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What is a Reishi Mushroom?

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is a fungus found naturally in the wild, growing on hardwood trees – especially in China. The mushroom appears brown with a tinge of purple. Its cap is fan-shaped with a shiny quality to it. However, there are reishi mushrooms that have different colors. 

Nowadays, This fungus species is cultivated or farmed in different places around the world. That is because this mushroom has become popular due to its medicinal properties.

Reishi mushroom growing on a tree

Reishi Mushrooms

A Brief History of Reishi Mushroom Use

As mentioned earlier, reishi mushrooms are typically found in China, where it is called lingzhi, meaning “herb of spiritual potency.” It has been used to treat various ailments for over 4,000 years. 

Meanwhile, in neighboring Japan, the mushroom is known as mannentake. or “ten-thousand-year-old mushroom.” In these East Asian countries, reishi mushrooms were mainly ingested in tea. 

The fungus used to be rare and very expensive because it was difficult to find them. On top of that, it wasn’t easy to cultivate. Supposedly, in the 1980s a man named Shigeaki Mori came up with a way to make it easier to grow this particular mushroom species.

Since then, the cultivation method for reishi mushrooms has been standardized. Thus, they have become readily available and, therefore, less expensive.

Can I Grow Reishi Mushrooms Myself?

There are grow kits for reishi mushrooms that can help you cultivate these medicinal mushrooms at home. You can grow the mushrooms right in your kitchen, where it is humid and protected from direct sunlight. This is especially great if you do not have the necessary space for cultivating mushrooms in other ways.

Seven Benefits of Reishi Mushroom

Lingzhi mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time. Ancient Chinese physicians classified it as a powerful herb for vitality, strength, and overall health. Today, those are still considered benefits that one can derive from reishi, among others.

1. Relief for Tiredness in Cancer Patients

Though it doesn’t attack the cancer cells directly, reishi mushroom tea has been observed to ease the tiredness that cancer patients feel. It has been seen mainly in those with breast cancer. 

Another study shows that reishi mushrooms have beneficial effects for those with prostate cancer. That is due to the impact it has on testosterone. 

On top of that, there is research that shows that taking reishi mushroom tea can shrink the size of non-cancerous tumors in the large intestine and the rectum.

2. Immunity Boost

One reason the ancient Chinese believe in reishi mushrooms’ medicinal power is their immunity-boosting properties. Taking reishi mushroom tea can change the inflammation pathways in white blood cells. 

One study found that reishi mushrooms can boost the activity of natural killer cells, which fight back against infectious organisms in the body. However, the effect was primarily seen in people who were ill, and the results of studies were mixed in healthy individuals.

3. Reishi Mushroom Tea for Better Sleep

Insomnia is difficult to fight, and it can be frustrating. By taking reishi mushroom tea, people can have better-quality sleep. 

Research conducted on rats found that the fungus acts as a mild sedative that provides a calming effect. Scientists had the rodents take a reishi mushroom concoction. The result? Their REM increased significantly by 8.5 percent. And in the fourth week since they started taking it, the concoction was withdrawn. Instead of the REM going down, it rose to 11.9 percent.

4. Eases Diabetes

Diabetes is a for-life disease that reishi mushroom tea has some effect on. The fungus is reported to be effective in reducing the levels of the serum glucose. However, it becomes less effective when the patient has had diabetes for a long time.

5. Fighting Chronic Hepatitis B

Reishi mushroom’s polysaccharide fractions and triterpenes have been shown to protect the liver in animal studies. Research conducted in the early 2000s with human patients showed that it could reduce chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis B viral DNA positivity. After six months, the patients had cleared hepatitis B surface antigen from the serum.

6. Heart Protection

Lingzhi’s properties have been used to treat patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). It helped with primary symptoms such as chest pains, palpitations, and shortness of breath. Abnormal ECG values also went down from 74 percent to 55 percent. Reishi mushrooms also led to a decrease in blood pressure.

7. Anti-Depressant

Regular tea has a calming effect on people. But reishi mushroom tea goes beyond that—it can fight depression as well. It also helps reduce anxiety levels in people. And one study shows that it can help improve the overall quality of life by reducing fatigue.

How to Prepare Reishi Mushroom Tea

Preparing the tea is pretty quick and easy. You only need three ingredients:

  • Dried reishi mushrooms
  • Water
  • Sugar or honey
  • Ginger (optional)

Here are the steps:

  1. Prepare three to five grams of dried reishi mushrooms. This depends on how strong you want your tea to be. However, avoid consuming more than five grams of reishi mushroom tea per day.
  2. Boil the mushrooms with three to five cups of water for 30 minutes. You can boil it longer than 30 minutes for a more robust flavor.
  3. Strain the mixture, and add sugar, honey, or ginger for additional flavor. 

The best time to drink this tea is in the evening after dinner. Please note that the recommended reishi mushroom intake is three to five grams a day.

One Thing to Remember About Reishi Mushroom Tea

A pharmaceutical organization recommends taking 6 to 12 grams of reishi extract daily. But you have to note that lingzhi has otherwise been seen to have little effect on people who are not suffering from ailments. Therefore, one must be mindful about taking reishi mushroom tea or other reishi supplements. If you are using it to treat something, consult with a physician for recommended dosage. After all, there are studies wherein the effects of the reishi mushroom were compounded after use had ended.

Photo “Reishi mushroom” is copyright under Free Use No-Attribution License on Pixabay to the photographer “tassilo111” and is being posted unaltered (source)

For information about a different mushroom tea, check out: What is Chaga?