Ganoderma lucidum aka reishi mushrooms or Lingzhi are perhaps one of the most revered medicinal mushrooms of the East, yet they have only recently caught our eyes in the West for its health benefits and pharmaceutical potential(1). Reishi mushroom benefits can extend to many areas of life.
It has over a 2000 year long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) health and longevity tonics, which has it deemed the ‘mushroom of longevity’ or ‘immortality’(2). But it was so rare in ancient China that ‘any person who picked the mushroom from the natural environment and presented it to a high-ranking official was usually well rewarded. Even in the early 1950s, it was presented to Chinese leaders in Mainland China and Taiwan, following the occasional discovery in the wild’(3). It was so revered that it was reserved for royalty, earning its name the ‘monarch of mushrooms.’ And rightfully so.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing a reishi mushroom up close and personal, you might note the luxurious reddish-brown colour and texture reminiscent of a finely varnished cherry wood; which can ironically cause a cherry tree to rot.(4) Ironically, it is thought to have the opposite effect on our well-being. For this reason, the reishi mushroom became more accessible after successful cultivation in the 1970s.(3)
Thanks to cultivation, reishi has become available in:
- Tinctures & liquid formulas
- Food supplement tablets
- And more
While there is a myriad of potential benefits, let’s explore the top 5 reasons you might want to include the reishi mushroom in your wellness routine.
5 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
1. Reishi mushrooms may help you maintain a supercharged immune system.
Your immune system is a powerful engine. And you don’t want it to break down. Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle can take a toll on your immune system.
The 3 big immunity threats include:
- Irregular sleep habits
- Poor nutrition
This is not to mention those pesky germs and viruses that hover around tight spaces, particularly in the winter months — and this particularly rough year.
Fortunately, studies have shown that the reishi mushroom can offer ample immunomodulating properties, meaning that it can help your immune system remain in harmony.(5) In fact, the evidence has been so well documented for this mushroom that it is under consideration for classification for immune defence under the guidance of the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA); which has been historically unheard of for mushrooms in the West.
Scientific studies have identified that reishi mushrooms may
- activate immune cells like T-cells, one of the most important white blood cells, and macrophages, which are responsible for identifying and destroying harmful bacteria and toxins.
- enhance the production of cytokines, which affects immune response and associated inflammation so the body is better equipped to fight foreign invaders in the body.
- decrease tissue and cellular damage following infection, leading to a stronger recovery.
- play a role in antimicrobial activity as part of the immunomodulating properties of the mushroom.3
- promote immune organ growth aka the lymphoid organs, which are responsible for filtering and trapping pathogens.3 (6)
- And more
So if you are feeling a bit under the, try supplement that contains reishi mushroom to support your immune system. Cannabotech’s Immunity drops contain zinc, which contributes to the healthy function of the immune system, in addition to traditional mushrooms (often referred to as functional mushrooms or medicinal mushrooms) as well as premium CBD.
2. Reishi mushrooms may help you kick that afternoon slump
Feeling sluggish in the middle of the day? The hustle and bustle of the modern lifestyle can really take a toll on the body, as you are certainly aware. But reishi mushrooms may just be the remedy you need to get you through the day. Reishi mushrooms may not exactly be caffeinated beverages that can give you that cracked out spike, but they can contribute to more sustained energy like tea.
Preliminary research suggests that medicinal mushrooms like reishi possess anti-fatigue effects. The bioactive components including polysaccharides, peptides, nucleosides, phenolic compounds, and triterpenoids may all help contribute to extended energy levels.(7) The existing research suggests the reishi mushroom can boost energy due to everything from blood glucose regulation to antioxidant and immunity activity to cardiovascular function.
While the jury is still out on exactly how they work, one thing is clear: users of formulas containing reishi mushrooms have reported that they feel like they can run up mountains shortly after ingesting it. This just may be why TCM practitioners have been using them for over 2000 years in their vitality formulas.
3. Reishi mushrooms may support side effects of other treatments
As you may be aware, medicine can be lifesaving, but sometimes not without some discomfort. Fortunately, we can turn to nature to mitigate some of these side effects. And this may include the reishi mushroom. In a recently published paper in the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, the researchers note that two decades of preclinical and clinical research ‘can confirm that supplementation with medical fungi can increase treatment success or mitigate the negative side effects of different therapies. ‘(8) They highlight reishi’s immunity and anti-tumour activity celebrated by the East aeons, with a special focus on their polysaccharides and ganoderic acids. However, they note that these are not approved for stand-alone treatments yet. As of now, they are recommended to use as adjunctive treatments.
