The Health Benefits of This Magical Fungi
If you're thinking of mushrooms, you probably imagine roast portobello, cream soup, or other types of cooking with the savory, earthy ingredient. But there are many other types of mushrooms in the world that have amazing health benefits – and only hot water is needed to activate them.
Although they have become fashionable in recent years, functional fungi – also known as those that promote general health and wellbeing – have been used for medical purposes for centuries. One of the most popular functional mushrooms is undoubtedly the Reishi mushroom, an ancient adaptogen that plays a major role in the Chinese healing tradition. Adaptogens are essentially plants and herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress by regulating our biological response to stress. If you want to start your daily life with reishi mushrooms, read on.
What is Reishi?
Reishi, or Lingzhi in Chinese, is also known as the "mushroom of immortality". It has a red colored, kidney-shaped cap when it is fresh, and is eaten from the bases and stumps of deciduous trees like maple. These mushrooms are rare in the wild and are often artificially bred on hardwood logs, sawdust or wood shavings, according to the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms.
You also do not have to worry about trying to find new caps. Reishi mushrooms are most often dried and brewed to tea.
What are his health benefits?
Reishi is a powerful adaptogen that can support our immune system and our body in times of stress, says registered holistic nutritionist Kate Allan. "The mushrooms also have additional benefits, including potent antioxidant properties that protect our cells, the ability to increase energy and stamina, balance hormones and blood sugar levels, and aid in overall healing."
Another way in which adaptogens work is to function as immune modulators that help to balance the immune system, adds Allan. "If your immune system is under-reacting and you get sick, it helps strengthen it, but if your immune system overreacts, as in allergies, it helps to rebalance it."
Reishi mushrooms may be able to help stop the growth and spread of cancer cells because of their complex sugar, known as beta-glucans. This emerges from clinical studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Center, New York. They also list other potential benefits of Reishi from limited human clinical trials. For example, Reishi mushrooms contain sterols, which can act as precursors to hormones in the body, as well as substances called triterpenes which may have antihypertensive and antiallergic effects. They have also shown promise in slowing blood clotting. "
Other laboratory studies involving not all people have shown that Reishi helps treat fatigue, high cholesterol and blood pressure, treats HIV and AIDS, stimulates the immune system, reduces inflammation and increases strength and endurance.
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How to use Reishi
"You can take reishi alone or mixed with other adaptogens, other adaptogens have additional benefits that are different from those offered only by reishi alone, so it's great to use a combination," says Allan.
For optimal absorption, take Reishi in liquid, tea or powder form. As a result, it quickly gets into the digestive tract (instead of having to break down a capsule).
Reishi does not taste like the mushrooms you eat – it is still earthy, but has a bitter and raw taste. Although you can only stir some Reishi powder into hot water, it may be difficult to endure. Instead, try adding it to tea with other flavors or even to a hot chocolate before going to bed. "Because it helps you relax, it helps you to fall asleep naturally," cites Allan Purica's Zensations Evening Calm Cacao Mix with Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha or Botanica's Reishi Hot Chocolate as her favorites at bedtime to reset her sleep cycle.
If the taste bothers you, try capsules or pills. Just know that taking up your system takes longer. You could even try mixing it into tasty soups and broths. However, remember to read the labels of the products you are using and make sure that you choose the right dose and see how your body reacts before you take any other medicines.
Which reishi products should you try best?
Allan has a handful of product suggestions that you can try depending on your preference for taking Reishi: