Could Reishi Mushroom Powder Power Your Day?

Reishi mushroom powder

‘The Mushroom of immortality’– that’s what the people of China called reishi mushrooms over 2000 years ago. 

Its documented use as a medicine is dated back as far as 220AD in China. This was found in a book called ‘Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing’, and it was one of the first pharmacology books in China to describe the collection of medicines used to treat disease.

Many of these medicines are still used today because of how effective they continue to be even in our modern age. 

The benefits of reishi mushrooms have been praised over the ages for helping with detoxification, increasing energy, strengthening heart health, enhancing the mind, and slowing down the aging process.

A lot of these powerful benefits are now supported through a range of scientific studies. 

Keep reading to find out what those benefits are, whether there are any risks to taking the mushroom, and what you want to look out for when finding the best product.

In This Article:

  1. What is Reishi Mushroom Powder?
  2. What Are The Benefits Of Reishi Mushroom Powder?
  3. Is Reishi Mushroom Powder Safe?
  4. What To Look For When Picking A Product
  5. Conclusion

So, What Exactly Are Reishi Mushrooms?

Reishi mushrooms are circular fungi with a glossy red tint and a hard wooden texture. 

While its glossy exterior may look lacquered from a woodwork shop, it’s all-natural. 

In fact, its scientific name Ganoderma lucidum translates into ‘shiny skin’. 

Although it’s recently come to light that the labelling of Ganoderma lucidum as a single species may have been incorrect. 

New techniques for DNA testing have revealed that what was thought to be a single species of mushroom is in fact a family of similar mushrooms. 

This means the reishi mushrooms taken medicinally over thousands of years aren’t one mushroom species, but a variety of species all containing similar or the same properties. 

In China, these species of mushrooms are known as ‘Lingzhi’. This translates into something like ‘Spirit mushroom’, as it’s traditionally associated with symbolising spiritual potency, success, divine power, and longevity

The mushroom has been so highly regarded over the ages that artwork has depicted reishi mushrooms in paintings, carvings, furniture, and accessories. 

Throughout much of history, these mushrooms were incredibly rare to find, and hence it was typically reserved for royalty. 

Given its praised medical properties, it gained an image of mysticism around it where some people believed it was grown by gods or immortals.

Today reishi mushroom is grown in abundance as it’s cultivated commercially and sold to all people worldwide in extracts, tinctures, and powders.

reishi mushroom commercial growing

Many other mushrooms are also medicinal. These groups of mushrooms are commonly referred to today as ‘functional mushrooms’. The benefits of reishi mushroom powder have made it one of the most popular of these functional mushrooms alongside Turkey Tail, Lions mane, and Chaga.

turkey tail, reishi, and chaga side by side

Given its impressive historical status and touted benefits, reishi mushroom powder has undergone immense scientific research, which has supported a lot of the benefits of its traditional uses.

What Are The Mighty Benefits Of Reishi Mushroom Powder?

There’s a long list of reported benefits reishi can provide. 

One of the distinct qualities of functional mushrooms is their adaptogenic properties.  

This means they have a unique ability to provide resistance to stress in the body and ultimately balance vital functions so they’re not in a state of deficiency or excess. 

This process can include influencing hormones, regulating the nervous system, and aiding the immune system to address any disturbances. 

Some of the biochemical benefits of reishi mushroom powder include compounds such as 

  • Beta-glucans
  • Triterpenes
  • Sterols
  • Anti-inflammatory cytokines

These properties complement each other to have a holistic impact on the body that can aid against particular diseases, reduce irritating symptoms, and enhance the overall quality of life. 

Their top reported benefits include boosting the immune system, promoting better quality sleep, regulating stress or anxiety, protecting the liver, and improving cardiovascular health. 

Boosts Your Immune System

The benefit of reishi mushroom powder as an immune booster is one of its most prominent claims to fame. It’s been worshipped for its immune-boosting properties for thousands of years in traditional cultures.

But what does the science say?

A vast body of evidence has demonstrated these immune-boosting abilities to be due to beta-glucans mostly.

These beta-glucans train your immune system to become stronger and swifter at responding to foreign invaders in the body. Think of them like the personal trainers at a gym who get your immune cells muscled up and masters of martial arts to take out the baddies in your body. 

martial arts demonstration

These immune cells that beta-glucan help include Natural killer cells, B cells, and macrophages, all involved in healthy immune responses against pathogens. 

