The Health Benefits of Raising Reishi Mushrooms
If something is working, you might as well continue to use it, as the saying goes. Reishi mushroom powder has been used by Asian cultures as a natural medicine for at least 2,000 years. The Reishi mushroom, also known as the Lingzhi mushroom in China, is one of the only species of mushrooms that is consumed more for its medicinal and pharmaceutical properties than for its nutritional value. Due to its rather bitter taste, the traditional cultures of the Far East found that it was better used for its medicinal properties than as a part of the regular diet.
Scientifically speaking, the Reishi mushroom belongs to the Ganoderma genum of mushrooms, with over 80 different individual species. The most often consumed is the Ganoderma Lucidum species. Unlike the traditional mushroom that you imagine growing from the forest floor, Reishi mushrooms actually grow like wooden conks on the sides of tree trunks, both living and dead.
The traditional wisdom of the Chinese, Japanese, and other East Asian cultures has recently been confirmed by modern science as literally hundreds of scientific studies have discovered some of the many benefits that the Reishi mushroom brings. Due to these health benefits, dozens of companies have begun to make and market Reishi mushroom powder which is simply the dried and ground up form of the Reishi mushroom.
Known also as the “king of the mushrooms” or the “God of Fungi”, the Reishi has long been revered as a natural way to achieve a longer, healthier life. While Reishi mushroom powder might not be an eternal fountain of youth, there are certainly a number of important health benefits that we will look at below.
10 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom Powder
As mentioned above, Reishi mushroom powder does have a rather bitter taste which is one of the main reasons that it isn´t generally consumed as a food source. The Asian cultures for thousands of years have consumed Reishi mushroom powder as a hot drink. Traditionally, the mushrooms were thinly sliced and placed in boiling water. The resulting dark and bitter liquid was then drunk to cure several bodily ills. If you grow reishi mushrooms at your home, you can also use the mycelium (white, underground strands or “roots”) for their medicinal purposes.
Anti-Cancer and Anti-Tumor Medicine
Perhaps some of the most exciting research being done regarding the medicinal properties of Reishi mushroom powder is related to potential anti-cancer effects of the Reishi mushroom. As an anti-inflammatory food, the Reishi mushroom is believed to help restrict the growth of cancerous tumors. Furthermore, this potent natural medicine also has large amounts of polysaccharides which are a type of water soluble sugar that are known to fight against cancers and also prevent tumor growth. If you are at risk for tumor-based cancer due to genetics or lifestyle conditions, consuming this mushroom regularly is a great way to avoid cancer. While some people might think that the supposed cancer-fighting ability of Reishi mushrooms is a hoax, recent studies have shown that this ingredient has been used to successfully treat diverse types of cancers including lung cancer, liver cancer, and breast cancer.
Who wouldn´t want to drink a morning tea that increased your overall longevity? The polysaccharides which are responsible for the anti-cancer medicinal properties in the Reishi mushroom are also effective for improving longevity. One study shows that these polysaccharides also activate the immune system and prevent abnormal blood vessel malformation. These two properties have the ability to increase your life span while also helping you to avoid cancer.
Thousands of people each year die from liver related diseases, and modern day medicine often has no remedy for serious liver conditions. Reishi mushrooms, however, has been shown to help regenerate livers suffering from certain serious conditions. A recent report found that Reishi mushroom powder can actually reverse chemical damage to the livers of lab mice. The high amount of triterpenes aid in the release of free radicals in the liver which allow for this regeneration to occur.
Helps with Alzheimer’s
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer´s, Huntington´s Disease and others cause huge amounts of damages to millions of elderly people and their families around the world. While no cure has yet been found with Alzheimer´s, recent studies are finding that Reishi mushrooms might have useful therapeutic effects. Healthy nerve growth factor is essential for neuro-cognitive functions, and it has been seen that Reishi mushrooms can promote this process in the brain.
Lowers Blood Pressure
The triterpenes that are important for liver regeneration, are also essential to help people lower and maintain their blood pressure at a healthy level. While scientists are still trying to find out why Reishi mushrooms can help to regulate blood pressure, some studies believe that the anti-inflammatory properties of this mushroom are responsible for this health effect. Not only do they limit inflammation in arteries and veins, but the triterpenes can also help to moderate overall hormonal balance.
Another effect of the anti-inflammatory properties of Reishi mushrooms is improved circulation of the blood. This can help people avoid potentially dangerous blood clots. Furthermore, reishi mushrooms can be essential in preventing high cholesterol levels that are also caused by clotting and bad blood circulation.
If you suffer from grogginess and a lack of mental clarity, the Reishi can be a great way to regain your ability to stay concentrated and focused. An accumulation of heavy metals and other toxins in the body can ultimately lead to a feeling of lethargy and mental laziness. Reishi mushrooms, however, offers a natural detox that can help your body avoid any long term damage from the accumulation of these toxins. At the same time, your increased energy levels during the day can contribute to better sleep patterns and rhythms at night.
Helps Prevent Diabetes
A recent scientific study looked at the ability of Reishi mushroom powder to both prevent and treat diabetes. By raising and eating Reiki mushrooms regularly, you can improve dyslipidemia, a common condition that often leads to diabetes. At the same time, if you suffer from type II diabetes, Reishi mushrooms can help to reduce the severity and other long term complications from this disease. By raising hemoglobin levels while not affecting your blood sugar levels, this natural medicine is ideal as a supplement for people suffering from diabetes.
Natural Remedy for Asthma
As mentioned above, Reishi mushrooms are a great way to boost your immune system. This is important for a number of reasons, but especially as a way to help people reduce their allergic reactions such as asthma. The medicinal properties in the Reishi mushroom act on the body´s immune system and prevent the release of histamines from mast cells in the body. This essentially limits the severity of allergic reactions like asthma. However, this can also be important for other allergic reactions such as skin irritations and even anaphylaxis.
Natural Remedy for Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory qualities of the Reishi mushroom have been mentioned several times already. However, these effects are also important to help people suffering from arthritis and who don´t want to rely on powerful chemical medicines that often come with several potentially dangerous side effects. Apart from helping to reduce the inflammation that causes pain with arthritis, you can also use Reishi mushrooms to relieve pain from headaches and other injuries.
The Top 3 Ways to Use Reishi Mushrooms in Your Everyday Diet
Learning to incorporate a new food into your kitchen is never easy, especially when that food has a strong bitter flavor as is the case with the Reishi mushroom. We´ll end by looking at the top 3 ways to use Reishi mushroom in your kitchen
Reishi Mushroom Tea
This is by far the most common way to prepare and consume the Reishi mushroom. Simply add one teaspoon of Reishi mushroom powder for each cup of water. Boil the water first, then add the powder and let simmer for several minutes. To mask the strong, bitter flavor of this tea, you can add ginger and lemon which will add a pleasant taste to the tea.
This meal can be prepared either with fresh Reishi mushroom or with Reishi mushroom powder. If you use fresh Reishi mushrooms, you will need to soak them in water overnight before using. If you are using Reishi mushroom powder, simply add 1 tablespoon of Reishi mushroom powder to the soup of choice. You don´t want the bitter flavor to overshadow the other flavors in the soup, so one tablespoon is usually the recommended maximum amount to add to any soup.
If you are really looking for a way to be creative with your Reishi mushrooms, you can add 1-2 teaspoons of Reishi mushroom powder or a cup of fresh Reishi mushrooms to a stir fry. Make sure to use lots of olive oil, onion, and garlic to help cover up the bitter aspect of the Reishi, and add it sparingly at the end of the sautéing process.