As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we have a thing for adaptogens. They can help increase energy, manage stress, balance hormones, and are easy to incorporate into our diets. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, fall into the adaptogen category as they help the body find balance and adapt to stress. Reishi, which is native to parts of Asia like China, Korean and Japan, is technically edible, but can taste very bitter and has a strange texture, so you can usually find it supplement, powder or tincture form.
What is reishi?
There are six different types of reishi – red, purple, green, white, yellow, and black. The most studied type is red reishi, it is also said to be have the strongest healing properties. While it was originally found growing in certain parts of Asia, reishi now grows on hardwoods throughout the world, and is widely grown commercially. Typically reishi will have a red or brown cap, and is usually shaped like an oval or kidney. Like most adaptogens, it is very safe, with no known side effects.
What are the benefits?
Reishi is often referred to as the “mushroom of immortality”, perhaps because of its ability to neutralize free radicals, which can lead to chronic disease and premature aging. One of the reasons it’s able to do this is because of its high antioxidant levels, which help the body protect itself against diseases like cancer, autoimmune and heart disease, as well as allergies and infections. Reishi also works as an “immune modulator”, helping the body restore balance and regulate the activity of the immune system. Additionally, it has also been known to help lower blood pressure and support liver detoxification, but encouraging faster regeneration of healthy liver cells. And though much more human research and trials need to be done, certain components found in reishi have demonstrated the ability to reduce the metastasis of cancerous cells and prevent tumour growth (interesting fact: the Japanese government officially lists reishi as a cancer treatment).
How to use it?
Reishi is available in tincture, supplement and powder forms. Our favourite way of consuming it right now is through Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Elixir Mix which we get from Pure Feast. The powder can either be blended into a smoothie, or added to hot water. Four Sigmatic suggests taking it at night for its calming properties and ability to help with a better night’s sleep. It does this by regulating the hormonal system and reducing cortisol levels. Their reishi has also been “dual extracted”, which means that the water and fat-soluble components have been made bioavailable with boiling and alcohol (for the fat-soluble constituents). After removing the alcohol and concentrating the extract it is spray-dried back to powder, which is what we consume.