Multiple clinical trials have demonstrated these immune-boosting properties.

In one study involving patients with various forms of cancer at advanced stages, 134 people were supplemented with reishi mushroom powder at 1800mg a day for 12 weeks. For 80% of these patients, their immune responses amplified significantly to where various immune cells increased.

In another clinical study, 68 patients with advanced lung cancer given an estimate of 12 weeks to live, were given 600mg of reishi mushroom powder three times a day. 

All the participants given the treatment saw significant increases in all metrics of immunity and an increase in quality of life for about 65% of the patients!

Promotes Better Quality Sleep

Another popular benefit reported by people taking reishi mushroom powder is its improvements in sleep quality.

good quality sleep

Sleep is something not everyone gets enough of in our modern-day world. Being exposed to high levels of stress can be a significant factor in why so many suffer poor quality sleep and have trouble unwinding their brains after a long day.

Disruptions to our circadian rhythm also play a role. This is our body’s biological clock that determines when to wake up. This can be disrupted by consistently changing the times we sleep or wake up at, and being exposed to high levels of stress.

It’s possible that the reason reishi helps so many get deeper sleep is because of its adaptogenic qualities that regulate stress.

In particular, this could be due to triterpenes, which are found to promote potent anti-inflammatory responses and sedative effects on the body. This could be how it helps regulate stress or cortisol in the body.

Most of the claims that reishi mushrooms powders benefit sleep come from personal anecdotes people tell after taking the mushroom. 

There isn’t many clinical studies done on the topic, although research on mice has demonstrated the mushroom to increase the length of sleep time and reduce the frequency of waking up throughout the night.

Reduced Stress or Anxiety

The positive benefits reishi mushroom powder provides for sleep are the same as what makes it powerful for reducing anxiety and stress. 

The anti-inflammatory effects appear to reduce the levels of cortisol and stress experienced by people, helping to promote a calmer state of mind

reducing anxiety and stress

This is particularly important in our modern day world, where many are overburdened with stress and need healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it that don’t involve drugs, alcohol or even numbing our minds with food and TV.

Clinical studies demonstrate the benefit of reishi mushroom powder in people with chronic diseases that experience stress from an impaired life. 

In one randomised clinical study, a group of 48 women with breast cancer experiencing heavy fatigue were given 1000mg of reishi three times a day for four weeks. At the end of the study, the patients given the treatment reported less anxiety, depression, and overall better quality of life. 

Another clinical study was done on patients diagnosed with neurasthenia, which is a weakness of the nerves. 

In the study, 138 patients were given 1800mg of reishi three times a day for eight weeks. The results showed that the treatment was significantly superior to the placebo and enhanced individual wellbeing while also reducing issues with fatigue

This potent effect on stress and regulating the nervous system could be why it’s been traditionally regarded for promoting longevity and anti-aging properties, since other research shows how stress can contribute to accelerated aging or disease. 

So whether you’re looking to reduce stress from a difficult job, go into deeper states of meditation, or slow down the formation of wrinkles on your face, reishi may be what you need to help with that.

Protects The Liver

The Liver promotes over 500 optimal functions in the body, making it an absolutely essential organ for maintaining balance.

With exposure to more toxins than ever before in our modern-day world, it’s essential that our liver operates to the best of its ability. 

Reishi has powerful protective effects on the liver primarily due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

protecting the liver

To break it down for you, antioxidants remove a toxic chemical in the body called free radicals. These are the harmful byproducts produced by the body during natural processes of metabolism, digestion, and other bodily functions. 

If too much build-up of free radicals accumulates, this can result in cells becoming damaged and ultimately lead to much more severe health conditions, diseases, and accelerated aging. 

The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms study showed that reishi had benefits that could protect the liver from acute liver injury, including hepatitis (which is inflammation of the liver tissue).

These benefits of reishi mushroom powder are further backed up in this double-blind randomised clinical trial. They took 42 healthy individuals and split them in two, with one group receiving 225mg of reishi every day for six months. 

The results showed a significant increase in antioxidant biomarkers that had an antiaging effect and reversed a mild fatty liver condition in some patients.

May Enhance Cardiovascular Health

With heart disease as the number one killer globally, enhancing our cardiovascular health has never been more critical. 