But remember to speak to your doctor before attempting integrative therapies, including implementing reishi into your diet or preventive care routine.
Reishi mushrooms may help balance mood, stress, and associated aches
Do you experience bouts of irritability, low energy, fatigue bordering on exhaustion, headaches, and inexplicable aches in your muscles and joints? You’re not alone. The term neurasthenia was once used to describe this condition associated with the hustle and bustle of modern living, particularly among urban dwellers (particularly professionals).(9) While the term to describe this ‘nervous energy’(9) has largely fallen out of favour around the world, a study conducted with 123 Chinese patients with symptoms of neurasthenia concluded that subjects who took reishi mushroom extract for 8 weeks reported significantly more improvement than the group taking the placebo.(10)
This may be in part due to their adaptogenic properties, which can promote our adrenal gland secretion — essentially decreasing excessive hormone production.(11) In layperson terms, reishi’s adaptogenic properties may help us adapt to stress. And this can even include our response to inflammation. So it seems that reishi could help keep your whole being back in balance.
5. Reishi mushroom benefits may include neuroprotective properties
Experiencing lapses in memory or mental clarity? Well, reishi mushrooms may be able to offset some of those symptoms. A study published in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology found that reishi mushrooms could alleviate oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, protect neurons from cell death, and improve cognitive dysfunction in the rat hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with learning and memory).(12) This is largely connected to reishi’s ability to support the production of the nerve growth factor (NGF), an insulin-like protein essential for healthy brain function.(13)
Reishi: The Elixir for Life
With all these potential benefits, it’s no wonder that the reishi mushroom is considered the elixir for life. This wonder mushroom can support everything from our immune system to our stress levels to our mental clarity. So when you’re not quite feeling yourself, give supplements containing reishi mushroom extract a try.
- Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/
- Wang J, Cao B, Zhao H, Feng J. Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging. Aging and Disease. 2017;8(6):691-707. Published 2017 Dec 1. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0410 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758346/
- Wasser SP, Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al. Reishi or Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum). In: Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, Marcel Dekker, New York, 2005; pp. 680-690.
- Miller, R. Cherry Tree & Fungus. SF Gate. Accessed April 2, 2021. Available from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/cherry-tree-mushrooms-fungus-33034.html
- Zhou XW, Su KQ, Zhang YM. Applied modern biotechnology for cultivation of Ganoderma and development of their products. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2012 Feb;93(3):941-63. doi: 10.1007/s00253-011-3780-7. Epub 2011 Dec 15. PMID: 22170106; PMCID: PMC7080118. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22170106/
- Wang X, Lin Z. Immunomodulating Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) and Possible Mechanism. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1182:1-37. doi: 10.1007/978-981-32-9421-9_1. PMID: 31777013. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31777013/
- Geng P, Siu KC, Wang Z, Wu JY. Antifatigue Functions and Mechanisms of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:9648496. doi:10.1155/2017/9648496 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5584359/
- Frljak J, Mulabećirović A , Isaković S, et al. Biological Active Components of Selected Medical Fungi. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2021; 11, 9-22. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2021.111002.
- Schuster DG. Neurasthenia and a Modernizing America. JAMA. 2003;290(17):2327–2328. doi:10.1001/jama.290.17.2327. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/197572
- Tang W, Gao Y, Chen G, Gao H, Dai X, Ye J, Chan E, Huang M, Zhou S. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2005 Spring;8(1):53-8. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2005.8.53. PMID: 15857210.
- Liao LY, He YF, Li L, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese Medicine. 2018;13:57. Published 2018 Nov 16. doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240259/
- Zhou Y, Qu ZQ, Zeng YS, Lin YK, Li Y, Chung P, Wong R, Hägg U. Neuroprotective effect of preadministration with Ganoderma lucidum spore on rat hippocampus. Experimental Toxicologic Pathology. 2012 Nov;64(7-8):673-80. doi: 10.1016/j.etp.2010.12.011. Epub 2011 Jan 15. PMID: 21242065.
- Zhang XQ, Ip FC, Zhang DM, Chen LX, Zhang W, Li YL, Ip NY, Ye WC. Triterpenoids with neurotrophic activity from Ganoderma lucidum. Natural Product Research. 2011 Oct;25(17):1607-13. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2010.496367. Epub 2011 Jun 13. PMID: 21671206.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. This article and our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease; or replace a healthy lifestyle and diet. Speak to your family physician or treating physician if you have any serious concerns about your health before starting a new health and wellness routine.
DO NOT EAT any mushrooms that you are not 100% sure that it is safe for consumption.