiritual potency,” it embodies well-being, vitality, and longevity.

Benefits of Reishi

Reishi is composed of several molecules that are said to be responsible for its health-promoting effects. The combination of polysaccharides, peptidoglycans and triterpenoids are believed to provide robust nutritional benefits.

Reishi is one of the most extensively studied herbs in the world. In general, it is a whole-body tonic that largely supports the liver through its detoxifying properties.

Numerous clinical studies have tested the various effects of reishi, with results indicating that reishi boosts immunity. As a result, the medicinal mushroom lessens the effects of fatigue and depression.

Researchers examined 132 individuals with neurasthenia, a condition associated with fatigue, aches, pains and depression. The study observed a reduction in fatigue, depression, and general aches and pains after eight weeks of taking reishi supplements.

It has also been shown to reduce inflammation as well as increase the activity of white blood cells that fight infections.

Photo: Cristian Newman

Moreover, several studies have indicated that reishi may kill cancer cells.

Reishi also provides adaptogenic properties; it helps the body adapt to, and manage stress, similar to Ashwagandha. It can also help feelings of restlessness and insomnia.

Other potential benefits of reishi, although not yet proven by replicable scientific studies, are an increase in heart health and blood sugar control.

In one study, scientists found that reishi appeared to promote healthy HDL cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides.

In another study done on animals, Reishi was discovered to lower blood sugar levels. Although this was not tested on humans, it suggested that the same pattern would occur for us.

Reishi’s Use Over Time

Reishi is one of many fungi that are deeply rooted in the pan-Asian traditional medicinal systems. Ayurveda and TCM place a large importance on the usage of medicinal mushrooms, ranging from Chaga to Lion’s Mane.

In TCM, reishi was especially used for overall vitality, and to combat mild depression, anxiety and restlessness. In Ayurveda, it was primarily used to help the digestive system and metabolism—a Pitta dosha-increasing herb.

As a medicinal mushroom with non-psychoactive effects, it provides benefits for all ages. Reishi is still commonly used for a variety of ailments in traditional medicinal systems, but is also now emerging in the West.

Photo: Edalin

Reishi on a Plant-Based Diet

Reishi may be very complementary to a plant-based diet.

The mushroom can be eaten fresh, but is most commonly taken in a powdered form.

Reishi powders are convenient and easily accessible in health stores across North America. Like other powdered superfoods, people often combine them with their daily meals or snacks.

Plant-based reishi lattes are a delicious way to consume the mushroom.

Most studies on the effects of reishi have been on participants who are ill. However, practitioners recommend the usage of reishi as an additional component for a healthy life.

Do consult a professional regarding the duration of reishi usage.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise readers to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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