While some of the research is mixed in clinical studies, it’s well established that reishi contains many biochemical functions that help with cardiovascular issues.

Its polysaccharides and triterpenes have been found to have a number of positive cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing harmful cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and removing clots from the body. 

strong cardiovascular health

Reishi is also incredibly high in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, both of which have protective effects on cardiovascular issues, especially for heart cells that can be damaged by oxidative stress. 

This is demonstrated in a randomised clinical trial with coronary heart disease patients. There were 88 patients in the trial, and they were given reishi for 12 weeks. The results showed a significant improvement than that of the placebo group.

These powerful antioxidant effects have also been confirmed in rat studies, where it’s shown to be beneficial for blood pressure and the heart. Other rat studies have also shown that it improves the heart’s mitochondria cells (which produce energy for a cell to live).

Other research has also reported improvements in biometric markers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and oxidative damage.

Is Reishi Mushroom Powder Safe?

Reishi mushroom is generally considered safe, and there’s only been rare instances where people have experienced liver damage, digestive issues, or an upset stomach.

For most people, reishi is well tolerated with little to no adverse side effects. 

Since it can be a powerful medicinal mushroom though, it’s best to at least consult with your doctor if your pregnant, have low blood pressure, blood disorders, or are about to undergo surgery. 

Another factor to consider is that reishi mushrooms can accumulate heavy metals in areas with high pollution levels from the air and soil. For example, some mushrooms in Asia have high levels of cadmium and other metals that weaken the immune system. 

For these reasons listed above, it’s essential to choose high-quality products that ensure purity. 

What To Look For When Picking A Product

Since reishi is a tough fibrous mushroom, it can’t be eaten, and so it’s typically put through different processing forms to extract its medicinal properties.

This can include water or alcohol extraction, and sometimes both. For water extraction, the reishi is simmered for a few hours, and the final product produces a concentration in beta-glucans, but not so much in the other biochemical compounds.

For alcohol extraction it’s soaked for a multitude of days, which often leads to a concentration of triterpenes, but not so much in beta-glucans. 

At Forest Superfood, we like to take a holistic approach to reishi. We avoid extracts entirely and grind down the mushroom into a powder. 

Isolating a whole food can remove components causing an interference with the digestion of the mushroom and less medicinal properties absorbed. 

Keeping the mushroom a whole food remains as close to nature as possible. We heat our mushrooms before grinding them into powder to remove any harmful bacteria, and this process also helps break down cell walls for more bioavailable medicinal benefits. 

Simply add the reishi mushroom powder into hot water to make a tea, or you can include it in your shake.

Another factor to consider is the heavy metals that can be accumulated in the mushroom. It’s important to grow them in areas free from pollution and use clean water.

You also want to make sure your product has certified organic on it. Simply having the word organic on the product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s grown under the tight regulations required for organic growing. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says that ‘Organic products intended for the Australian market are not required to be certified in order to be labelled ‘organic’.’

At Forest Superfoods, our reishi mushroom powder is certified organic and grown in the pristinely clean outback of Victoria, Australia. 

We also freeze-dry our mushrooms to ensure the most nutrient-dense product possible, so you get the maximum benefit from this medicinal mushroom. This method has been found to be almost nutritionally equivalent to consuming the mushrooms fresh from the forest. 

Other companies spray dry their product as it’s cheaper, but since we prioritise giving our customers a high-quality product, we don’t mind spending the additional expense. 

The final benefit is that our mushrooms come with the mycelium included. Most other companies will strictly use the fruiting body, but this leaves out the unique benefits found exclusively in the mycelium. 

Mycelium has unique medicinal properties such as strong anti-viral agents, can aid digestion, and promote beneficial bacteria. 

The world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets recommends growing mushrooms with mycelium and says, “In my scientific opinion, mushroom products not incorporating mycelium are at a decided disadvantage, given the results of recent research”. 

Conclusion

It’s no wonder why ancient cultures called reishi ‘the mushroom of immortality’.

Its uniquely powerful effects against stress, cortisol, and inflammation in the body appear to be the main reason it’s praised to promote longevity and success. 

Stress is such a central component in everyone’s life that has all sorts of physiological and psychological side effects.

Whether you’re looking to calm your mind from this daily stress or looking to boost your immune system, sleep, liver, or heart health- the positive effects of reishi highlight why everyone can benefit from incorporating this ancient mushroom into their daily routines.

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