In Asian countries, this fungus has been used for thousands of years to promote health and longevity. But it’s only been recently that the reishi has stepped into the superfood spotlight in the US and other Western cultures.
So what makes reishi mushrooms so special? Are they worth the hype? And do reishi mushrooms have any health benefits?
Fun(gus) facts about reishi mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms (or Ganoderma lucidum) grow predominantly in Asia, specifically in humid climates. Compared to the chaga mushroom, which looks like burnt charcoal, the reishi mushroom’s kidney bean-shaped caps have red varnished exterior, making it the crown jewel of fungi.
While reishi mushrooms are pretty to look at, it's what’s on the inside that makes them so powerful.
Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans, a kind of plant sterol that's found in the cell walls of bacteria, yeast, plants, and fungi. Beta-glucans are known as “immunomodulators;” they improve the function of the immune system (more on that below!).
4 ways reishi mushrooms can benefit your health
1. Reishi mushrooms can help manage stress
Feeling slightly stressed? Reishi mushrooms can help!
Like ashwagandha, the reishi mushroom is considered an adaptogen. That means this powerful fungus can help your body handle stress, whether it be emotional, physical, or environmental.
Reishi mushrooms also contain triterpenes, which give reishi its bitter taste as well as its calming properties.
2. Reishi mushrooms can boost your mood and reduce fatigue
Reishi mushrooms do more than just manage stress — it can improve your overall mood as well as reduce fatigue!
In one small study, 132 patients with a condition that causes irritability, aches and pains were given a reishi supplement for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, patients reported feeling less fatigue and a better sense of well-being.
Another pilot study followed breast cancer survivors who took reishi powder for 4 weeks. In addition to feeling less fatigue, the subjects reported less anxiety and depression as well as a better quality of life.
3. Reishi mushrooms can boost your immune system
Like chaga, reishi mushrooms have been shown to positively impact the immune system.
Remember those triterpenes? These active compounds make the reishi mushroom a natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.
Research also shows that reishi mushrooms affect white blood cells' genes — the cells that protect the immune system from infection.
For example, in 2003 researchers treated 34 advanced-stage cancer patients with a polysaccharide found in reishi. After 12 weeks, the reishi treatment not only “enhanced the immune responses” of the patients, but also increased the activity of natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell).
4. Reishi mushrooms are anti-inflammatory
Although it may not be as powerful as turmeric, reishi mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is your body’s response to an injury or an infection. It tells your immune system to either treat or repair the damage or fight back against the bacteria or virus.
We already know that reishi can give the immune system a boost, so it makes sense that they would also impact inflammation. Here’s how: studies show that reishi mushrooms lower inflammation levels in white blood cells. And if you have lower inflammation levels, your body can fight off infections better.
How to enjoy reishi mushrooms
Now that know about the top reishi mushroom benefits, you may be wondering where you can find some for yourself.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to find them at your local grocery store. And even if you could, In their natural state, reishi mushrooms are too tough to eat. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, reishi mushrooms were cut and boiled in hot water to make tea or soup. Today, you’ll find reishi mushrooms in powdered form.
Organic reishi mushrooms are one of the six ingredients in the Magic Mushroom mix. Thanks to reishi immune-boosting and stress relieving benefits, this mix can help support and build a healthy immune system and manage stress. Reishi mushrooms are known for being bitter (you can thank the triterpenes for that), but Magic Mushroom doesn’t taste bitter at all! That’s because it also contains organic cacao, which gives it a delicious chocolate taste.
Think of this mix as hot chocolate with benefits!